20 Annoying Mistakes Business Owners Need To Avoid Online [Part One]
After talking to several business owners, I discovered that most of them share the same thought process about interacting with other businesses online. I decided to ask my social media audience what they wish other business owners would stop doing online. I was overwhelmed with the responses! I knew there were some annoyances, but there were quite a few people who had something to get off their spirit.
With all of their suggestions, I decided to curate their responses into a two-part blog post series to bring awareness to business owners who make these mistakes unknowingly and to those who purposely commit them.
Most points will discuss the owners who make the mistake and the owner on the receiving end so all perspectives can be understood. Don’t feel bad, I am on the list for a mistake or two myself!
Let’s jump into it:
Asking for handouts
Unfortunately, this was a repetitive response. I almost hate covering it because I expect people to respect everyone’s hustle. I’ll be blunt here:
Stop asking for free shit.
If a business has something you need, make the sacrifice to invest in it so you can earn your return back. Stop looking at the price. Instead, focus on the return of your investment. If that doesn’t work, just wait until you can afford the products or services.
On the same token, if you’re a business owner, you have bills to pay, goals to meet, and places to go. If you want to stay in business, you can’t give out your valuable gifts. How will you eat or take care of your family? If you’re giving things out that are intended to be paid items, you do not have a business; you have an expensive hobby.
If you resonate with this mistake, you understand why it’s disrespectful to ask other business owners for free anything. And, you understand why it’s hurtful to your business and industry when you’re giving out your valuable products and services for free.
Selling to only make money; not to make a difference
We all know a business’s bottom line is to make money. When it gets to a point of not caring about your customers, it’s a huge problem. There are so many businesses that have grown into sales only business models. What this means is they do more selling than educating, informing and building relationships their audience. They don’t prime their audience much before selling to them. It’s always a “buy, buy, buy” approach.
I understand growth and evolution in business. I also understand audience and prospective client growth. These two factors alone will change a business model and approach. However, there are some people who never have genuine intentions to help others. They simply take advantage of their ignorance or lack of knowledge and con people out their coins.
We have to move better online. Not all business owners are out to take advantage of people, but there are many who do. While the goal is to make money, the bigger picture is to positively impact as many lives as possible. Always aim to make a difference as you earn. Protect your brand image!
Let us all bow our heads, touch, and agree that spammy comments are evil. Automated engagement is one of the biggest complaints in the digital space. It’s easy to detect a 'bot in comments. They are either irrelevant or very basic. Here are a couple of examples of spammy comments:
Comments that have nothing to do with what is posted.
What's the point of investing in an auto-engage program? This makes a brand look horrible online. What's said has nothing to do with the post the comment is on. I can't speak for other people, but these people get blocked immediately on my account. If you're guilty of this, please stop.
Advertising your business/Click the link in my bio in comments.
There is a time and a place for this and it’s definitely not in other people’s comments unless you’re solicited to market your business. It’s like getting on stage at a concert to interrupt the performer to advertise your company. It’s disrespectful.
These two words alone: Let’s connect.
Connect what? The dots? Connect 4? What are we connecting exactly? The reason why this is a spammy comment is because serious business owners who say “let’s connect” send a professionally composed email. They inquire in a direct message. Or, they state how they want to connect and when. They don't just say it and leave. Let’s be real. “Let’s connect” with no follow-up or any additional information usually means “let me get your contact information so I can make money off of you”.
If you really want to connect with someone, send an email or keep in touch on your own accord. Instead of using spammy comments, just genuinely engage. It really is that simple.
Follow for Follow & Follow to Unfollow
I can’t tell you how many times I've wanted to personally message someone to tell them “I will never follow you”. It may sound mean, but it’s the truth after seeing over 15 follow/unfollow notifications. There are several witnesses who can attest that this is one of the most gnat flying annoyances ever.
To speak for those who commented with this response and for myself, this growth “tactic” holds no weight and should be banned. If you’re participating in this growth strategy, you’ll find that a lot of your audience is less targeted. It will be harder to maintain consistent sales or high engagement rates. Again, genuine engagement still works!
Throwing shade to get paid
In the words of Lauryn Hill, “how you gone win when you ain’t right within?” Throwing shade to get paid isn’t new. It’s an old scare tactic that some business owners use to gain a sale or steal business. The reason for this tactic does not matter. This is a character flaw and an ethical issue. It’s important to always keep a healthy brand image. Even if someone has burned you or mistreated you, always take the high road in business. People talk. Being bitter and telling everyone about it will raise a red flag and discourage others from doing business with you. Talking down on someone can and will backfire. Tread lightly!
CLAIMING EXPERTISE IN AN AREA THEY ARE A NOVICE IN
This response describes the blind leading the blind analogy. You don’t need to have a degree, be an expert, or guru in life about everything. But, you need to be well versed in the niche or area of business you charge for. Avoid information regurgitation. Just because you learn one thing in business doesn’t mean you should regurgitate it, label yourself as an expert, and charge for it right away.
You have to continuously educate yourself in your field and niche to stay competitive and informed. Learn your chosen area of business thoroughly. Make mistakes fast and create solutions for other business owners following behind you. Build your muscle before creating the possibility for people to label you as a fraud. We can tell when you’re not being genuine.
NOT GIVING PROPER CREDIT
This mistake is an ethical issue. It says a lot about your character if you’re taking and using ideas, products, services, intellectual property, etc. as your own. As a community, your business can easily be seen as distrustful, lazy, deceitful and any other word that you wouldn’t want associated with your brand.
If you’re not getting credit for the things you create, there are a couple of things you can do to improve your situation. Depending on what it is, the first thing you can do is watermark, or put your business information on every piece of content that you create. The second thing you can do is accept that you can’t avoid your creations being copied or stolen. Always remind yourself that the people who steal your creations will never be you or keep up with you.
This response is for business owners who use Canva. You all know I live for Canva, but this is point is true. Canva is bae, but bae can’t be cheating on all of us with the same templates. The point of being an influential brand is to differentiate yourself from other brands online. While Canva is an amazing design tool, its templates are easily recognizable. Canva needs to be used to create distinction for your brand. You don’t have to be design savvy. Just change and reposition elements on your designs to look different from others. Avoid laziness. Your business needs brand recognition to create the know-like-trust factor.
I’ve received a couple of comments about spammy DMs. I’ll admit that I’ve receive only one “okay” auto DM on Twitter, but I still frown upon their existence as does other business owners. Why? Direct messages are more intimate than comments so they should be used with care. Although some business owners would debate this, it’s still an annoyance to majority who are on the receiving end. People want to talk to real people; not a computer. Take the time to write an email or send a genuine message to build relationships. Use the person’s name. Say something specific about their latest post or website so they’ll know it’s a genuine message.
Private Business Pages
I never really understood why some businesses have private pages unless they are in the adult entertainment business. Customers want easy access to you, your products, and your services. When your products or services are hard to access, you lose sales.
If you’re doing this, here’s the truth: You will never be able to stop people from stealing your pictures. You can watermark them for your mental peace, but this is one thing that you can’t monitor all the time nor control. Unlock your business page and invite people to learn more about your business. You’re missing way too many opportunities because of your private page. Trust me!
While some of these strategies work for others, many people who are on the receiving end dislike the experience. Every mistake listed can be uninviting and possibly hurt your online business. I’m very grateful for my online community because I care about the things that are affecting my brand’s image. I would never want to be labeled as an annoyance or cause my business to miss out on opportunities. I am sure there are others who feel and think the same way. That’s why I needed to share what the online community thinks about these tactics.
These responses are from my Instagram and Facebook communities. There are 10 more responses that I’ve curated in part two of this series which are live here. Subscribe to my blog below to get more blog notifications or follow on social for weekly reminders!