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The second deadly social media sales mistake:

(Editor's note: This is the second of five parts. Read Part 1.)

Congratulations. You've joined the social media revolution. No more sitting on the sidelines. You're tweeting, you're discussing, you're posting. As a salesperson or business owner, social media is a great way to create more "touch points" with potential customers. And according to statistics compiled by Inside Sales suggesting that it takes 8-12 attempts to contact the majority of your prospects, you will need all of the touch points you can get!

Social media sites are constantly evolving. They have made it easy for even the most technologically challenged to automate much of their communications. Now with a single click you can send an automated message inviting people to join your network or post a single update over numerous platforms. Genius, right?

Maybe not. This irresistible Easy Button has caused many people to lose site of the goal: Communicating one on one. Social Media may feel like a mass medium, but at its heart, it's just two people having a conversation. Automated messages and duplicated posts depersonalize a medium that is successful precisely because it is personal. These practices can make even the most well meaning social media user appear to be impersonal at best, and a cyber stalker at worst. Here's how:

Lets say you're active in the popular social media trifecta of Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. And lets say you write one message and through the magic of technology, have it instantly posted on each site. Efficient, yes? Hold on. Lets look at it from your prospect's perspective. Your prospect is probably active on the same sites. First he reads your post on LinkedIn. Then he might read it on Facebook. By the time he gets a tweet with the very same message you are starting to wear out your welcome. Repeat this process a few more times and you risk being tuned out, de-friended or worse. (Is there anything worse than being de-friended?!)

There are at least three ways to avoid making this mistake. It may require a little more work on your part, but it will pay off in the long run.

1. Personalize your message wherever possible. How many generic "I'd like to add you to my professional network," invites do you receive? Does it make you feel warm and special? I doubt it. Especially if you don't recognize the name of the person who sent it or have any idea how they know you. And you're supposed to let them into your inner circle? If you do take the time to click on their profile and their name or face still doesn't ring any bells, what are the odds that you will accept their invitation? Don't take chances. Even if you think that the person you're sending an invite to knows you, write a one or two sentence note instead of using the formula response. At the very least, it will show respect.

2. Acknowledge when someone makes an effort to connect with you. This practice is especially lacking on Twitter. Unless you're Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, if someone deems you worthy of following, take the time to type at least the following five words: "Thanks for following me, Chuck." Yes, that's three seconds out of your life you'll never get back, but it will set you apart from the scores of people who are apparently so used to being followed that they can't be bothered to respond.

3. Have a specific strategy and a unique message for each platform. Think about adjusting your content to take advantage of each site's strengths. For example, LinkedIn is great for engaging in discussions, posing questions and making recommendations. Facebook is a great place to post video and photos. Twitter is good for quick sound bites and updates throughout your day or re-tweeting other's comments.

We may hope to reach thousands of people with our social media efforts, but the fact is that all of our tweets, updates and posts are going to be read by one person at a time. Always keep in mind that you are talking to a person, not a mass, faceless audience. Social media should be part of an integrated plan that combines traditional sales methods (you remember the phone, right?) and gives you the opportunity to connect with a customer or prospect in multiple arenas - without being redundant. Without being redundant.

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Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen, author of Sales Presentations for Dummies, helps sales and business executives craft and deliver winning presentations and demos by applying today’s best practices from business, acting, improv, and storytelling. Julie’s techniques for leveraging proven performance skills in presentations have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM and Oracle, as well as local Colorado companies. Learn more about sales workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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