“I’ve made a huge mistake.” – Are your marketing moves a case of Arrested Development?

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I have to wonder if a certain catering company realizes what they’ve done. Or just how much damage may be done to their marketing.

They’ve made a huge mistake – or rather, the person they’ve hired as their consultant has made the mistake on their behalf. And she isn’t the only example I’ve come across in the last three weeks. I’m seeing moves that could be right out of the Bluth Family.

If you’ve never seen the original first three seasons of the hilarious cult favorite, Arrested Development, then maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. Let’s just say that “I’ve made a huge mistake” is a line uttered by every one of the characters at some point in the comedy about a supremely dysfunctional fictional family going down the drain in business and their personal lives.

Warning: Be very careful who you give the keys to your social media and marketing.

It started with a tweet I got.

“Follow [XXX]” is all it said. Just like that. I ignored it the first time. I have my own decision-making process in choosing who to follow on Twitter, and this wasn’t part of it. Then I got the same tweet again.

“Is this an order or an invitation? Gotta give me a good reason.” I tweeted back.

The answer back was cryptic: “Invitation.” And then: “Spectacular food.”

Who the heck is this? I wondered. So I checked out the profile. The company was local. Ok, fine. I’m supportive of local business peeps, so I followed back.

Then another couple of short tweets from the company: “Check yr fb.” and “Follow us on Instagram.” Yr fb? C’mon. You have 140 characters for a tweet — you just used 17. I think you have room to write out the word “your” with the 123 characters you have left.

Yeah right, I thought. Whoever this company was, they seemed to have no knowledge of Twitter etiquette. You just don’t “order” people to follow you anywhere without giving them a reason why they’d want to.

Later, checking up on my Facebook (and not because Company X said to), I had a message. It turned out to be from someone I’ve known a long time in sales. She said she’d been hired by the catering company as their marketing consultant — and promptly asked that I write up an article “in the next issue” about them in the magazine I write for and edit.

A.) This company is not in the area we cover. B.) “The next issue” was already at final edit stage.

Huge Mistake: No idea how a magazine works. It’s a regional lifestyle magazine, not a business magazine. Magazines have an editorial calendar, planned months ahead. So it’s a catering company — And the story hook is…? Answer: There is none.

Tip: Hire someone who has knowledge of media relations and PR. Just because a person has a background in sales doesn’t necessarily qualify them to do all phases of marketing. If you’re going after publicity, you must know how to work with the media.

Warning: Make sure the person doing your social media doesn’t treat tweets and posts like texts. This is a business. It could be your business. It needs to have a professional image. That includes punctuation, full words (for short tweets) and correct spelling.

I remain one of this company’s 7 followers on Twitter. But not for long. I plan to Unfollow. The couple behind the business hired this person — well, I’m not sure why. They may know each other from a professional organization we all belong to — or they may be her friends. But they’ve made a huge mistake.

Meanwhile, on LinkedIn… girlfriend mistakes.

So this one is causing me personal pain. It’s my own cousin that’s making this huge mistake.

My cousin is a civil attorney in another part of the country. He’s brilliant and been in practice for 27 years.  He’s also single and has a girlfriend. I’ve met her. She’s a nice enough person and seems intelligent.

But she shouldn’t be the one to create his LinkedIn profile.

Now, if she was a whiz in business or in recruiting, she might be wonderful at setting up a LinkedIn profile that rocked. Except she isn’t.

Because I have inside knowledge of their relationship, being close to my cousin, I know that this is more about — well, let’s just say he’s not leading with his brain.

So she has the keys to his professional image and is dabbling with LinkedIn by putting in incorrect information. Recently she uploaded a screen shot of him from a very important TV appearance he made on CNBC. As his profile photo. With his mouth open.

My cousin didn’t realize that the information his girlfriend put in on LinkedIn made it sound like he’d just started his practice and just now passed the bar in three states.

Under “Interests” in his profile, she put: “Boating and spending time at my lake house with my family.” She spends a lot of time at the lake house. How about his incredible knowledge and interest in Middle East politics?

This is not the profile of a solid, successful civil attorney with specialties and international clients.

Huge Mistake: LinkedIn requires a password. She has it. He’s allowing her to create an image for him that’s right out of high school. So what happens if you break up? What other passwords would you allow a romance to have access?

Tip: If you need help with your social media profiles, seek out someone who has credibility and experience in that area. Leave your loved ones out of it, and that includes your techie teens. And your love life.

Warning: Don’t assume because you put an incomplete profile on any social media that it’s going to be enough. Social media requires real investment of time, attention, and building credibility and relationships. Just plunking a minimal (or amateurish) profile in and ignoring it may cause more harm than good.

In Arrested Development, Michael Bluth’s ultimate caring and family loyalty (however trying) took him down a road that led to him facing a Federal court and taking a prison rap for his dad (who “may have committed some ‘light treason’” ), losing a woman who was right for him to his magician brother, and allowing his screwball relatives to cause chaos in the family business and life in general. On TV, it’s hilarious.

In your own business, it’s anything but funny.

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