We've all seen them before. Creeping up on your social media, trying to win your approval and subsequently the approval of your friends. One minute they’re filling your heart full of hope, and the next, you are trying not to resent them. No, I’m not talking about your last love interest. I’m talking about social media contests. “Share this post with 30 of your closest friends, tag your 5 relatives, and comment how much you love us.” After all, you could win a trip of a lifetime. Doing this as a business owner has the potential to greatly increase your “likes” on Facebook, or your followers on Twitter. But does this actually help your customer relations and, in turn, your company as a whole? Well, that all depends on the way you go about it. I am going to talk more about this, and 2 more things you are doing that you didn't know are hurting your business. The Contest Going back to the opening example. There are a variety of ways to engage with your customers, especially online. This gives you a platform for generating positive feelings towards your business, but it also leaves it susceptible to generating negative ones. One of my co-workers follows a photography company on Instagram and they have a knack for hosting awesome photo contests. This can be great for gaining followers and even for creating a positive customer experience, but you have to be careful. He is a hobbyist photographer with decent experience and has submitted some high quality photos to these contests. When he didn't win, he’s had a slightly negative feeling towards the company. Nobody wants to hear that their favorite action shot of a skier lost to a grainy photo of a snow covered tree just because it got more likes from the popular submitter; especially when it’s a photography competition. My point here is that if you are going to do a contest, make sure the guidelines are clear and that you adhere to them in picking a winner. If possible, try to thank everyone for participating on an individual basis. They will appreciate the gesture and your customers will keep positively engaging. Engagement Next we move on to engagement, or lack thereof. This is another way you might be hurting your business. You post a job opening on your website, get 10 applicants, and only reach out to the top 3. You are too busy to tell all of the applicants that they didn't get an interview. You post something on your Facebook page, someone replies to it. You don’t get on social media often enough to see that someone replied to your post. Or, frankly, you just didn't like something about that person or what they said, so you didn't re-engage them. “These things happen, so what!” So what, is that these customers are going to have a bad taste in their mouth. I applied for a dream internship my Junior year in college spending the entire semester working on my application portfolio. When it came down to it, I got a generic email stating that I didn't get an interview. Almost 5 years later and I still have a sour taste in my mouth. Make it a point to engage with everyone, especially if you are a smaller company; you can handle it. Send an email thanking every applicant for considering your company as a place of employment—make it personal. Reply to that comment on Facebook. It’s the simple things that will keep customers appreciating your business and make them want to come back time after time. It’s also the little things you missed that will allow for competitors to infiltrate the minds of your customers and win their business. Don’t skip the little things. Find a Solution This is one I see all the time. You go to a store “Do you have any ____ in stock?” and the owner/associate simply says “no.” You then say, “Do you know where I can find it?” followed by the resounding “no.” This applies to any type of business: brick and mortar, e-commerce, service providers, etc. It seems like something so small to say that you are sorry and that you cannot help them. And at the time, maybe it’s not that big of deal to them. However, if you are a shoe store, as soon as they order their next pair of shoes at Zappos.com, you are losing that customer forever. A company like Zappos who will bend over backwards to make sure you are satisfied, will even overnight you a replacement pair of shoes for free and refund your original purchase, doesn't expend a lot of effort to gain a lifetime customer. If you have to take an extra step to help them find something in your store, do it. Even if you have to send them to a competitor because you are temporarily out of stock, do it. It will make a lifetime customer out of them for a one time slight inconvenience for you.