5 common mistakes that small businesses make with social media
Social media undoubtedly has a role to play in the online success and growth of your business. Few mediums offer the ability to tap into such a wide portion of your market, to offer more direct customer service, and to turn customers into brand fans. The brand recognition, loyalty, and revenue that the top online platforms like Twitter and Facebook have to offer are not to be underestimated.
However, a lot of small businesses might be a little too eager to start dominating the online world. Without the right preparation and research, it’s easy to make some major mistakes that could leave your audience with the wrong impression or stunt the kind of social growth you want to see, pushing your goals further and further away. Here are some of the top social media mistakes made by small businesses and what you can do to avoid them.
Posting without a strategy
Establishing a social media presence and creating a profile is always a recommended first step, but you should take a moment to stop and think before you start posting. You need to consider your aims with social media, whether you’re looking to simply improve your brand awareness online, to retain existing customers, or to build new leads.
Your strategy should be dictated by your aims. If you’re looking to build new leads, then employing tactics like gated content and contests give you ways to engage with your audience while also serving as a way to gather emails that can serve as the first step of the marketing funnel. To retain existing customers, you want to focus on engaging and supporting those of your market who are already on social media. You don’t have to boil it down to a single goal; you can work on multiple at once.
Similarly, you should consider which platform you establish your presence on and why. Where is your market active? What formats best fit your brand? Brands with visually appealing products, like fashion and home products, can do better on platforms that have a visual focus, such as Instagram for instance. Meanwhile, LinkedIn could be a great choice for B2B brands, given its emphasis on professionals and business owners.
Not having a social media code of practice
Brand integrity is crucial, no matter what platform your brand manifests on. When it comes to social media, and an inconsistent tone can break the image you’re trying to cultivate, making it harder for your audience to connect with you.
As such, a code of practice or style guide can make sure that whoever posts on the account has a few guidelines to follow to ensure they maintain brand integrity. Some brands get away with being a little edgy and poking fun (just look at the recent success of Wendy’s Twitter account), while the same kind of attitude could be disastrous to the reputation of a more strait-laced or family-friendly brand.
Of course, you need to consider some basic rules of posting, too. Inappropriate content, poorly formatted images, personal posts, and the like should be kept out of the realm of your social media marketing.
Not practicing social listening
One of the huge benefits of social media is how much insight it can lend your business. You occasionally need to stop posting and start listening. Looking at direct feedback is all well and good, but you can also use social media management tools to monitor mentions of your brand even if they aren’t aimed at you.
Similarly, you should monitor competitor’s posts, mentions of their brands, and posts from industry influencers and publications. All of this insight can help you better see what social media marketing strategies don’t, drawbacks of the business you need to correct, strengths you can capitalise on, and more. With good social listening, you may even be able to poach dissatisfied customers from your competitors.
Making it all about you
Self-promotion is an important part of online success, but it’s not the only thing you should spend your time doing on social media. If your audience feels like they’re just consistently being marketed to, they will lose interest.
Try to find a blend of different content styles. Share informative or advice pieces designed to help existing customers or to help audience members navigate the market. Engage directly, offering support to your audience without trying to sell them on anything. In the end, the brand authority and good will you earn will translate to more sales, anyway, so you don’t always have to go the direct route.
Don’t be afraid to share content from others, whether they’re members of your audience, influencers, or other brands. They may be likely to help boost your platform in response, and your audience will appreciate the breadth of high-quality content you share with them no matter where it comes from.
Not checking your posts over twice (or even thrice)
It might sound simple, but mistakes and sloppy posts on social media are unfortunately common. Spelling errors, unfortunate phrasing incidents, link posts where the wrong link was posted, personal posts accidentally put on the business account. We’ve seen it all.
Give yourself a couple of minutes before sending any post live to read over it and make sure that everything is as it should be. If you have a social media management tool, you can also schedule posts for the future. This makes it a lot easier to check in advance for any issues that might trip you up when it goes live.
Can you thrive on social media?
Don’t let the examples above put you off your dreams of conquering social media. As competitive a platform as it can be, and as exposed as it can leave your brand, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs. Take the time to get to learn the platforms you’re using, listen to your competitors as well as your audience, and ensure you’re putting out content that your audience will gladly engage with. Social media success can be yours if you’re willing to work for it.