These days, small businesses are utilizing social media to grow their brand in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, it’s easy for online companies to make easy mistakes when developing their social media strategies. Since there are so many sites and changes that are continually being thrown at everyone, it’s no wonder that small business owners feel like their ship is sinking. Well, instead of giving up on social media, we have the solution! Not only do we often offer tips during our free webinar training, but today we’re going to let you in on a secret. Keep reading to learn about 5 mistakes that you must stop making today. Master the art of being social online, and you’ll surely improve your business game!
1. Not committing to social media long-term
Unfortunately, social media is not a short term project. Post Planner tells us that it’s easy to get started and get rolling, but if you’re not follow through then, it’ll get challenging to grow your website. It doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour on social media every day. You’d be surprised how far spending 15-30 minutes daily can help your business grow.
Too many businesses get all amped up about their shiny new Facebook page, but then 2 months later have already forgotten to update it.
SOLUTION: Embrace social media as part of your business every day. Set aside 10-20 minutes every day to work on it. Don't try to accomplish everything at once, but take it one piece at a time. As the old saying goes: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
2. Lack of focus
Digital Marketing Institute discusses how having a lack of focus can be detrimental to your social media campaigns. It’s easy to get too spread out, which can lead to a lack of focus. Stay focused on a few goals at a time before you switch over to focusing on something new. Take baby steps before you tackle the giants.
When your PR department launches a campaign, it probably knows its target audience, much in the same way you would know who you were targeting with an ad or email campaign. But what about social media? Are you truly targeting an audience or putting your content out there for anyone and everyone to see and respond to? This “spray and pray” type of approach (advertising your business anywhere and everywhere, hoping that people will notice you and praying your hard work pays off) doesn't often lend the ROI businesses are looking for. Focus on connecting with people who matter to your business – your customers and prospects!
Once you have found your focus, it’s important to consider consistency. How often are you posting? It’s not ideal to leave your channels with no activity for days or weeks at a time. Determine a schedule that works for you and stick to it. If you have a chance, create a planning calendar so you can craft your messages for the week or month ahead of time. It takes some time, but it can save you hours in the long-run if you have a plan and strategy in place from the start.
Social media marketing is about much more than just posting your content and hoping potential customers react – there must be a more sophisticated strategy underpinning your actions to successfully align your social efforts with your overall business objectives.
3. Automating everything
Automation sure is convenient, but Post Planner makes a good point by telling us that it can turn away customers. It’s great to keep them updated, but if they’re seeing the same update ten times over, then they’re going to get turned off by your brand. Switch things up and keep them engaged by not posting the same thing day after day.
I often see Facebook pages that have blog posts automatically posting to their page. But what tends to happen is the app they're using posts 25 updates in about 10 minutes! This causes me and other fans to unlike the page or hide it!
Or they have Twitter posting to Facebook or Facebook posting to Twitter.
SOLUTION: Post to each site differently as the language, context and culture on each is different. There is nothing worse than seeing the @ symbol in a Facebook post referencing a Twitter username. It's a huge turn off to Facebook users and tells me you aren't really engaging on Facebook, just feeding it content.
Be careful of automatically posting blog posts via the different apps out there. Sometimes you may get too many posts all at once which will kill your Edgerank. And when I say don't automate I don't mean that you shouldn't schedule your posts with a tool such as Post Planner. Scheduling is different than automation. Scheduling means you are in control of your posts. Automation means the app is in control. So use automation wisely.
4. Not engaging with your audience
Similar to not posting the same thing every day, Neal Schaffer recommends not ignoring your audience. In other words — engage with them! An audience wants to get to know the brand through genuine engagement and not automatic posts that get pushed out.
The purpose of social media is to engage in discussions with people, yet far too many businesses make the mistake of only posting promotional content. Social profiles are frequently misunderstood as being sales tools and judged by how many visitors they refer to your website, but they can also be powerful customer service platforms to help you build brand loyalty and handle customer experience issues before they tarnish your reputation.
It’s crucial to respond quickly when your team discovers criticism about your brand. Ignoring complaints sends a message to your followers that you don’t care enough about them to reply, or worse, the complaint is valid and commonplace. Comments on your social profiles are public so every one of your followers can read the thread and see if you respond to problems.
Aside from negative comments, companies can learn a lot from their followers by asking questions, starting polls, and inviting feedback. Wouldn’t it be useful to ask your followers to vote before launching a new color or product? Maybe you’re looking to build a software tool and you want to know all of the features your customers need. Social media is much more useful as a telephone than a megaphone.
Dreamgrow adds to these thoughts by reminding brands not to be too “corporate.” As your small business grows, you may be tempted to engage less and punt the work off to a marketing company. That’s fine as long as you don’t lose sight of your brand and ignore your customers.
Being too “corporate.” People like people, and we get it really fast when we are fed another load of crafted marketing messages.
Social media is about people communicating with people. A faceless corporation is out of place on social media. When you are posting on your social media profile, you must add a little bit of human touch. When you are responding to a comment on your profile, then do not respond with your “stock” corporate response. Reply with a message that personally addresses the person in question and not something that was drawn up the PR department.
When a negative event occurs, keep your emotions in check. Most situations can be solved reasonably. Let the other side know that you understand how they feel and you are going to fix the situation. Never blame others and deal with the problem instead. If your ego is the only thing that gets bruised, let it go.
5. Not being willing to fail
Yes, we know this article is focused on mistakes you shouldn't make, but come on, we know you're going to make them! Everyone fails, and it’s okay if you do too. Neil Schaffer recommends being okay with failing, because how else are you supposed to learn?! Try, and if you don’t succeed, try harder!
With countless brand-crushing memes born from spelling errors, misunderstandings, and fumbled advertising attempts, smaller businesses may be terrified to even use social media. While a large corporation has deep enough pockets to weather a PR nightmare and absorb the resulting revenue losses, a social media mob could spell disaster for a mom-and-pop company.
Intelligently using social media carries far more reward than risk for micro-businesses. If you listen to your followers, react quickly and compassionately when needed, and develop an emergency plan if something does go wrong, you’ll be able to maximize the benefits of this channel while avoiding a potential crisis.
It’s up to you to strategically implement social media, and even though you’ll make mistakes, you should learn from them and do your best. If at all possible, do your best to avoid making errors, and hopefully these 5 tips helped. To learn more about social media and receive some additional small business tips, join us for our next free webinar training. Register for our upcoming training today!