Everybody makes mistakes, but doing so as a small business can be extremely damaging. When it comes to marketing strategies for social media, we all know that what you say and how you say can have negative consequences (think Papa John’s).
To protect your small business, here are 11 social media marketing mistakes to avoid:
1) Focusing on Followers and Not Engagement
So you have 3,000 followers on Twitter and 5,000 on Facebook. So what? People will follow anyone on social media, especially if there’s a chance to enlarge their own social media circle. But why would anyone want to follow a small business? You hope it’s because there’s an interest in your brand, and people are keenly waiting for you to engage them. We’re not talking about cat videos here, although there’s this new one where the cat jumps onto a … uh, never mind. Perhaps it’s an offer of a discount on a product or service, or perhaps it’s a teaching moment, such as this blog article. The fact remains that people will remain engaged with a business if they truly believe there is something in it for them. Selfish? Of course it is, but it’s their brand loyalty to give.
2) Buying Followers
It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s a prevailing one, with individuals and business seeming so desperate to appear popular on social media, that they purchase followers to inflate their engagement numbers artificially. Companies sell packages for a huge bump in numbers for Likes, Follows, Views, and even Comments. But here’s the thing, not only can purchasing Followers like this be a waste of time and money, it can hurt your brand. Purchasing Followers can erode your engagement with the customer. Despite all of the Followers, paid “likes” does not equal new business. Who are you marketing to, the 150 real Followers, or the 5,000 purchased ones? The smart small business owner knows the proper answer to that.
3) Posting Without A Marketing Plan
You’ve created a website, joined various social media networks, created all the various business profiles, and even posted your first blog. And then your business got busy, and everything social media is now no longer social. Why are people following you if you have nothing interesting to say or anything special to offer them. People are asking questions, and no one is providing timely answers. To avoid this, a small business must create a social media marketing strategy and then stick with it. Social media can cost a lot of time and effort for not a lot of tactile result. But by creating a marketing plan and sticking to it, you can create an opportunity for your business to achieve greater visibility. A social media marketing strategy for a small business includes: Goals; Target Audience; Team (even if it’s a team of one); Time Investment (10 minutes every day, perhaps – but definitely not all-day Wednesday); and a list of Tactics to employ.
4) Forgetting Your Audience
Figure out who your brand audience is and tailor your social media to their needs. Forgetting about the social media audience is akin to ignoring your customer base. An intermittent social media presence can cause your audience to forget about you.
5) Negative Dealings With Negative Feedback
While it sounds counterintuitive, what’s most important here is not how you address the negative feedback (though this is important), but rather what can be done to address the situation to ensure it does not happen again. In February 2019, No. 1 U.S. college basketball star Zion Williamson (drafted first this summer by the New Orleans Pelicans) sprained his knee after his Nike shoe blew apart during a game, with the sole coming apart from the rest of the shoe. Nike immediately issued a statement expressing its concern and wished Williamson a quick recovery while adding that it was an isolated occurrence and that they are “working to identify the issue.” Nike does not want any more negative press that could adversely affect shoe sales, so you can be sure the company is trying to resolve the issue to make sure it doesn’t happen again. For a large or small business, this is a good way to deal with negative comments – meet them head-on, apologize, and vow to resolve the issue.
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses can make is trying to utilize social media as a means to advertise. We would be lying if we said that wasn’t one of the uses of social media, but it is not the sole purpose. Social media should be used to communicate—not to chat about the weather or the latest beer at the local brewery—but rather as a way to engage the customer via conversation. Don’t post automatically, forwarding spam links. Think before you post or forward, about how it can be of some use to your clientele.
7) Too Much Self-Promotion
Inundating the customer with social media posts may seem like a good thing (ensuring your company is always on their mind), but it can also create negative consequences, where too much promotion can cause the audience to turn off. Yes, you can still self-promote–you should–but it should be subtle and non-advertorial. Engagement and social interaction are better. A good guideline to follow is the 80/20 rule; 80% informational, 20% promotional.
8) Not Tracking Analytics
Everyone knows they should track how their social media is working, but still, not everyone does it on a regular basis. And, to be perfectly frank, if you aren’t tracking your analytics, there’s no point in using social media. Google Analytics, for example, will analyze the traffic that visits your site. By measuring the quality of your visitors and the popularity of your posts, you can better plan your future social media marketing.
9) No Human Touch
Which would you prefer, a faceless corporate message thanking you for your business, or a real person sending a personal message – even if both are from the same company? People prefer interacting with real people rather than the “faceless corporation”. People can easily tell when a message is “crafted” by a corporate specialist, and more often than not are quickly turned off. No one wants to be spoken at—they want a conversational opportunity. Avoid the corporate-sounding messaging, and create a message that feels personal because it is personal.
10) Irregular Postings
As the old adage goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. A failure to communicate often with your customer base will, simply put, cause them to lose interest in your business. We’re not saying you need to tweet out “Happy Monday” once a week to engage your audience, rather you should use social media as a tool to provide updates on new products or services, giveaways, events, or to simply use it to teach and inform—about the industry, or about your business. Businesses must provide a reason for the “customer” to be honestly engaged. Causing customers to become disinterested is not the way to grow one’s business. As the expressive prison captain uttered in the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”
11) Poor Speling And Grammar
Spelling (with two “L’s”) and grammar are extremely important in the everyday communiques sent out by small, medium, and large businesses. A failure to exercise dominance of the written word, can not only muddle your message to the point of incoherence, but it can show your audience (customers and prospective customers) that you aren’t the best company to do business with. If you cannot be trusted to communicate effectively, can you be trusted to deliver an effective product or service?