Updated 09 October 2020.
Most small businesses know that they need to harness the power of social media as part of their digital marketing strategy. However, if not careful, some of the ways small businesses use social media could in fact hurt their brand rather than build brand loyalty.
To help you avoid some of these social media faux pas, here’s a brief list of common mistakes and solutions on how to avoid them.
1. Focusing on sales over the relationship
On social media the relationship comes first. If you’re only communicating product offers without providing any content of value to the customer you will soon lose your following.
Solution: Always aim to post double the amount of informative posts as sales post. Focus on providing helpful information and sharing your knowledge and the sales will follow.
2. Posting infrequently or without regularity
Ever visited a business’ Facebook page only to find that it hasn’t been updated for three months? Me too, and this is simply bad for business. Firstly, customers may assume that you have gone out of business! Secondly, they probably won’t take you seriously as an industry leader and instead look elsewhere.
Solution: Take time to sit down and create a content calendar. Plan out your posts for the month including blog posts you will share, industry trends and sales promotions and commit to a frequency of posting that is achievable for you e.g. daily.
3. Not dealing with negative comments
Many businesses have been known to simply delete negative comments rather than respond to them. This usually backfires as unhappy customers will retaliate by posting on Twitter (where comments can’t be erased) or by posting negative reviews all over the internet. Sometimes all a customer is looking for is a way to be heard and find a solution to their problem.
Solution: Always respond to negative comments. Think back to times you have been unhappy with products or services and respond empathetically. See if there is a way you could provide a solution.
4. Spreading yourself too thin
Small businesses that try to cover every social media platform either end up spreading themselves too thin and posting inconsistently or they spend so much time on social media that they neglect their core business operations.
Solution: Start with one or two networks. Choose those that offer the most reach for your target audience and that you feel most comfortable using, and post regularly and consistently. Once you have mastered these you can scale up from there if you so desire.
5. No social interaction
The key word in social media is social. It is supposed to be a place to connect and interact. Some businesses forget this and bombard their audience with their posts and opinions and forget to listen and respond to the feedback coming in. Most people who see your posts will never bother commenting so you should treasure those who do.
Solution: You should respond to every comment on your page even if it’s just a quick line saying, “Thanks, Dan. We appreciate your feedback”. Ideally all comments should be responded to within 24 hours.
6. Forgetting to measure your ROI
Traffic, likes, shares and retweets are all important, however they are only part of the equation. How do you know if the time and energy you are investing in social media is generating a return for you? Well you won’t unless you commit to tracking your ROI.
Solution: Set up some goals around what type of return on investment you hope to see, and then use Google Analytics to track and compare.
7. Inconsistent branding
Social media is a chance to show your personality, but there is such a thing as taking this too far. Everything you post reflects on your brand, so it still needs to look and sound professional, and be consistent with your messaging across other platforms.
Solution: Use only logos and photos that are brand-consistent. Read up on branding; there are many inexpensive or free resources out there. Have a clearly defined social media policy for your company so any employees that post to social media know what is acceptable and what is not.
8. The meme/cute kittens strategy
Yes, memes and photos of cute kittens are funny and adorable. But if this is all you’re posting then you might be too focused on gaining a large number of followers and not focused enough on the quality and reputation you are projecting into the world. Memes and cute kittens are not a complete social media strategy.
Solution: I’m not saying never post content like this, but keep it to a minimum. When you do choose to post this kind of content make sure that it is relevant to your industry and not just to get attention. People might laugh at a meme but unless it is relevant, they probably won’t buy from you.
At the end of the day social media can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you use it. In all your endeavours try to be thoughtful and user-centric.
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