5 social media mistakes small businesses make
So today we’re talking social.
It can be overwhelming, can’t it? Everyone told you that you needed to have a social media presence, that it was absolutely integral to your business success.
So you opened an account on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ and you created a company page on LinkedIn. But you’ve been going a few months now and all you seem to have achieved is lost time.
Sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) social media can seem like it isn’t really worth the hassle. Especially for small businesses. There’s no immediate gratification with social, just lots and lots of invested time.
Well, I’m here to tell you where you might be going wrong.
1. Investing your time in too many channels
Social media takes time. Curating effective content, replying to mentions and monitoring trending topics are just a few things that you’ll need to do daily just to keep up.
It’s a reactive and fast-paced environment where everyone is vying for the funniest, most topical content. It’s not possible for small businesses to keep up if they’re trying to manage five (or sometimes more) channels. Remember big brands have teams of people working on their social media content.
Pick two channels that work for your business and invest your time there. After all it’s better to do one thing really well than six things badly.
2. Not researching where your customers are active
This leads on from the last point really. There’s no need to invest time in Pinterest if your target audience is mechanics in their 50’s. Only 13% of Pinterest's users are men so it would be a completely wasted effort.
If you’re in the B2B space then you’re probably better placed spending your efforts on LinkedIn. If you own a bridal boutique, you need to be doing local targetting on Facebook. If your business is all about beautiful products, Instagram is your jam.
Do some research on the audience breakdown of each social media channel. You’ll soon figure out which ones are right for you. This post from Sprout Social gives a really in-depth picture of the demographics of each of the major social media channels and is a great place to start.
3. Not having clear (or any) goals
Often businesses rush into launching their social media channels with no plan of action or documented goals. Not having a clue about what you want to get out of your social media activity means you’re just kind of bumbling around in the dark. Am I right?
Not only will having goals allow you to measure the success of your efforts but they will also inform the kind of content you want to post.
Do you want to increase engagement?
Drive traffic to your website?
Raise awareness of your brand?
Increase the number of customers through the door?
Each of those goals informs a different type of content so without them, how will you know what to post?
Have a think about what you really want to achieve from your social media efforts. I think you’ll find that having clear goals helps you to create content that really delivers for your business.
4. Lacking in internal expertise
This isn’t a mistake, as such, but something that small businesses suffer from. They often don’t have the headcount or the expertise in-house to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to social media.
Luckily there are a few solutions that you can consider:
Put an employee with a genuine interest in social media in charge and allow them the time to research and keep on top of trends
There are lots of low-cost social media courses out there for businesses. These often only take a day out of your schedule and give the basics along with some food for thought on how to improve your social media activity
Consult with a freelance professional (like me!) who will be able to provide guidance, advice and social management services for you at a much-reduced price to a social media agency.
Effective social media is best managed by someone who understands the industry and knows how to get the most out of the time that’s spent there. So anything you can do to either increase knowledge internally, or bring a little bit of expertise in externally, will help you in the long-run.
Take a look at the options above and choose the one that will really work for your business.
5. One-way traffic
The clue to social media is in its name - it’s social. Posting content that simply pushes messages out to your followers is a sure fire way of encouraging them to unfollow you.
Not participating in conversations, only posting links to your website and sending repetitive tweets asking people to come and visit your shop will not cut it these days. You have to invest time in your followers to get anywhere on social.
Of course, you need to post links to your website, especially if driving web traffic is one of your goals. But you need to focus on creating good content on your website that is useful for your readers.
Say I run a clothing shop for women. I could either:
Post links to the different items in my shop
Post a link to a blog post I created about spring fashion trends
Which do you think will appeal more to my followers - conscientious fashionable young women? It’s definitely going to be the latter. Chances are they will love more than one item in my blog post and that might be reflected in their shopping basket.
If you don't have a blog on your website, now is the time to add one. Consider what questions your audience has and create content that solves their problems.
So there you have it, my top five mistakes that all small businesses make on social media. If you fix those up, you’ll be in a good position moving forward with a clearer aim and plan for your channels.
ave you ever made any social media mistakes? I’d love the hear them (and how you turned it around, of course) in the comments.