In today’s digital world, social media is an invaluable - and indispensable - tool for most small businesses. Most consumers are checking apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a daily basis. As a small business, you’re able to interact and engage with consumers on a personal level, as well as brand your business in general. And you’re able to do so without spending a fortune on an advertising agency.
44 percent of local businesses say they rely on social media marketing to help grow their business. It’s a powerful tool to showcase your company’s personality and creativity, increase web traffic, and improve overall brand perception.
But that’s not to say that every small business gets their social media marketing right. Often, business owners or managers try to master social media while juggling too many other responsibilities, or not knowing how to engage with their audience.
Here are four common social media mistakes that first-time business owners make, and potential ways to avoid them.
1. Selling, Selling… and Selling
Any marketing effort should impact bottom line sales on some level, and social media marketing is no exception. However, it’s important to understand how - and why - people engage with brands on social media. Consumers don’t want to interact with companies or brands that are simply trying to sell all the time. It’s boring, tiresome, and transparent. Instead, people prefer to engage in conversations and discussions. They want to share content they find helpful or entertaining with their network. Selling is ok once in awhile, but your main social media strategy should be to engage (and expand) your follower base by posing stimulating/fun questions, sharing educational content, and representing your brand in a fun, visual way. Social media is about a two-way conversational dialogue, so steer clear of the one-sided sales-heavy approach.
2. Being Disingenuous
If there’s one thing people can spot from a mile away, it’s a phony. You obviously want to portray your business in the best light possible, but being disingenuous, dishonest, or exaggerating claims is one of the most dangerous traps some first-time business owners do fall into. You want your followers to engage with the information you’re sharing, actively likely and sharing your content because it’s unique to you. That’s the other half of brands being disingenuous on social media, only sharing or posting about topics solely because they’re trending or it’s what the competition is posting about. The best way to combat this perception, and to stay authentic, is to be original and showcase your true personality. That means featuring yourself, your background, and some of your staff. Over time, you’ll form a personal bond with your audience by staying true to your brand, and gain real, genuine, engaged followers.
3. Spreading Yourself Too Thin
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when just embarking on your social media marketing efforts. Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on - it’s not difficult to bite off more than you can chew. The biggest mistake first-time business owners make is creating accounts on too many platforms right away, and trying to juggle posting and engaging with people on all of them. You could quickly burn out, and more importantly, you won’t be good at any of them immediately because you might not be able to focus the time needed to make each great or effective. Instead, focus on the one or two platforms you think are best for your target audience. Then, once you see that you’re building a following, you’ll be able to add platforms incrementally over time - with much less headache.
4. Stalling Out
Success with social media marketing - especially for the uninitiated - doesn’t happen overnight. Know that you’ll have to do many other things, like integrate it with your other marketing efforts, not to mention offering a great product or service. It takes time, patience, and persistence, so don’t be deterred if you don’t earn a huge following within the first week or two. Also, have a long-term plan; don’t just put out a series of posts over a few days and abandon the accounts if nobody engages with them. Have a long term social media marketing plan, stay the course, and be willing to make adjustments along the way.
By avoiding these four common social media mistakes, you’ll be able to leverage what’s now a ubiquitous form of communication to help enhance your brand, engage with your customers, and grow your business.