Without question, social media has dramatically leveled the playing field of business. Where larger organizations once stood out, thanks to their hefty marketing budgets, smaller local businesses are now able to reach their audiences without the limits they once struggled with. Of course, as with just about everything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do social media for business. Let’s take a gander at the top 20 mistakes local small companies make with their SMM campaigns, shall we?
1. Not Defining Goals
How on earth can you know if you’re hitting the mark if you don’t even know what that mark is? Successful social media campaigns have clearly defined goals that were set in advance. This allows you to measure your progress and modify your approach accordingly. “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.” Truth.
Some of the most typical goals include: driving traffic to your website, promoting an offer or event, and/or building your email list. If you’re posting just for brand awareness, that’s fine as well, but I would not expect to be able to measure ROI with just posting.
2. Not Understanding the Audience
If your ideal customer base is men aged 18-30 and you’re spending 80% of your time on Pinterest, you may need to reassess where you’re spending your most valuable time. Understand who you are trying to reach so you can determine which channels and what type of content would be the best fit. A great way to do that is to check out Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics and find out who your fans are. If you don’t have enough fans or followers, spend some cash building up your audience and reassess. (Here are some deets to get you started.)
3. Trying to be Super-person
There are a ton of social networks to join, from LinkedIn to Instagram to the old standbys, Facebook and Twitter. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be a superstar on every single platform. Where you’ll end up is mediocrity at best and, often times, lack of a consistent brand voice which is a big no-no. Pick 1-2 social media platforms, use Buffer, and then become a rock star on those two platforms before expanding. If you want to cast a wider net, hire social media professional help. We do this all day everyday.
4. Being too Patient
If you build it…they will come…NOT. Seriously, don’t just sit back with your fingers crossed and hope your target audience will somehow find your social profiles. Promote them! Share them on your website, in your blog posts, and in your email signatures. As the adorable little old lady on the Frank’s Red Hot commercial so eloquently says it, “put that sh*t on everything”. Use tools like Tweet Adder, SocialBro, and/or Manage Flitter to start building your twitter audience. For Facebook, you have to spend money to make money. So learn how to use Facebook Advertising to build your audience and promote with purpose.
5. Treating SMM like an Afterthought
10 years ago you might have gotten away with treating social media like the red-headed stepchild of your marketing plan, but today…not so much. The businesses that are most successful on social media are those who make it a priority. If you don’t have time to do it, hire a social media professional.
6. Forgetting the “Social” Part
As a consumer, I’m not going to stay connected to your brand on Facebook (or any other social network) if all you do is bombard me with ads for your product or service. The beauty of social media done right is the personal connection your brand can make with your customers. Be human. Be funny. Show some personality. I know it’s in there. See there’s that smile :)
7. Not Listening
Did you know that 35% of consumers use a business’ social channels to seek support? More importantly, 51% of those people say that the company’s response had the potential to provide a much more favorable opinion of that brand. If you’re not listening, you’re not responding, which means you’re missing the opportunity to create a positive brand experience. Don’t let your social media profile become a customer experience battlefield. Respond and respond professionally.
8. Sharing Boring or Useless Content
The whole “know your audience” rule is also important for understanding what type of content these people are looking for. Consumers will stick with a brand that provides them something of value (WIIFM). Without this component, you’ll be losing ground quickly. If you were your customer, what would you want to read about?
Yes, you need to be active on social media. No, you don’t need to share the intimate details of your day. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people unfollow a brand on social media is because they post too often (more than 6 times a day). Keep it valuable, relevant and simple. On the other side, remember than less than 5% ever go to your profile page. So don’t be afraid to post more than 2-3 times a day. Chances are most likely that you’ll be reaching a different audience with each post. Use tools like Buffer and SocialBro to find when your ideal audience is online.
10. Pulling a Houdini
You worked so hard setting up all your social pages. You even put pretty pictures to go with your clever company description. But then you just sort of…..dropped off the face of the planet. While it’s never a good idea to post constantly, keeping your accounts active by posting at least 3 times per week is essential.
11. Not Using Keywords
Social media profiles are goldmines for search engines. If your profiles are not optimized for your targeted keywords, you’re missing the boat. Relevant keywords mean that your social media profiles will get more visibility on the search engines. Think SEO for Social Media.
12. Posting without Thinking First
If you share everything that pops into your head the moment you think it, you might land yourself in hot water. At the very least, you could end up losing the respect of your fans and followers and ultimately losing business as a result. Post with purpose.
13. Ignoring negative feedback
Nobody wants to see bad things written about their business, especially when those things are posted on social media for the whole world to see. But choosing not to respond may do more harm than good. Be professional, acknowledge, validate, apologize and propose a solution. Even if you think the commenter is a royal jerk, handle with class and care.
14. Not Promoting Lead-gen
Yes, your social profiles are great. But the real goal should be to use these platforms as vehicles to drive lead generation for your business. It’s not enough that people visit your Facebook page. You want to provide incentive to push that traffic back to your website so you can convert them to paying customers. This is where the ROI factor comes in that we discussed earlier.
15. Lack of brand consistency
I touched on it in one of the points above, but brands that are not consistent across all social platforms tend to perform more poorly overall. When people interact online with your brand, they want to know that they’ll get the same experience regardless of the avenue they choose. For example, logos, colors and brand voice should all be the same regardless of platform. If possible, try to use the same handle for each profile as well.
16. Not Scratching Others’ Backs
You want people and other businesses to like, comment on and share your content so don’t forget to do the same for them. It’s just the right thing to do and many times something that we forget to do. Hey, we’re human but it’s never too late to change.
17. Using Too Much Automation
Most of the social platforms have features that allow you to automate your responses. The problem is who wants to receive messages from a robot? Limit your use of these tools or be careful with your approach. Yes, they can save you 30 minutes to an 1 hour/day but establish a human system. Change it up a little.
18. Lack of Creativity
The goal is to get as many quality followers and fans on all your active social media accounts. If you’re posting all the same information on all your pages at the same time, you’re taking away incentive for people to connect with you on multiple platforms. Be unique and creative on each. Make sure each platform has it’s own voice. It’s not super hard to do because of the character limit.
19. Not Leveraging Images
Engagement rate on posts containing images is 200% higher than plain text updates or tweets. Enough said.
20. Failing to Track Results
How can you know how well all your hard work is paying off if you’re not regularly analyzing the results? Conduct an analysis to identify areas that need improvement and other things that may be working well that could be duplicated or expanded on. There are great tools like AgoraPulse, Bufferapp, SocialBro, Hootesuite, and of course, Google Analytics if you’re driving traffic to your website. Remember, if it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.
So, there you have it. The 20 biggest mistakes businesses make on social media. Now that you know what not to do, get out there and start posting, tweeting, pinning and most importantly, engaging your fans and followers so they want to stay connected with your brand.