Why is it that you, as a small business owner, “do” social media?
- Is it to promote your store to people near you, thus increasing foot traffic?
- Is it to drive website traffic and ultimately sales?
- Do you use it to show off new products and features?
- Is it to keep in touch with customers are respond to queries, complaints, and questions?
- Is it an important part of your overall SEO and content strategy?
- Or is it just because you’ve heard from an expert or two that “you must be on social media”? (Even if you feel like you’re navigating your way through
Instagram with your eyes shut?)
Social media for small business can be tough. A lack of time is often cited as the most common reason why social falls flat. There are a number of common social media mistakes small business owners are making time and time again. Are you guilty?
Social media mistake #1: You haven’t established solid social media goals
The overall goal of all your online, digital, and web marketing tactics and efforts is to, ultimately, get more sales which leads to making more money.
There are, however, a ton of sub-goals that all contribute to your overarching marketing goal. These goals must be specific and realistic.
Social media can fulfil a few of those sub-goals, including:
When someone discovers your brand for the first time, they might investigate one or two of your social networks.
With regular posting, you’re sharing information, tips, advice, images, and news about your brand and industry, helping a new fan better understand the product or services you offer. Something like brand awareness cannot be quantified… and that’s OK!
An active, good-looking social media presence does wonders for your credibility. An inactive Facebook page or a Twitter account whose last post was in 2014 isn’t the best way to show off your company to a potential lead; in fact, as trivial as it might sound, it might be enough to turn them off.
Drive website traffic
Don’t fall into the trap of turning your Facebook page into a promotion machine, churning out post after post of links to your website. However, each time you publish a new blog post, receive a new product, or have exciting news to share, do so on Facebook, with a link back to your site.
Every month, look at Google Analytics and see which social networks are driving the most traffic to your website. You might learn over a few months that Instagram is more effective than Twitter when it comes to driving website traffic. As such, you can adjust your strategy and invest more time into Instagram.
A business that’s active on social media can actually help influence its Google rankings. Google wants to promote active, educational, high quality companies, and social is one way to ensure you uphold that.
The above sub-goals may not directly reflect a sale, but this is an important thing:
There are four other stages in the purchase cycle, so you can’t become fixated on just the one stage of “Purchase”. If you do, you’re ignoring up to 80% of your customers. Social media helps you address them, gently nurturing leads through education and entertainment, without being over-promotional.
Get familiar with each stage of the Purchase Cycle in this blog post.
Social media mistake #2: Little context surrounding a piece of curated content
I think this is an underrated mistake many small businesses make on social media.
What do I mean? It’s when someone shares a link to his or her company page without saying anything else. Just a link.
There are so many ways you can add context when you want to share a link to a blog post (yours or someone else’s) or any other article.
(And personally, it makes we question whether an article has even been read in the first place, before someone thought, “Eh, this looks good enough; let’s share it!”)
- Quote something important, significant, or funny from the article
- Cite a relevant statistic (either sourced elsewhere or from the article)
- Share an opinion about the article’s topic
- Ask a question about the topic
You should give context to anything you share, otherwise your readers will wonder the significance, ask themselves why they would bother clicking, and then keep on scrolling. Tempt them. Make them want more. Ensure they can’t resist the click!
(BUT… don’t be click-baity: “See the guy in the background with the white shirt? You’ll NEVER believe what he did next!” If an article can’t legitimately amaze, stun, delight, shock, or charm a reader, don’t tell them it will. By sensationalising the topic, but linking to an underwhelming article, you’re letting down a reader.)
Social media mistake #3: Inconsistency
Pat yourself on the back: you’ve posted consistently to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for a whole month now.
You’re sharing one image per day on Instagram, 3-4 posts per week on Facebook, and 5 Tweets a day on Twitter. Excellent work!
However, this week, you’ve slipped. You missed out on Tuesday’s Instagram post and Facebook hasn’t seen a post since last Thursday. Whoops!
It happens: tight deadlines, sick days, and other priorities can leave us feeling left behind, as we scramble to catch up with all aspects of running a small business.
You’ve worn yourself out over a small burst of energy at the start, but now, you’re faltering. The error generally lies in doing too much too soon, which quickly wavers and the contrast between the “then” and the “now” becomes very apparent.
The solution is a content calendar. Without giving any excuses, you must dedicate a portion of your time to good social media planning. For example, you can dedicate the first hour of Tuesday morning to social media content for the rest of the week, and the last hour of Monday afternoon to analyse last week’s stats.
Use a tool like Hootsuite (free for up to three accounts) to schedule in all posts for the week.
Social media mistake #4: Not using analytics properly
Most social networks come with free analytics tools that provide good insight into your page or profile’s performance.
These, however, only provide insights into on-page activities (e.g. reach, likes, and comments on a specific Facebook post).
As such, social insights should be used in conjunction with Google Analytics to marry up the on-page social analytics and your website’s analytics.
This is where you can investigate the social networks driving the most traffic, what pages these users are visiting, and what goals are being fulfilled.
Social media mistake #5: No inve$tment
Once upon a time, not too long ago, brands relished all the free, organic reach their social media pages were gaining.
We thought, “Who needs to shell out money on newspaper, radio, or television ads when social media will advertise my business for free?”
Like the saying goes, though, all good things come to an end. It wasn’t too long before social networks thought that they could capitalise on brands wanting to expand their reach and put their products in front of the people that matter to them.
And so, social media advertising began. If brands wanted to reach their target markets, social networks told them to “cough up”.
Now, organic reach is down to its lowest low, so if you’re not using social media advertising on at least one of your chosen networks, you’re missing out on hundreds, if not thousands, of people viewing your products, learning about your brand, and visiting your website.
Social media mistake #6: "Doing" too many social networks
Feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin on social media? Then you probably are!
When a new social network emerges and shakes up the current landscape, it’s only natural to take a closer look at it and assess whether it could benefit your brand.
However, we’ve always maintained the opinion that just because a social network exists, it doesn’t mean you need to be on it.
If one of your target markets isn’t using it and you don’t have the time to manage it properly, why are you on it?
You might be looking up to bigger brands that, even if their brand doesn’t exactly match a social network’s tone, are using it anyway. But you’ve got to remember these are large, often global companies with thousands of marketing dollars and a well-known profile behind them.
There is, of course, no ideal number of social networks to use, but if you’re a new business, there are generally two paths you can follow:
1) Set up the obvious social networks…
…like Facebook and/or Instagram, and perhaps one other like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest. Use them for a few months, analyse how much time you’re spending on each (and in total).
If you’re struggling to manage all of them and find yourself neglecting one over the others, drop it. Be ruthless!
2) Start with one, and build from there
Perhaps Facebook is the obvious choice, but as a B2B business, Instagram really doesn’t resonate with you, your brand, or your target markets. Maybe add LinkedIn to the mix after a month or two.
There’s really no clear-cut solution, and before you know it, “test everything” will become your new mantra. The bottom line, though, is to be where you think your customers are. Anywhere else becomes significantly less important.