Using Social Media to Your Advantage
The word “communication” has taken on a whole new meaning since the invention and astonishing growth of online social media websites and networks. We are now able to connect and stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues who are miles away as long as they have access to the internet.
In addition to giving us a means to stay connected, social media sites provide businesses with various new ways to market their products and services. These methods are cost-effective and have a huge potential to reach your local target audience.
The good news is that most small business owners are aware of how powerful social media can be for their companies; so they have implemented marketing strategies and techniques that involve the use of social media.
The bad news is that there are still millions of businesses that are not using social media. Moreover, some companies are making some critical mistakes that could prevent them from generating new customers, as well as hinder their ability to retain existing customers.
Some of these mistakes could end up costing your business a lot of time and money that you just don’t have to waste.
Therefore, in this post, we will discuss some of the popular mistakes business owners are making today in social media and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Developing a Full Social Media Plan
While using social media to market your business may seem simple, it’s not. All you have to do is jump on some social media sites and start posting, and the sales will come pouring in, right? Wrong…
Many companies mistakenly believe that they can start using social media without an adequate, well-defined plan. However, in order to really use social media to generate more sales for your business, planning is not an option – but a must.
Which social media platforms are right for your business? How many social media platforms should you use? How often should you post content? How much of this content should be “promotional” vs. “helpful”? How often should you engage with your followers?
There are many other questions that can be added to this list and they all should be answered before you take a dive into the social media world.
It is important that every company outlines the specific details and implement a practical strategy to reach their business goals using social media. Once the plan is in place, everything should be smooth sailing as you move forward. Not only will this save you a lot of headaches in the long-run, but it should also help you increase profits over time.
Mistake #2: Doing Too Much Too Fast
Soon after deciding to use social media marketing, many small business owners jump into all aspects without fully understanding how to use them. Not only that, they join every possible social media site they can with hopes of getting more eyes on their business.
This is a huge mistake because it is very easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of your main goals. Not all aspects of social media make sense for every company which is why you, as the business owner, need to do some research prior to starting the marketing process.
Instead of trying to jump into very possible social network, choose a few platforms that make sense for your business. You only want to focus on networks that will allow you to easily connect with local consumers. Once you’ve mastered those and are seeing results, then it’s time to expand your efforts to other sites and social media strategies.
Mistake #3: Taking the “Half-Hearted” Approach
When it comes to branding and social media marketing, most platforms offer businesses a space to insert their brand name, logos, company details, and more.
However, many companies make the mistake of not completing their profiles. Incomplete profiles can make your business appear unprofessional, which could impact your ability to gain followers.
A complete profile works positively towards showing your prospects and customers that you are serious about establishing a strong online presence. Not only that, but completed profiles will help your business come up in search engine results, which leads to even more visitors, followers, and customers.
Another problem many businesses face is that they use the “set it and forget it” approach. Again, social media involves constant socialization with your audience. Even if you are using some automation processes in your social media campaigns, you still have to monitor conversations and participate in them.
Mistake #4: Not Engaging with and Listening to Your Audience
Social media is exactly that – a medium used to “socialize.” When it comes to business marketing, companies should set aside ample time to interact with their audiences and update them with new content on a consistent basis.
Lack of engagement is a huge barrier to some businesses being successful using social media. Without it, your chance of bringing in any solid results is very low.
If you are promoting your business using social media and not interacting and listening to your audience, you’re making a mistake that could cause your audience to dwindle away.
It is easy for your campaign to fall flat if you constantly talk about your business and never listen to your audience. So ask your followers engaging questions. Do things to spark conversations regarding your industry, but be sure to go further than just “selling.”
Include helpful tips and information related to the needs and wants of your target audience – this should be your main focus.
Do not concentrate too much on “selling.” People are interested in “information” rather than “buying.” So the good information you provide is what actually fuels the sales you seek.
Mistake #5: Over-Using Social Media
While social media should definitely be a piece of your marketing puzzle, over-using it could backfire. Many companies fall victim to this practice.
Some businesses setup social media accounts and proceed to publish too much content and too many updates. Doing so could become “annoying” to your audience and cause them to stop following your business.
Instead of giving them information overload, give your followers some time to take in your posts before generating more content. In the beginning, you should gage how well your audience accepts your posting habits and adjust accordingly.
Focus on finding the right balance when it comes to the amount of content you post and how often you post. Also, try to avoid automation wherever possible because content that sounds natural gets the best conversions.
Mistake #6: Posting the Same Messages Over and Over
Many businesses get caught up in re-posting the same messages on their social media pages, which could be a big turn-off for their audiences.
Instead of posting the same content repeatedly, develop a plan that will allow you to post “fresh” content often – your followers will appreciate this more and stick around.
Mistake #7: Ignoring Questions and Comments from Followers
Any business can expect to have a few unhappy customers from time to time. However, it’s how you handle those unhappy customers that matters.
Many businesses have social media profiles, but do not bother to respond to questions and comments made on their pages. They simply ignore them, which presents a bad image of the company.
Instead of ignoring them, you should promptly respond and answer any questions they have and handle any legitimate complaints.
Mistake #8: Directly Copying Your Competitors
Of course you should keep an eye on your competition to see what they’re doing. However, copying all of their techniques and strategies could backfire.
Some businesses may be doing things that “appear” to be working, but who knows what’s really going on in the background. There’s nothing worse than copying an “ineffective” method or one that could cause you to actually lose followers.
It is important that you develop your own unique style that will easily set your business apart from the other players in your industry. Besides, if you simply set-out to copy your competitions’ every move, they are likely to beat you at your own game.
Mistake #9: Being Content with a Small Audience
You may be running a small business, but that does not mean you need to settle for a small social media audience. In fact, for the best results, your audience should be as big as possible. Just to be clear, this audience should be targeted and focused on your local market.
While getting followers from all over the world doesn’t really hurt, you won’t see an increase in sales if you ignore the “local” aspect of your social media campaigns.
Mistake #10: Posting Content that is Boring and Offers No Value
Posting boring content that offers no value to the audience is a big mistake made by many businesses. “Boring content” can be described as content that does not grab your audience’s attention.
This can happen when you post information that is irrelevant to your industry or doesn’t keep your followers interested.
Therefore, every business should strive to create new evergreen content that never becomes stale. This content should also be filled with helpful information that your followers crave in order to keep them glued to your social media pages.
Both your promotional offers and general content should have a “personal and engaging” feel that shows that you really care about your prospects’ and customers’ wants and needs.
Do not be afraid to include some “fun” and “light-heartedness” in your content as this can boost your results even further as long as you stay within limits and keep it professional at all times.
Mistake #11: Not Timing Your Updates Properly
When looking to generate more “local” customers, businesses must be sure to post content on their social media profiles during times when most of their target market is online.
However, some companies make the mistake of posting content during off-hours, which doesn’t provide the best results since most of their audience is not online.
Sure, they will logon the next day and see what has been posted, but people are more likely to respond to offers and content when they are freshly posted.
The bottom line is that businesses should focus on distributing content at optimal times that make sense for their audiences. If you are not sure when you should post, try doing some testing to see what times generate the best response, as well as what times you should avoid all together.
Mistake #12: Not Including Sharing Links in Your Web Content
So you’ve spent all of this time setting up and creating awareness around your social media profiles, but are you doing everything you can to generate more traffic to them?
Many businesses are not, which is a costly mistake. Social media content can quickly go viral due to the fact that people can easily share content with their family, friends, and associates.
However, many of them won’t share it unless you make it easy for them to do so. This means including sharing links in all of your web content such as your website, blog posts, emails, and more
“Sharing links” are simply icons and links that include a call-to-action telling viewers to share your content with others. Imagine how much additional business you can generate this way without spending a bunch of money on paid advertising. In fact, you don’t have to do anything to generate these extra eyes on your business – your followers do it for you as long as you make it easy and simple for them to do.
Mistake #13: Not Connecting Your Social Media Profiles Together
Some businesses neglect to link their social media profiles to each other, which is a huge profit leak. If you’re on Facebook, why not let your Facebook followers know that you’re also on Twitter – and vice versa?
You should also connect your social media profiles to your website or blog for ultimate exposure.
The more connections you have with your followers, the better. Not only is this powerful for branding, but it also allows you to reach an even wider audience than you could without connecting them.
Mistake #14: Being Inconsistent
All business marketing tools and strategies require consistency in order to get the best results. However, many business owners miss out on the opportunity to grow their social media presence because they’re not consistent with their efforts.
Inconsistency can cause you to “lose touch” with your audience. For instance, if they don’t hear from you on a consistent basis, they will feel like you’re too busy to connect with them.
Waiting weeks and months to post new content to your social media profiles could hurt your image. Instead, develop schedules that will allow you to post consistent content so you can truly stay in touch with your audience and keep them interested in what your business has to offer.
It is also important that you are consistent with “how” you setup and run each of your social media networks. Some companies make the mistake of using different profile names and different logos across their profiles.
As a best practice, try to keep your social network profile names the same – if that is not possible, keep them as close as possible. This is to avoid confusion for your target market. A consistent brand image is vital to building a strong social media presence and generating more leads through social media. In a nutshell, consistency will help to make sure your company is identifiable no matter which network someone is using.
Mistake #15: Not Tracking and Measuring Results
As with any other form of marketing, social media marketing should be tracked and measured so you know how well it is working – or not working – for your business.
However, many companies neglect to implement this important step in the process. Due to this, they could be going about things the completely wrong way and not even know it because they’re not tracking anything.
Businesses should identify the type of content and special offers that perform best with their followers. Once you know what they are, you can do more of it. And, on the flip side, you can get rid of any practices that are not generating results or causing your audience to “un-follow” your company’s social media profiles.
Optimizing all of your social media activities for the best results is critical for ongoing improvement. But before you optimize, you must first know how well your audience reacts to your current activities and techniques.
There are many analytics tools available on the various social media networks that can help you accomplish these goals.