If you’re like most people, you know social media can play an important role in the success of a local business.
After all, roughly 69% of U.S. adults are on Facebook alone, according to Pew Research Center. And that doesn’t include the number of adults active on Instagram, YouTube and other platforms.
But even with this knowledge, small businesses frequently stumble through their social media posts and fail to meet their goals.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re ready to turn your social media presence into an effective marketing tool, here are 7 of the biggest mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Avoid not having a strategy for each platform.
And increasing sales cannot be the strategy for your platforms.
The point of social media is to engage with people, so you’ll need to look outwardly at your customer base to create a relevant strategy.
Start by thinking about who you’re talking to, what platform you’re on and what value you could add to a customer’s life with your content.
It may also be helpful to read studies like the 2018 Sprout Social Index, which has loads of helpful information about what customers are looking for from brands on social, including that 59% of people want educational content.
The type of content marketers post on #social is not in line with what consumers want to see. Our latest 2018 Index dives into this and more. via: @MProfsWire https://t.co/nd2VH636VJ pic.twitter.com/OWllUePtto
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) July 16, 2018
As you begin to consider what content best serves your customer, it’s also important to think about what problem your product or service addresses.
For example, an exterminator may think about his service from the solution perspective: He removes unwanted pests. But the customer’s problem is that his home has been infested by these pests, and the customer’s desire is for a clean, sanitary and beautiful home.
After thinking through these questions, it’s easier to create a strategy statement for your business. Here’s a simple one for the exterminator based on this process.
Our mission through the content we share on Facebook is to help homeowners feel confident in the safety, cleanliness and beauty of their homes. We will do this by educating them about common pest issues, offering solutions for smaller pest problems, providing behind-the-scenes information about the extermination process, and sharing aspirational content about the interior and exterior of homes.
All content for the exterminator’s Facebook would then be evaluated through this strategy. This would create a cohesive and intentional presence on the platform, while also streamlining the content creation process by pinpointing the right types of content to share.
2. Don’t be on every social media platform
If you’re a small business, you shouldn’t be on every single platform.
Your resources are limited. To make the best of them, you should focus on doing fewer platforms extremely well rather than stretching your presence across numerous platforms poorly.
It can seem difficult to decide what platforms are right for your business. But all you need to do is figure out where your target audience is spending its time.
A demographic breakdown like this one from Sprout Social can easily help answer that question.
And it might also be helpful to look at what platforms your competitors are on, as well as what types of content you plan to share.
An artist marketing an Etsy shop would fit well on Instagram because of the visual nature of his or her craft. However, a local newspaper may fit better on Twitter, which many people use to discuss and consume news.
Above all, remember to commit only to the social media platforms that you have the time and energy to maintain.
As Andrew and Pete share in their video, this likely will mean focusing on one thing (or platform) you can do remarkably well.
3. Avoid inconsistent or nonexistent updates.
A rarely-updated or infrequently monitored account can send a worse message than not having an account at all, especially since 90% of people have used social at some point to communicate directly with a brand.
But this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours online to make social media successful.
Plan 10 minutes at the start of each day to find or create content. There are tons of budget-friendly resources that can help you create beautiful images and videos – check out this list from HootSuite here. You can also check out Feedly to curate articles across the Internet that may be relevant to your followers.
Posting consistently is important because it communicates to customers that you’re active, engaged and available if they need you.
On the other hand, a Twitter account with the last tweet from 2014 provides outdated information while also communicating customers have to go elsewhere to talk with you.
4. Don’t broadcast to your followers. Engage with them.
Broadcasting is not the purpose of social media. It was created to engage with communities.
So treat social media like any other relationship in your life: Communication goes both ways.
Online, customers are often more likely to ask questions and share feedback. Simple steps such as responding to questions, liking a customer’s comment or replying, “thanks for the feedback,” go a long way toward making your customers feel valued.
And if you go the extra step of proactively engaging with industry leaders or customers, your business will likely gain even more brand awareness and engagement.
That’s because you’ll put your business’s name out there every time you comment on posts from other local businesses, engage with people using location tagging or location hashtags, or start a real conversation with an influencer after viewing an Instagram Story.
Responding to negative feedback is also an important part of engaging with customers. And it can speak volumes. According to “The Conversation Index” from Bazaarvoice, a helpful response to a negative review can actually increase purchase intent.
So put down the megaphone and invest time in conversations, not broadcasts.
5. Avoid unprofessional and off-brand imagery.
Your customers deserve more than low-quality photos or memes. And nowadays, there’s no excuse for sharing poor imagery given the advent of software like Canva, as well as the plethora of information about how to take stunning photos.
However, any imagery you create should use brand colors, fonts and style to create a cohesive brand for customers.
For example, take a look at the Facebook and Twitter posts below. The copy and imagery are different, but both showcase the Starbucks logo, as well as light and calming colors. This provides a similar experience for customers regardless of what channel they follow Starbucks on.
If you’re running low on imagery ideas, ask your customers for help. Reach out to fans who have left positive feedback, or ask customers to use a branded hashtag on Instagram or Twitter after using your product or service.
After all, a report from Nielsen estimated that 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional content. User-generated content has a lot of power. Just remember to always ask permission from the customer before sharing any UGC.
6. Don’t ignore your analytics.
Analytics are one of your business’s greatest tools to better understand customers.
Even a quick look each day can reveal the best times to post to achieve higher reach, or how your customers respond to different content. It can also show when followers are more likely to comment, share or react to your posts.
Each social media platform has built-in insights that can reveal this information. Plus, once you’ve enabled Google analytics on your website, you can tag any website links from social media to see how people are engaging with your website after clicking through to it.
Often this data can help take your social media to the next level by improving your content and overall performance on social media.
7. Not using paid social.
Utilizing paid social advertising is non-negotiable due to the ever-changing algorithms on social media platforms.
But this is last on the list for good reason.
While paid social provides a boost in brand awareness and conversions, it can’t make up for the other six mistakes often made on social media.
Social advertising works best when a business has cultivated a healthy presence with unpaid posts on social media. That’s because avoiding each of the mistakes listed above helps businesses to better understand customers and create a deeper relationship. And with this knowledge, the addition of paid social ads can then complement the business’s performance on the platform rather than supplement it.
It’s when businesses have already invested in the platform that paid social ads yield the most effective and efficient results.
Be intentional with social
It’s easy to stumble through social media marketing as a business. In the long run, though, that can lead to your business losing credibility and opportunities with customers.
If you’re guilty of these 7 mistakes or blunders, don’t lose heart. It’s never too late to make changes in how your business handles social media.
After all, you know social media has an important role to play in the success of your business. Now it’s time to dig in and get started.
Not sure how to begin? Click here to email Social Media Manager Bethany or fill out a form for our digital marketing team today.