By now, most small business owners know they need to be active on social media. Regardless of your industry or niche, your customers expect to find you there. And social media’s free, so… it’s all easy, right?
I wish it were that easy. In fact, I notice that a lot of small business social media pages are missing the mark. They’re not getting the engagement – or the leads – they want and they’re not sure why.
Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple, you’re making mistakes and they’re probably the same ones that other small businesses are making.
What should you do? Identify the mistakes and stop making them! Here they the most common social media missteps and what you can do to fix them.
Being Inconsistent with Your Account
When people follow brands on social media, they want to know what kind of content they’ll be getting. If you look at big brands, you’ll notice that they have a clear rubric they use to determine what they post. For example, the beauty company Dove focuses on empowering content that celebrates women of every age and body type.
You’ll also need to think about your content format. With Instagram, it’s easy – all content there is visual. However, you could still think about creating consistency by participating in community hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday, or by posting a new video every Monday.
On Facebook, you have a lot of leeway when it comes to content format. You can share graphics, photographs, videos, and written content. A good way to create consistency is by pointing similar content on the same day every week: videos on Monday, infographics on Tuesday, blog posts on Wednesday, and so on.
Consistency also applies to your posting frequency. I recommend creating a social media schedule and setting up your content ahead of time. That way, you can be sure your content will go out even if you’re having a busy day or stuck in a meeting.
Ignoring Your Audience
When was the last time you responded to a comment from a social media follower? If it’s been a while or you only respond when there’s a problem, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
People like to be noticed – and when they follow a brand on social media, they like knowing that the company reads what they write and cares about it.
Get in the habit of engaging with your audience by replying to their comments and direct messages and by sharing their content when it’s appropriate to do so. It’s a good way to build brand loyalty. And keep in mind that when you respond to a customer complaint, you greatly increase the likelihood that they’ll share their positive experience with their followers.
Not Using Social Media Tools
Every social media site has tools you can use to engage with your audience. Facebook Insights is a perfect example. It’s where you can find detailed metrics to help you determine:
- The best time of day to post
- What times of content get the most engagement
- Who your followers are
- Where your followers are located
Another prime example is post scheduling, which you can do with Facebook’s Creator Studio for both Facebook and Instagram. If it’s been a while since you looked at your social media tools, this is a good time to take an inventory and use what you’ve got.
Using the Wrong Social Media Sites for Your Audience
Very few small businesses have the time or budget to maintain an active presence on every social media site. And guess what? In most cases, you don’t need to. What you should be doing is doing research to determine which sites your audience uses.
Someone who’s targeting an older audience might focus on Facebook. A company targeting Generation Z should think seriously about Tik Tok. Sites such as Statista can help you to dig into the numbers.
Once you know where to find your audience, you should drop any social media profiles that don’t make sense and focus on the ones that do.
Not Following the Site Rules
This first mistake is one that happens all the time. Each social media site has rules for content. The easiest example is Twitter’s limit of 280 characters. That’s a simple one to follow because you can’t Tweet more than that number of characters. But that said, people still make mistakes.
The rules for social media can be carved in stone or they may fall into the category of standard practices. An example of the former would be using a personal Facebook page to do business. Facebook can shut down any personal account it feels is violating its terms. You need to use a business account if you’re going to be active on Facebook.
For an example of standard practices, let’s look at Instagram. The only place on Instagram that you can put a live link to your site is in your profile. You can’t put those links in an image caption. It would be great if you could, but your posts should be optimized for Instagram as it is, not as you wish it would be.
A link typed into your caption isn’t a link your followers can click. Unless it’s a short, easy-to-type link, it shouldn’t be there. There are other standard practices related to how many hashtags you use. Following the rules will ensure that your content is appealing to your followers.
Leaving Social Media Out of Your Marketing Budget
Finally, if you’ve been thinking of social media as a free marketing tool while resenting the huge following of other companies, then it’s time to get real about what it takes to market on social media.
It’s been years since Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize content from individuals over businesses. Those changes apply to the organic feed, which is where posts from your followers’ friends and family appear.
By investing a little money in promoting your posts and running ads, you can be sure that your most important content will reach your followers and people like them. You don’t need to spend a fortune – and you can start small.
I suggest investing $50 or $100 in promoting one or two posts or running a page promotion. It may take some trial and error to fine-tune your targeting. You should keep an eye on your spending per Like or per click.
Social media marketing takes work. It’s not a “set it and forget it” proposition. By avoiding the errors here and taking corrective action, you’ll be able to take your social media pages from zeros to heroes in no time.