Are You Making These Social Media Mistakes?
Social Media, it’s everywhere and everyone seems to be talking about it. For small businesses, social media can give you the opportunity to raise your profile, increase sales, monitor the competition, understand what your customers’ needs are and give you a competitive edge. You can also get great results with a limited budget and your time so, for these reasons, no business can afford to ignore social media.
But many small businesses who attempt to use social media can quickly become overwhelmed and disengaged with it. The reality is effective social media is hard work. It takes time, research and consistency to be successful and this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s also important to remember that social media should be integrated with other marketing activities such as email and networking.
So, what if you’re a small business that has tried to tackle social media but it’s been, well, a bit overwhelming? Or you’re a business that doesn’t have a social media presence but wants to start? Read on for some basic top tips which are relevant to most platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
First Impressions Count Unfortunately, we live in an age when first impressions count more than ever, so it’s essential to make a great first impression.
Header/Profile photos – make sure they’re eye-catching, informative and not fuzzy. People like buying from people, so if you can use a picture of yourself. Most of the main platforms now have a banner photo (this is the large photo area at the top of your profile) Use this space to advertise any new products, services or offers you have. Update the banner image in line with the seasons but remember to keep it up to date; we don’t want reindeers and snowflakes in August.
Facebook now offers you the choice of uploading a video – have a look at mine here.
Your Bio - different platforms offer you the chance to promote yourself with some choice words or phrases. This is your chance to show who you are and what your business is about, so think carefully. On Twitter and Instagram, you can use a couple of # but don’t overdo it (make sure you follow me for a future blog on #Hashtags). Think about adding a location and something interesting or funny about you. Try and make your bio standout, memorable and human.
Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin
We don’t have endless time to spend on social media and you are not expected to be on every platform. I tell my clients it’s better to be on one social media platform, doing it well and consistently than on 3 or 4 and spreading yourself too thin. Most important of all is that you have an effective presence on the platforms that your customers frequent.
Before deciding which platforms to invest your time in, you need to do some research to find out which social networks attract your target customer. Spend some time looking at each platform and identifying the key influencers, as well as potential clients. Look at how they are interacting and what type of content they are posting. This will vary from platform to platform, and can show you the best methods to market your business according to your chosen platform.
Take down inactive accounts if you have no intention of using them.
Too Much Automation
There are a ton of scheduling tools out there such as Buffer and Hootsuite and you can even schedule from within Facebook. Scheduling is a great way of getting your message out there at regular times throughout the day. A word of warning though - whilst scheduling is very convenient it shouldn’t happen in place of engagement. You still need to reply to any comments and answer questions, otherwise you’re just spamming. Social media is about being SOOOCIALLLLL after all so a balance of scheduling and active engagement is essential.
There are loads of great ways to reach out. On Twitter, search for Twitter hours, both local and within your niche. We have “Devonhour” every Wednesday 8-9pm and this is a great way to introduce yourself, your business and build connections locally. On Facebook, there are numerous Groups which will give you the opportunity to connect.
Not Posting at The Right Time
It’s important to post at the right time and to do this you refer back to your customer research and your analytics. It’s no use posting at 3.30pm if your core customer base is mums. Many of these will be doing the school run so won’t even see your posts until much later if at all.
Don't Be Boring
Posting boring content and content that is 90% about your business is also a massive NO. Mix your content up by posting a variety of infographics, curated content, tips, testimonials and promotional content. You need to think about how you can inform, entertain and educate your audience.
The Rule of Thirds is a great way to think about it.
Ok so this isn’t a really bad thing but it doesn’t look great, and if you are going to use hashtags then make sure you do it right. My next blog is all about the hashtag.
Not Analysing Your Social Media Efforts
You really do need to be analysing what you’re doing. This doesn’t have to be as time consuming or as boring as it sounds. Facebook and Twitter both have their own analytics which are easy to use. Keep an eye on what posts are performing well as this will give you an indication of the content your followers like. There are also lots of paid-for apps that can provide you with regular stats if that’s your thing.
Not Promoting Yourself on Social Media
If you don’t tell people that you are on social media they won’t know to look for you. Below is a list of great ways to boost your followers and create awareness. However, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for people to follow you on social media, read your latest blog or sign up to any promotions.
Add social media buttons to the header and footer of your website pages and on the contact page to direct visitors to your social media accounts.
Email signature – Update this frequently, as this is also a great way to promote your latest blog and add your social media links
Emails – add social media links and ask people to connect with you
Business cards should include your social media accounts.
Provide links within your blog back to your social media.
Remember - Think carefully before you post and don’t engage with negative conversations online – take it offline and resolve it.
We’ve already established that you need to engage, interact and be human. Building relationships with potential customers takes time and part of that process is posting and engaging consistently.
Take social media a step at a time, be patient and create a strategy first.
Finally remember you don’t have to jump in straight away, spend some time listening to what’s going on around you until you feel more confident to join in. Social Media Listening is a great way of monitoring what’s going on with your competitors and the market.
If you need help with your social media I provide bespoke social media training that can give you confidence and get your business online.