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6 Biggest Social Media Mistakes a Small Business Can Make

Harnessing social media has tremendous potential benefits for any business, large or small. However, succeeding in this marketing channel is much more complicated than just creating your company profile and occasionally adding a post. Businesses make simple mistakes because they don't devote enough resources to their social media marketing or understand how this new medium works to their benefit. To make the most of your online presence, avoid these six common social media missteps.

Not Having a Cohesive Strategy

While the benefits of social media are often intangible, such as promoting your brand and connecting with customers, your approach should be structured and thoughtful with an eye toward measurement. All content should be targeted to one of your specific audiences and aligned with the broader goals of your business rather than just being a random selection of posts. Without a clear strategy underpinning your content decisions, your social media efforts become a media outlet that doesn't offer you any real value. Develop a plan for each online platform that ties back into the sales goals of your business. Your results should be measurable, such as referral traffic visiting your website, downloads of your content, and signups to your newsletter. Having a strong sense of these metrics allow you to understand what content is working well, and what should be tweaked and improved.

Only Being Listed in One Place

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing exclusively on one well-established site, often Facebook, and consider this sufficient for their online presence. A successful social media strategy has to be "multichannel," which means being active on more than one platform still looking to find where your customers spend time online.

Different social media sites tend to attract different audiences. If you're only on Facebook and Twitter, you're missing out on the opportunity to reach the highly engaged local communities on other popular platforms. While you certainly don't have to be on every site, your strategy should include at least three that fit your brand, product and customer profiles. If your product or service has a visual component, Pinterest and YouTube are both sites with the potential for spreading your message in a more visual fashion. Nextdoor is excellent for local businesses trying to connect with their community offering specific details about client demographics. Consider your audience to choose the platforms where your message makes the maximum impact.

Not Interacting with Followers

Being active on a platform gives you the chance to connect with current or potential customers in almost real-time. One of the most effective uses of this opportunity is for direct, customer-service interactions. By monitoring mentions of your company and responding to both positive and negative issues before they become more serious. A helpful reply is reassuring and professional, and this is something that customers are increasingly expecting. Hopefully, you can turn things around with that particular customer that had a bad experience. More importantly, you're able to improve your brand's image with a targeted audience. In general, your social media approach has to emphasize the "social" aspect by reacting and engaging when appropriate as a contributor to the community.

Not Posting Content

If your business is only posting once a month, you won't be able to gain traction regardless of the quality your content. Your business has to develop a persistent presence to alert and train your audience in a meaningful way. What counts as "persistent" varies depending on the platform, and your posting frequency which might be higher for Twitter than for YouTube based on the time commitment associated with the preparation of the material. Find the rhythm that works for you, by creating a content calendar for each platform that rolls into the company calendar that ensures you have frequent, relevant posts.

Planning this process allows you to take social media as seriously as it deserves, and you will notice a boost in engagement with the proper prospect while creating an increase level of trust with your current clients.

Producing Boring Content

If you want to maintain your audience's attention, aim for your social media voice to show the more fun and informative, and engaging side of your business. You can provide valuable information, such as a your perspective on a change in regulations, holiday sale or the introduction of a new product or service. Depending on the platform, you can get your message across using photos, infographics, and videos, text and sound. You can also create a "how-to" video for your product, polling your audience, post a relevant quote, or organize a contest. Boring content does not produce the results you need to distribute extend the reach of your message. Instead, it needs to be relevant, memorable, and shareable.

Being Overly Salesy

One common social media snag is being too promotional with your content. Although promoting your business is the ultimate goal of your strategy; you have to approach social media content with a softer tone than traditional direct marketing. Share something that brings value to your followers, connections and friends. Your business can be considered as a contributor that fit right in without feeling like a commercial break, or your connections quickly lose interest. Keep track of the social trends and terms your audience post, and look for an opportunity to join the conversation as a contributor. Another strategy is to share positive news or other curated content that is generally related to your industry. The outcome of your social media strategy should be enhanced trust and engagement with your community, prospect and customers. All of this is possible by employing a more personal approach beyond the typical advert.

By developing a thoughtful approach to your use of social media, you can ensure that your efforts support the overall goals of your business. Your online presence should be engaging, helpful, and provide consistent value to your customers, prospects and partners.

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