In recent years, social media has established itself as one of the most successful and most-used elements of a marketing strategy. In the US, 96% of small and medium businesses say that they use social media in their marketing strategy.

But all too often, small businesses make rookie errors with their social media marketing. These are extremely detrimental to your businesses health, and can actually have a negative impact on your following and sales.

We’ve analyzed the most frequent social media marketing mistakes that small business make, and even chucked in some advice on how to avoid them.

Read on to find out more…

Not Having a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Like with any area of your business, you need to have a plan.

Lots of companies make the fatal error of thinking that as long as they have a social media presence (i.e. posting vague content every so often, wishing their followers a “Happy Hump Day!”), then they’re “doing” social media marketing.

WRONG.

All of your social posting will be for nothing if you don’t have a concrete plan. You need to come up with a social media marketing strategy. Think about:

  • Your goals — what you are trying to accomplish
  • Your plan of action — how you are going to achieve them
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) — how you will measure your success
  • Your budget — how much time and resources you are going to spend on this

If you make a plan based on these points, you’re a lot more like to be successful with your social strategy.

Trying to be Active on Every Social Media Channel

Too many small business decide that they need social media marketing in their lives, so they sign up to every platform available. I’m here to tell you — this will not work.

You simply will not have time to post on every social media platform.

You need to post regularly on social to maintain your presence. So if you’re trying to be present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit (and so on and so on…), you’re spreading yourself way too thin.

Inevitably something has to give, and next thing you know, you haven’t tweeted since April 2017. This gives the impression that something is wrong to your potential customers. They could even wonder if you’re still open or have gone out of business.

Stick to three main social media platforms. Focus your time and energy on doing these well, and you’ll see way better ROI.

You can even use a social media marketing tool like Loomly or Hootsuite; they can help you to schedule your posts across your channels, and track your social media performance from one dashboard.

Not Picking the Right Social Media Platforms

This leads us on to our next point: picking these three social media platforms carefully.

Lots of small business owners will follow the crowd, or see what their friends are doing, or hear of a recent small business success story and try to copy that. This is not the best way of picking which platforms to spend your time and money on, and this will lead to poor engagement and failure to reach your target audience.

Part of any business strategy should be identifying your target audience.

Think about your demographic (age, gender, income, location etc.) and find out where they spend most of their time online. There are plenty of social media demographic stats on the web to help you out — you just need to decide where your customers fit in, and therefore which social platforms to use.

Writing Terrible Content

This may seem like an obvious one to you, but you’d be surprised how many small business end up posting terrible, terrible content.

Your social media content needs to have the correct tone of voicewhat is your brand voice and personality? Your posts on social media must be aligned with this. If you’ve got employees, make sure they’re briefed on this before they do any posting. (You also need to watch out for grammar, typos and poor spelling — none of which make your company look good!)

Your content must also be valuable to your audience — how are you improving their life with your post? Are you making them laugh, or teaching them something new?

READ: Craft Great Email Signatures for Your Business

Be fun and creative. As a small business, you need to get noticed — particularly if your business isn’t conventionally exciting. If you sell carpets or own an electronics store, you need to inject some excitement into your social media. Hold competitions and giveaways. Or make yourself stand out with engaging content and eye-catching images or infographics (you can use free design tools like Canva to help you with this).

And lastly, don’t post irrelevant content. If you’re a hospitality recruitment agency, stop posting silly photos of dogs wearing sunglasses. Start writing powerful content that chefs will find valuable and relevant, like “How to write the perfect Head Chef CV”. (This is a genuine example.)

Making it all “Me, Me, Me”

One huge error that small business often make with social media marketing is failing to engage.

Frequently, small business end up making their social posts all about self-promotion and they end up too salesy. You can easily end up with followers deserting you if you go too hard on the sales pitches.

This shouldn’t be the main aim of your social media marketing: the main aim is to create brand awareness online.

Social media gives you a platform to get your company’s name out there, create connections by building up followers, and eventually turn leads into sales by nurturing your customer relationships.

Engage with your consumers actively, rather than passively. You need to be interactive — get your followers involved with your posts by asking them questions and initiating conversations. You should also post content that your readers will find valuable — helpful guides, interesting news, things to make their lives easier.

Use your social platform to forge relationships.

Not Having a Localized Strategy

Since small businesses don’t have the influence or budget to compete on a wider level with big brands, they need to focus on the battle they can win: the battle for regional dominance.

Simply doing generalized marketing isn’t going to get the results you’re looking for, since the terms you’ll target in your copy will be fought over by countless other brands, so you need to be specific and different. Get as niche as you can, because that’s where opportunity lies.

Let’s take Utah for an example (seems appropriate in the context of this site!). If you wanted to launch a store in this state, you’d want to focus on Utah-specific keywords in your social media marketing, and do your best to use relevant regional slang terms and phrases.

Something specific that businesses can mess up is that they think about keywords for their website content but not for their social media activity. This is a problem for two reasons:

  • Firstly, social media posts can be, and are, indexed and used in search results. That makes their content as viable for keywords as that of your website. Since anything you say on Twitter or Facebook might at some point appear in a results page, you should scatter in some primary keywords (and relevant hashtags) while maintaining a natural tone.
  • Secondly, anyone following a social media link needs continuity from one stage to the next. Look at a hyper-optimized page such as the top business listings in Utah (see the even spread of primary and secondary keywords), then imagine how you’d link to it. Would you say “Take a look at some businesses”? That would be very vague, and anyone who clicked would be confused at why they landed on a Utah-specific page.

In short, don’t treat local keywords as occasional playthings fit only for page titles and headings. Make them the core of your social media outreach, not only for SEO but to demonstrate to a local audience that you’re focused as a business.

Conclusion

Social media marketing should definitely be a part of your overall marketing plan. It’s a great way of establishing your business, engaging with customers, and nurturing relationships — IF you do it right. So make sure you follow our advice and avoid the above mistakes, and your social media marketing will be a success!

Patrick Foster is an ecommerce expert and writer from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that offers practical marketing advice so your online store receives the exposure it deserves. Check out the latest posts and tips on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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