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Social media is a growing and often confusing necessity in the small business marketing plan. Over the past 10 years it has become an amazing free tool for brands to get their messages out and convert prospects, build loyalty, and increase their customer support. In fact, 90% of companies use social media as a major part of their marketing and many of those post daily content to leverage their position in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, about half of those companies are undermining their goals and turning off prospects with a few bad practices. There’s a lot more to successful social media use than most people expect. Making a mistake in business social media exposure can be catastrophic and cause you to lose customers, money, and even reputation. After all social media cuts both ways. You can create an awesome post for your blacktop company with a cute seal on it to play on sealing your driveway and get some horrible comments about your support for the clubbing of baby seals. Now this is nonsense but if it takes root because you’re not monitoring your followings responses you could end up a poster child for local PETA targeting.
So how do you navigate this murky water and still stay playful, engaging, and well, social? And still get your message across? Here are 5 main pitfalls to avoid that will help you make more money online and grow your business.
1. Not Being Consistent
If you do nothing else while marketing on social media, be consistent. You need to create a schedule for posting and stick to it.
Here’s a great example. You want to advertise your online retail business to your target audience. While there’s nothing wrong with utilizing paid advertising through social media, maybe you don’t want to spend that much money.
That’s where Instagram and Pinterest come in. Instagram is a great social media platform that allows you to share pictures of your products, create videos, go live, and share links to your site content – for free. And Pinterest is a great way to get “lookers” to collect your product images or posts and display to the world for you!
A very important point here is if you don’t love a platform and won’t use a platform (for example many people just do not like Twitter!) then don’t try to have a presence on that platform. Don’t post once in a great while then drop off. It’s much worse to be a bad poster on a platform than not have a presence at all.
A good social media content schedule might look something like this: Of course, this is just an example.
One post in the morning every day (try out between 8am and 10am)
One post late in the day (somewhere between 4pm -6pm at night)
One live stream a week that shows off new inventory or something you think interests customers
Two to three videos a week showing off a product, even if it is in .gif format
2. Not Having a Campaign
Creating a campaign simply means taking your schedule and adding the meat of what you will be posting. It should come as no surprise that consistency goes hand in hand with the brand’s Campaign.
When thinking about your Campaign, you’ll want to consider many factors. Here are a few:
What formatting will you use?
What tone do you want to use (Friendly, formal, etc.)?
Who’s in charge of content? How will produce it (original or shared, etc)?
What’s the goal of posting on each platform?
What content goes best on each platform?
You see where I’m going with this. Find the solutions before you create the problems. After all, once you have a solid handle on what your content should be and accomplish, you can post that content to social media with ease.
Answer as many questions as possible and it will take the guesswork out of getting a engaging and successful posts out there. Answering these questions will also help be more in tune with what your customers are wanting. Keeping your content engaging and interesting by appealing to the lifestyle your brand aligns with instead of a litany of ads is important too. Spoiler alert: It’s SOCIAL media!
3. Not Interacting with Followers
Not interacting with your followers not only makes your brand look bad, a lot of social media platforms reward creator engagement. In fact, many popular platforms include user and creator engagement as one of the main pieces of their algorithm.
Here’s a shortlist of platforms that value interaction from both creators and users:
When interacting with people who comment on your content, you’re showing that you care. Not only that, but you’re also putting a voice to your brand. Giving your brand a voice is a good thing. It helps you establish a solid presence, boost leads, and of course, secure more sales. Plus never forget it’s called social media because you’re meant to be social.
4. Not Using the Same Voice
As we mentioned above, your business has a voice. This voice comes through in the content you provide to others, as well as when you reply to people. Not having a consistent voice is one of the most common social media mistakes any business can make.
If your brand is professional, then a professional voice might be the best option for you. If you’re running something small like an Etsy, eBay, Shopify, or Amazon store, consider a friendly yet informative tone for your brand. Having a voice that doesn’t match your brand is one of the worst social media mistakes, but it can get worse. If you have multiple people create, post, and reply on your website and social media accounts it can cause your business’ voice to get lost in translation. Prevent that by defining your brand’s voice before getting started with content creation.
Doing this reminds your content creation team of the voice you’d like them to use. This sticks with your team while creating graphics, writing metadata, and even replying on your content that’s posted on social media. And it makes your business seem more approachable and personable.
5. Not Using Hashtags
Hashtags are still just as vital as they’ve always been. In the early days of hashtags, they started becoming somewhat of a meme to some people. People didn’t take them as seriously as they should. And that was a huge mistake.
On the other hand, those who took hashtags seriously saw considerable growth and reach in their content. Using hashtags in your social media marketing is still a great way to reach new people on almost all platforms. It’s a great tool to use in every post you can. Almost all social media platforms use hashtags. To help you with your hashtag game, here are a few tools to check out:
Hashtagify – top Twitter hashtags
Trendsmap – trending topics & hashtags on Twitter
Another approach to this is to use Google Trends to find out how prevalent specific topics are in an overall scope. Google Trends tracks searches on the Google search engine. This is one of the most powerful tools for social media marketing and content creation in general. Google Trends is also a 100% free tool to use!
Google Trends: 100% Free Tool
Finally, when posting on social media, you should always keep this list in mind and use it to make your content as visual and engaging as possible:
- Video & Live Stream
- Video with text & no audio (music in the background)
- Words with a video
- Words with a picture
It’s all about reaching people and keeping their attention.
What does that best? Video.
Why? It has visuals and sound.
That said, sometimes video isn’t an option. In addition, it’s good to diversify your content on social media. In that case, consider incorporating audio bites from a podcast. Or maybe text with a picture is the way to go. Some platforms like Instagram allow for live stream, video (IGTV), and pictures with text.
Just remember the key is to think about the topic you want to make a post for. Next, think about what format could get that message across the best.
And don’t force anything. If something works best as a video, then don’t make it a picture with text and vice versa. Nothing drives people away from your social media content like having to sit through a 10-minute video that could have been a picture with text…or a one minute video.