Social media can be great for small businesses. After all, it doesn’t cost any money to set up accounts on the various platforms, and the returns can be huge. Because of this, many small businesses jump onto social media, making many mistakes that are simple to avoid. Here are 5 common mistakes that small businesses make.
1. Spread Themselves Too Thin
A business owner recently mentioned to me that they had finished signing up to all the social media sites. My first reaction was “Why?”
There is no point joining a whole heap of social networks if only half will work well for your business. Different platforms suit different brands, and as a small business owner you are probably better off focusing on a few platforms well.
In order to decide which social media networks you should target first, find where your clients are. You could ask existing customers what platforms they use. You can also see where your competitors are.
Remember, you can always add more platforms later.
- Choose 1-3 social media platforms and focus on doing them well.
2. Not Having a Goal
Have a reason for being on the platforms you choose. Make a quantifiable reason, not because all the cool kids are doing it.
Here are some common goals for small businesses on social media:
- Build brand awareness
- Increase sales
- Keep communities updated
- Enhance customer support
- Collect & analyse feedback
- Create advocates
While they all sound like compelling reasons, focus on one or two at a time.
Next, make your goals measurable so that you will be able to know if you have reached them.
A good way to define goals is by making them SMART goals. That is –
For example – Increase sales(S) by 5%(M) in 3 months(T, A) with a Facebook campaign(R).
With an end in mind, you can now plan the steps to reach your goal, such as creating a timeline of posts to entice your customer. You could include some facebook-only sales codes to track your sales.
- Create your SMART goals and a plan to reach your goal
3. Sell Sell Sell
If you only use social media to sell stuff, your customers will quickly unfollow you. Social media should be about your audience, not about you. They need a compelling reason to follow you. Be engaging, offer something useful to them, and don’t forget the social aspect of social media.
There is no harm in promoting a sale or new product, but make it tactful, and don’t make it the only thing you do.
- Restructure a social media strategy plan to focus on the customer and not the hard sell.
This can be a side effect of the first mistake – spreading your presence too thin – or because of poor planning.
Social media is work. It is not something that you can just set up and leave alone. Your audience will expect regular updates and a quick response to communications.
It is easy in the excitement of something new to have a flurry of updates at the start, then slowly get neglected as time passes.
If you are going to use social media, commit to it, have a plan, and make it part of your daily work routine.
- Create a plan that you can commit to.
5. Focusing on Vanity Metrics
Many small businesses stress such an importance on vanity metrics; that their campaigns focus on getting more facebook likes and twitter followers.
These kinds of metrics make you feel good, and an upwards trend usually means you are doing something right, but they don’t offer a clear message of what you need to do next.
What you should be focusing on is Actionable Metrics. Focus on metrics that help you get stuff done and lead to better business outcomes, such as engagement per customer, completion of tasks, conversion rate, or cost of acquiring a customer.
This way you know what you are doing is positively benefiting the business, and not just a waste of time. After all, maybe you had a 200% increase in thumbs up, but no increase in sales. Has the effort of getting those thumbs up been worth it for your business? It is not possible to know if all you have been tracking are the thumbs.
Vanity metrics are fun to watch, and can be motivating, but make sure that you track the metrics that count – actionable ones.
Measure what is important
- Define what metrics are important for your company to know, and track them.
With a little bit of knowledge and forward thinking, these social media mistakes are easy to avoid. Plus, your business will have a solid social media strategy that will benefit your customers and your business.
What is the biggest social media mistake you see yourself or others making?
Answer in the comments below! Share your social media blunders or things you see other companies doing wrong so we can learn from their mistakes.