Social media is now fairly well established and offers the small business an affordable marketing opportunity which can really help to cement a brand and raise its online presence. However, with such a new platform invariably mistakes are made whilst people try out something they’ve never done before.
With this in mind, let’s have a look at the top mistakes made by businesses building their social media profiles.
#1: Not Having a Strategy in Place
I’m a great believer in planning. In fact if you read my blogs often enough you’ve probably heard me quote the old ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ before more than once. In my defence, the saying is completely true for all aspects of business – you need to plan out your strategies in advance.
When it comes to social then, it’s a good idea to have the following:
- A tone of voice document for your social media staff
- Consistent branding across all social, including images and colour
- A policy for dealing with complaints on social
- A strategy for the best times to post, what to post, growing your fan base and engaging with followers
A tone of voice document is something that if you blog, should have been created anyway. However, if you don’t have one then you should create one by looking at your buyer personas to decide who your audience is and how you should be targeting them.
Branding must be consistent in order to ensure that your brand becomes visible on every platform that you use. This means the use of logos and colour, as well as tone of voice should be kept the same no matter what site you’re on.
When it comes to complaints on social media, that’s a whole post on its own. So many SMEs and even huge brands get it wrong but it’s actually very easy. Make sure that you reply to complaints quickly and do it publically; don’t delete genuine complaints or others will think that you have something to hide. This in turn will affect your reputation and may lose you sales. If someone is being abusive, then politely warn them that their behaviour won’t be tolerated and then don’t respond to more abuse. Of course there are trolls, but it’s usually reasonably easy to spot them and delete/block them and other users will recognise them for what they are too.
#2: Posting Inappropriate Material
Be careful what you share and do check out where the original post has appeared from. For example, in the UK recently there’s been a lot of posts from a Facebook page that belongs to a far right political party. This particular pages uses social engineering techniques to encourage shares (sharing ‘shocking but sad’ post, images of animals and so on) and many people share them without realising it comes from this page. However, those that do realise where these shares originate have either been offended that their contacts/follows have been sharing the material, or they have gone on to try to educate.
The point is, you should always check the original poster as there is a huge amount of scam-type pages too that often utilise the same tactics. These can be anything as simple as like farms or they can lead to survey scams that seek to gather personal details or even lead to a malware infected site.
If you as a business share these kinds of things, then your followers are not going to be happy. Likewise, if there’s an offer that seems too good to be true, then it almost definitely is, and if you’re not sure on those, or on anything that you suspect could be a hoax, then at least Google it before you share.
Leave politics and religion for your personal life, don’t get your business involved in any online debates which can very quickly turn nasty.
#3: Abandoning Profiles/Pages
It takes time and effort to build a social media following and even more to get fans and followers engaging, Lots of businesses open up their social media accounts, get all excited for about a month, decide it’s not working and then just give up.
This is obviously counterproductive. Not only do you have a social presence that’s not effective, but if potential customers do contact you through your profiles and don’t get a reply then they will assume that you’re just not very good. It can take a good 18 months to get your social presence up to a standard where it’s working and customers are engaging, so stick with it.
#4: Using Too Much Automation
Automation products are extremely handy when it comes to social media scheduling, but some businesses overuse it to the point where it’s little more than spam. Software such as Hootsuite can be used to schedule your posts, but it can’t take the place of personal replies.
I quite often get asked if it’s an automatic message when I go and thank followers for retweets and so on as I do post a lot. My reply is of course no; I use Hootsuite to schedule my blog posts but when it comes to thanking people, I do that myself. Lots of businesses use software (especially on Twitter) which sends a direct message to people that thanks them for a follow – personally, I’m not a fan of direct messages on Twitter. Another thing that people use is software such as JustUnfollow, which is a valid product but do remove the part of the automated message that reads something like ‘this was generated by justunfollow’!
And don’t get me started on the Twitter verification software that requires new followers to go off and verify that they’re real before being allowed access to a business’ tweets… suffice to say it’s a terrible idea.
#5: Don’t Engage, or Do So Badly
Many businesses just fail to engage with their audience at all. They post and expect it all to come to them. Or even worse, they are often rude to followers and behave like it’s a personal social media account.
In order to be effective, you must engage with your followers, ensuring that you’re friendly, polite and not overly promotional. After all, the clue’s in the name, it’s social media, so do interact with people and don’t make it all about you. Take an interest in your top followers, thank them for what they do and read their content too, where appropriate.
Getting back to promotional posts, these should be kept to a minimum. Nobody wants your products shoved down their throat 24/7 and if you continue to do this then you will lost followers rapidly.
There’s no secret to social media, but many businesses fail to get to grips with it properly. However, it’s really down to common sense and a little in the way of hard work to get yourself a decent following.
When starting out, do just sign up for the larger networks and concentrate on getting them up to scratch before getting onto the lesser known ones and spreading yourself too thin. Make sure you have clear strategies and policies before you start; get all of your artwork and tone of voice in place and you’ll be flying before you know it.