Originally published on Linkedin.com on July 7, 2017 By Anuja Lath
You’ve probably landed up here because you realize that social media marketing is not as easy as it sounded at first. As if it’s not hard enough to run your own business, social media marketing is a full-time job in itself! But, don’t freak out just yet, I’m here to tell you the most common mistakes small business owners make when starting out with social media marketing, how to avoid them, and what to do instead. Grab a pen and start taking notes, because this is going to be one long lesson, but totally worth it.
Here are 15 social media marketing mistakes and how to avoid them:
Spreading Yourself too Thin
More often than not, when small business owners decide to start with social media marketing, they set up accounts on every social media marketing platform they can find. This leaves them with lots of accounts and not enough content to post on them. As a result, some accounts are left inactive and that can really harm your brand.
Instead, make a list of social media channels that your target audience is most active on, and then pick the top two or three channels to concentrate the majority of your effort on. The most active platforms are Facebook and Instagram, followed by Twitter. Posting consistently on fewer platforms is more effective that sporadically posting on many platforms.
Diving in Without a Plan
A Social media marketing strategy is of the utmost importance when it comes to digital marketing. Just like you wouldn’t go looking for an investor without a business plan, you can’t go looking for online success without a marketing strategy. You need to plan anywhere between few months to a year ahead. Have a rough idea of what you want to achieve in terms of goals and targets over the year, then plan on a monthly basis, revisit your strategy frequently to see what’s working and what’s not. Without a strategy, most businesses end up posting inconsistently and sporadically, at the wrong time and with the wrong hashtags, all this can be corrected if you’re prepared ahead of time.
Failing to Understand Whom you Need to Talk to
It’s essential that you know who your target audience is and understand the kind of content they prefer consuming. You can’t go around shouting whatever you want to whomever, hoping that someone will bite the bait. With the hoard of information, you can find online now, users are pretty clear on what kind of content they want to spend time on and what they don’t even want to look at. You need to make an effort to identify too, what you think works may not necessarily do so. If you’ve been in business for a long time and are just moving online, you probably have a good idea of what your target audience is, but if you’re just starting out, don’t worry, experiment till you find the sweet spot and make sure you do enough research on your audience and product positioning.
Not Engaging Enough
It takes two to have a conversation. Make sure you are taking out the time to engage with your audience. Hit that reply button as quickly as possible and respond to what your audience has to say. They need to feel like there is someone who is listening for this relationship to work. No, that doesn’t apply to just women, it applies to everyone. Consumers are more likely to be loyal to your brand if you make the effort to engage with them, show the same amount of interest in them that you expect them to show in you.
Going in for Every Trend
Once in a while, a trending hashtag fits your brand positioning and you piggyback on it to benefit your social standing. Only once in a while. Don’t start using every trending hashtag no matter if it fits or not, that’s doing more harm than good. It’s like you’d say to your fat uncle “just because you’re wearing skinny jeans doesn’t mean you look skinny.” For example, this tweet by “homebase” completely backfired when they used the trending hashtag #ripprince at the end of it. Your audience will not hesitate to call you out for making a mistake like this, so you really need to be extra careful when using trending hashtags.
Overdosing on Hashtags
Hashtag spam is a real thing and if you #are #using #too #many #of #them then you’re doing just that. Using a lot of hashtags might bring random users to your posts but it makes your posts difficult to read for your actual target audience, resulting in them unfollowing you. As a general practice, stick to 1-2 hashtags on Facebook and Twitter and anywhere around 5-11 on Instagram, don’t use any on LinkedIn, since it doesn’t recognize hashtags. It’s a good idea to research the best performing hashtags related to your business and test them out to see which ones work best for you and bring you relevant traffic.
Only Talking About Me, Myself and I
The only reason social media users follow anything is because of interesting content. If you keep talking about yourself and your brand and not provide your audience with relevant content that they find interesting or adds value to their life, they’ll hit the unfollow button faster than you think. Focus on the social bit of social media and talk about something other than yourself. Think about ways that you can provide value to your audience rather than focusing on the media bit and just talking about yourself hoping your audience will take an action just because of being exposed to your posts.
Buying Fake Likes and Followers
This might seem like a good idea to some; who wouldn’t want a jumpstart on their social media marketing? Wrong. Buying fake followers can really harm your brand in the long run because the algorithms of these social media platforms will detect your content as irrelevant due to the resulting low level of engagement. So if you have thousands of followers but only a handful of actual followers that are genuinely interested in your content, you won’t be able to reach their news feeds. There is no shortcut to building a large fan following, you have to put in the hard work to create and curate content that your fans would enjoy seeing.
Not Coming Across as Authentic
One of the mistakes that even social media marketing companies end up making on behalf of a client is trying to act like big brands. As a small business entrepreneur, one of your major strengths is that you are dealing with the customer day in and day out. You know what the pain points are and you have stories to tell. Don’t lose out on that by trying to sound like big brands which come across as faceless and not humane. Take advantage of the fact that you have genuine stories to tell, behind the scene action that makes you authentic. If you’ve outsourced your social media marketing to an agency, make sure you tell them about the little details of running your business and share content related to it.
All Text and no Visuals
Gone are the days of reading long texts. It’s sad but true. Although once in a while we come across long copy which is gripping enough to make it till the end, visual content performs a lot better than plain old text, especially good quality visuals, which takes time and effort to produce. Having strong visuals in your strategy can be a huge asset, make sure you have a good balance of high-quality photos, graphics, and videos to keep your feed rich and interesting.
Too Much Automation
It’s easy to schedule posts and forget about them until the time comes to analyze the results. But the results won’t come till you add a certain amount of personal touch to your posts. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t schedule your posts, one can’t possibly carry out their social media marketing strategy unless they do, but you should put aside an hour or so every day to interact with the audience on the list of social media channels you’re promoting yourself on.
Not Tracking Results
If you don’t take a before and after photo, how do you know if your gym sessions are effective? Just like every work-out junkie takes regular pictures of themselves to track their progress, you need to track your social media efforts. Analyzing the host of complicated data, that you export from your analytics page, is an overwhelming task, but one that can’t be skipped. You need to know at regular intervals what worked and what didn’t so that you can go back to the drawing board and strategize. Cut down on the types of post that aren’t driving results and come up with new ideas that capitalize on the types of posts that do work.
Not Reviewing Your Grammar
There used to be a time in the online world, where writing in shorthand was considered cool. Well, not anymore, now it just looks unprofessional. Misspelling and grammatical errors are a huge turn off which can be easily corrected by a round of proofreading. Make sure you do it or get someone to do it or install apps that do it for you, no matter how careful you think you’re being, there’s no harm in checking twice and making sure everything is correct before you post it online.
No Brand Guide
A lot of the times small businesses don’t recognize the importance of consistent styling in their posts. You might think you’ve used a certain style too much or the same color scheme way too many times, but the important thing to realize is that that very consistency is what increases your brand recognition. Your target audience is not seeing those posts as many times as you are, and using the same fonts, colors, styles, imagery, and language is what helps your audience connect the dots and recognize your brand. A brand guide, small or vast, helps you and your team create consistent posts online that increase their effectiveness. Keep in mind that personal preference in terms of deciding these elements should be avoided, instead, look at the psychographics of your target audience and match them with the psychology of various design elements.
Trying to do it all Yourself, Underestimating the Work Involved
Handling the social media accounts of your business is not the same as handling your personal accounts. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the amount of work carrying out an effective social media marketing plan involves. It’s a full-time job and between that and running your actual business, you’ll quite literally be pulling your hair out from all the overloading amount of work. Work out a budget and ask for social media marketing proposals from a few companies. Let them know what your objectives and target audience is. Most companies will provide you with a strategy that works within your budget while aiming to achieve your objectives.
So, if you’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and start out with some social media marketing for your small business, good call! Social media is free digital space that every small business should be capitalizing on to get the word out and though you may have a great product/service to offer to your online target audience, it’s easy to make these common mistakes. RedAlkemi specializes in providing social media marketing solutions to small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t want to be left behind just because they have a small budget. Get in touch if you’ve made these mistakes before and would like to get your social media marketing started with us so that you can run your business in peace.