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Are You Making These Common Small Business Social Media Mistakes

Have you ever wondered why your social media strategies are not working? Social media can be one of your business’s biggest assets. If you utilize social media correctly it can be one of your most effective marketing and branding tools. However, if utilized incorrectly, social media can land your business in some serious trouble and have you wind up losing followers right and left. A great social media strategy requires a delicate balance between great content, eye-catching imagery, engaging posts, proper timing and distribution, and two-way engagement with your followers as well as other brands.

A recent study by SCORE, the largest network of expert free business mentors helping over 11 million business owners to date, found that 77% of businesses in the U.S. actively use social media as a key business functionality. 41% of businesses stating that they now depend on social media to drive active business revenue streams. When it comes to social media, it’s well worth the effort to take the time and careful planning to do it right. The return on investment (ROI) for these free to modestly-priced tools is phenomenal. If you are ramping up your business’s social media strategy and/or looking to generate more leads and brand awareness from social media, below are some of the most common mistakes made on branded social media platforms.

Top Five Ways Social Media Actively Helps Your Business

  1. Deliver Above-and-Beyond Customer Service. 50% of people in the U.S. believe that social media amplifies customer service and makes it easier to resolve issues using these more casual platforms.
  2. Boost Brand Awareness. 44% of local business owners believe social media has the power to increase awareness for their brand.
  3. Actively Generate Sales or Subscriptions. 41% of businesses are actively dependent on their branded social media platforms to gain revenue and increase existing revenue streams.
  4. Social Media Builds Relationship and Brand Loyalty. Businesses that use social media channels to have open dialogue and real, non-salesy interactions with customers establish exceptional brand loyalty and create brand advocates for their products or services.
  5. Drive Immediate Website Traffic. Social media has become one of the top referral sources for a growing number of businesses that are doing branded social media correctly.

Avoid These 7 Common Social Media Mistakes Made by Small Businesses

1. Over-Posting or Not Posting Enough

Contrary to the belief held by some companies and promoted by some people claiming to be social media gurus, there is no magic number that will tell you exactly how many times a day or a week to post. However, there is a decent amount of proven research results on the ideal posting frequency across various verticals that can at least provide you with an overarching idea so you aren’t massively over-posting or sparsely posting.

Hubspot put together a social media analysis of posting frequency broken down by different industries such as real estate, healthcare, financial services, nonprofit, software/tech, and more.

2. Being Overly Promotional or Sales-Focused Regarding Products or Services

Many brands and businesses make this mistake because of a thinking gap between themselves and the people they are looking to reach on social media. For employees of a business, their business’s success on social media and beyond is their main focus when considering what they are posting on their company’s social media. For everyone else on the other end of the screen, their personal needs and interests are their main focus, your brand just may happen to overlap with those needs and interests.

When you put promoting your company’s products, services or offerings first by being too sale-centric, you risk turning the customer away from being interested in your company altogether. Find a way to share your business’s offerings by showcasing how they will benefit your target audience and make their life better somehow. For example, if your company is a clothing retailer that happens to wish to promote its line of women’s luxury sweaters as winter approaches, post a stunning picture of a couple adorably embracing as the snow falls with content about cozying up this winter. Take a customer-centric approach to your social media strategy.

3. Not Building a Target Audience Persona or Sharing Content that Doesn’t Appeal to Your Target Audience

The foundation of any successful social media strategy for a business is to first understand exactly who your target audience is, what they are looking for, and what specifically will attract their attention. Businesses also need to understand the characteristics and demographics of their target audience.

For example, if your brand’s target audience is millennials and Gen Z, a focus on image-centric content with casual, minimal text will garner more clicks than high-text posts with no imagery that will likely get scrolled past immediately. On the other hand, if your company shares content focused toward reaching an audience 65-years and up, you would be wasting time making platforms like Instagram and Pinterest your main focus or to use the type of jargon and informality that would resonate with, say, college-age followers.

This also applies to the need to tailor the number of times you share content each day to each social media platform.

4. Believing Daily Posting is enough to See Social Media Success

Many companies assign a team member to post to each of their brand’s selected social media platforms once a day and then get frustrated because their follower base isn’t growing and they aren’t seeing any likes, shares, comments, or other types of engagement. This is a common mistake that companies make: they look at their brand with blinders on.

For you and your team, your company and its products or services are extremely important in your day-to-day life. However, for the other 99.9% of people browsing around on various social media accounts, your brand’s posts may not mean very much. This is essential to remember, and it is the core reason why you can’t simply throw a daily post up and expect to have a lively, thriving community of social media followers.

If you want to see success and return on investment to your social media efforts, nurturing your follower base and joining active conversations is imperative to see real success. There’s nothing worse you can do than pre-post a month or even a week’s worth of content and then leaving it to auto-post and then almost immediately go stale.

5. Not Tailoring Content for Individual Social Platforms as you Share

This is a very common mistake made by both B2C businesses and B2B businesses, but it is also a very simple one to fix. The content you post on Twitter shouldn’t be identical to what your company posts to LinkedIn. People can tell that this content isn’t genuine and will be less likely to respond. Twitter content should be adapted to appeal to the informal mindset people have when they are on Twitter, and content should utilize hashtags specific to your brand or trending topics. LinkedIn content should be more formal and focus on things that people in the career-focused mindset during the time they browse LinkedIn will respond well too.

Also, don’t forget how important tagging or mentioning other companies or influencers in your content, and that tagging their handles or brand names will likely vary from platform to platform.

6. Grammar or Spelling Errors

Proofread, proofread, and proofread again. No matter how stellar fabulous social media content and imagery is, nothing can bring your brand’s credibility down like a grammar faux pas or spelling error. There is little that can make a well-educated consumer cringe like the following:

  • Misuse of “it’s” and “its”
  • Misuse of “too” and “to”
  • Error in subject and verb agreement
  • Sentence fragments
  • Run-on sentences
  • Forgetting a comma after an introductory word or phrase
  • Overuse of unneeded commas
  • Using the wrong word when two words are similar, for example, “excepted” vs. “accepted”

This often happens when you delegate your social media to your intern. Simply because your intern is likely a young college graduate that grew up in the age of social media and is fluent in social jargon, does not mean that they have a handle on how to manage social media channels from a business or brand’s perspective without proper supervision. Interns can be a highly valuable asset and, as mentioned above, the younger generations are often more fluent in social media “dos” and “don’ts.” However, they must be fully trained in the ins and outs of your brand voice, products, services, and grammar should be fully checked before posting until you and your marketing leaders are comfortable with their literary competency.

7. Posting Without an Established Social Media Strategy or Method of Measuring ROI

Finally, one of the biggest mistakes small businesses make on social media is starting to share content with no clear strategy or plan to measure the return on investment (ROI). The common mistake starts like this: a brand knows that social media is “hot” and that they need to be active on it, yet they have no real plan. This leads them to post in a sporadic and scattered manner that not only doesn’t lead to social media success, but it can hurt their brand perception.

A business must establish clear goals for their social media plan as well as determine how they will measure success and return on the investment of their time, effort and any social ad budget that is invested into their strategy.

Below are 6 common goals for a small business’s social media that will guide their strategy and are measurable through analytics.

  1. Drive website traffic
  2. Grow product sales, subscription signups or app downloads from social media referrals
  3. Grow measurable social engagement benchmarks such as new followers, likes, comments, shares, reposts, etc.
  4. Generate new signups ongoing touchpoints like email or newsletter subscriptions
  5. Gain new leads
  6. Increase brand mentions (requires social listening tool)