Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Youtube…. And the list goes on and on. Small business owners are faced with more expansive and diverse online marketing options than ever before. It used to be that a small business would put an advertisement in the local Yellow Pages and that would be it. If they were a slightly larger company, they may try television or radio spots. Nowadays, small business owners are having a much harder decision on where to dedicate their time and resources. One of their most difficult decisions is whether or not to engage with social media and how many resources to dedicate to it. While some small business use social media very effectively, far more do not. While the mistakes being made span a wide range of activities, there are a few that are much more common than others. These are a few of the best ways for a small business to steer clear of the most common social media mistakes.
- Develop a strategy. While social media is free, it does cost businesses time and resources, and to avoid wasting them, businesses should develop a social media strategy. This strategy should include goals, a schedule, and a step-by-step outline of how you plan to get there. This strategy should also include the amount of resources allocated to the project. Establishing a set amount of resources will allow businesses to develop a more accurate schedule and outline. Another important step in developing an effective strategy is deciding exactly what message you want to convey to your followers. Some businesses focus on excellent customer service, while other focus on highly innovative products. Crafting a specific message will help to keep your efforts focused and on track.
- Hard Sell. Many small businesses try to use social media as a sales platform, which is really a mistake. Social media is a forum for building trust and relationships. Experts agree that a business should only post promotional or sales relating things 5 -10% of the time, cites a recent article by mashable.com.
- Be original. Everyone and everything has social media these days, and in order for a business to set itself apart, it needs to be original. Only post engaging, interesting content on your social media platforms. It only takes one bad post to lose followers. Simply posting, “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends” will surely be ignored by a business’s followers. Instead they should post this same text with a youtube video from a Christmas movie like “Home Alone” or “Elf.” This video clip will create significantly more engagement, and will further benefit the business by customers associating the positive feelings from the movie clip with the business.
- Don’t overextend. Not all social media platforms are for all businesses. For example, a large industrial logistics company may not need pinterest page. Their business is primarily with other corporations, and their time might be better served on a professional networking site such as Linkedin. There are literally hundreds of social media sites out there, and a small business needs to choose which ones are right for them. The most effective social media platforms are going to be the ones your customers use the most. Business’s can research their competition to see where they’re doing social media, and analyze whether or not the benefits are there. Choosing the right social media sites may be the most important aspect of a small business’s social media efforts.
- Engage. Social media’s greatest asset is its ability to connect businesses to their customers. Businesses should respond to almost everyone who posts on their wall or tweets to them (within reason). Businesses should ask their customers questions, and openly answer any questions customers may have. They should share valuable content that others in their industry may have posted, and engage with customers in the comment section. Businesses should also take polls and run contests. This engagement will build loyal followers, and will eventually translate into increased sales.
These are just a few of the ways a small business can avoid some of the most common social media mistakes. While social media can be a valuable tool, using it incorrectly will only waste a business’s time and resources. How does your business use social media? We welcome your comments.
Yellow Pages United is an independent online national directory publisher. Yellow Pages United is not affiliated with any other Yellow Pages company that might be mentioned in this article and is not affiliated with AT&T or your local directory publisher.