social media mistakesGiven the popularity of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for B2B and B2C engagement, I often wonder just how brands coped when it came to marketing their business back in the day, before social media and other online channels existed.

As we all know, social media + business = a marketing match made in heaven. Social has certainly proved its worth over the years, shifting from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for all types of business.

Smaller businesses were a little slower on the uptake of social media. Yet, the past few years have seen adoption rates soar, as networking sites cement themselves as essential components of the marketing mix.

Social media oozes potential, but you need to get it right. Plenty of big brands have made blunders that have cost them their reputation. But, when you’re a smaller business, every single customer is extremely valuable to you, and you literally can’t afford to make the same mistakes.

To save you the bother of researching the rights and wrongs, below are some of the most common social slip-ups made by SMEs, with advice on how to avoid them:

Spamming

Spam on social media includes everything from bulk messaging and malicious links to fraudulent reviews and clickbait. And get this: around 15 million spam messages are sent on social media every single day.

Even if you’ve taken the time to craft a strong social presence and build a loyal following, just one spam message can make those users lose interest, trust and respect for your business. And it’s extremely difficult to shake off the title ‘social spammer.’ So, when sharing content, make sure it’s relevant to your target audience and if it’s third-party content, from a reliable source. You should only be posting three or four times a day on each site at the most – any more than that and your followers will start losing interest.

Spreading yourself too thin

The more channels = the greater the exposure, right? Wrong! Don’t be fooled into thinking you stand more chance of social success if you sign-up to loads of networks. It’s far more effective to identify just a few social networks that best suit your business, and then channel all your time and effort into crafting a strong social presence on those select few.

When picking your platforms, you should include at least one of the big players: Facebook (which has over one billion users); Twitter (over 304 million monthly active users); or if you’re a B2B, LinkedIn (300 million monthly active users).

Prioritising quantity over quality

So, you’ve pinpointed your perfect platforms. Now, the next step is to get yourself as many followers as possible, yes? Wrong again! By focusing all your efforts on growing your followers, you’ll find it impossible to start meaningful conversations with the people who really matter – we call them your ‘active users.’

Active users are people who have a genuine interest in your brand, and who are most likely to engage with – and share – your content. They will become advocates of your brand, so long as you allocate time to interact and engage with them on a regular basis.

Posting only about the business

We’ve all got that friend who, whenever you see them, talks endlessly about themselves and never asks how you’re doing. It’s annoying, not to mention boring…

The same can be said for social media. If you talk about your business and nothing else, people will start to grow bored. The whole idea of social media is to be social, i.e., to engage in meaningful conversations with your followers.

So, along with the odd company update, think of other engaging content you know your target audience will find interesting. For instance, a link to an industry-related article with added commentary, or a funny cat video to cheer your followers up on a Monday morning.

Sharing the same post across all networks

Sharing the same post across all networks will save you time, but it’ll cost you followers. Remember: users might be following you on multiple channels, so mix things up! If you want to share the same piece of content, think about how you can introduce differently on each social site.

Take the time to learn what works well on each individual network. Visual content –including images, video and infographics – drive the most engagement on Facebook, for example. And if you plan on using Twitter, then you need to master things like hashtags and handles!

Doing everything manually

Managing social accounts manually will take up loads of your time and as an SME owner, every second of your time is precious! You don’t want to spend half your week finding content to share; there are tonnes of online tools out there – use them!

Hootsuite, for example, allows you to manage all of your social networks in one place. You can schedule messages (which means no weekend posting) and measure the ROI of your social marketing campaigns.

Have you made any social faux pas in the past? If so, how did you rectify them?

Ben Hollom

September 17, 2015