For better or worse, social media has taken hold of the American consumer’s psyche and it shows no signs of abating. That means that, for better or worse, social media is an important factor in running a small business. Whether you’re promoting goods or services online, engaging with customers or directly selling through social media, it’s important to have a plan.
It’s also important to remember that social media has a lot of applications that can help or hinder a small business. Whether you’re actively buying advertising on Facebook, hosting live events on Twitter or Facebook, or selling products directly to customers on Pinterest, it can negatively impact your business if you inadvertently make social media mistakes. Here are some of the top social media no-nos that you can consciously avoid.
1. Trying to engage with social media without the content to back it up.
The biggest and easiest mistake that small businesses make is setting up a website or social media profile and then . . . nothing. The sad truth is that running a small business is hard and often social media can fall, just like other marketing efforts, behind other priorities. Failing to regularly post content, respond to inquiries, or comment on events or news in your industry sends a message to customers that you don’t care, and just maybe you’re not even in business anymore.
A better practice is to take the time to learn what makes each individual social media platform successful before trying to establish a presence. Simultaneously, this gives you and your team the opportunity to brainstorm how your small business might successfully engage with customers or clients via the social network.
As a Sunscape dealer, you have access to already-branded social media posts via our Social Media Posts to Share section under the Marketing menu. Take advantage of them to maintain your social media presence and to engage with your followers.
2. Not having a posting strategy.
One of the biggest mistakes that any small business can make is twofold. First, posting inconsistently doesn’t give your customers or potential customers a way to engage with you. Secondly, posting irregularly is very inefficient and likely a waste of your time. A simple solution to inconsistency is to use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule posts in advance while providing the flexibility to post on the fly if something comes up or you want to run a sudden promotion.
3. Posting user-generated content without the user’s permission.
Look, it’s just not cool to post someone else’s content without asking permission. If you do ask, you’re likely to gain a new follower and widen your network. It should be the first rule of the internet: play nice with others.
4. Only publishing sales and promotions.
Most businesses and even non-profits have a tendency to only post self-promotional content such as sales. Counter-intuitively, this works against them. People are bombarded day after day with advertisements, pop-up promotions, email, newsletters, and other obnoxious distractions. That much promotional material turns off potential customers. Limiting sales to about a quarter of your feed frees you up to inform, educate, and build rapport with fans. Cartoons, jokes, and funny videos are all much less aggressive ways to chat up real people, and make real impressions.
5. Credit people you quote.
Like asking permission, this is just a common courtesy. Social media is fueled by authenticity and expertise so it’s important to acknowledge the contributions and expertise of others.
These are just the basic rules, let alone trying to avoid real missteps such as posting during a time of crisis. Be mindful, stay thoughtful, make a plan, and think about making a social media policy for employees and social media can become less of a burden and more of a boon for ambitious entrepreneurs.