Social media— thousands of blogs, podcasts, webinars, conferences, apps, consultancies, free agents (and the list literally goes on) exist to tell you how to be a social media super star in your space. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these ideas, best practices and guides serve an important purpose. They are a great tool of reference to inspire new ideas, thoughts and collaboration around the newest and latest in social media to keep you current. But there is no secret sauce. PERIOD. There is no do this and it will lead you to thousands of followers, it comes down to YOU! The time, effort and energy that goes into building your brand and making it attractive to potential customer and fans.
Here are 5 common social media mistakes we find many small-to-mid size businesses make:
Social media management for a business is a FULL-TIME job. I repeat, a FULL-TIME job. Which is why Social Media Manager is a real job that people get paid well to do. Am I saying you need to post everyday? No, not necessarily. What I am saying is that you need the time to think up content, create that content and share it with your followers in some sort of consistent schedule, whether it’s daily, bi-weekly, or monthly. The more you share, the more people will care, especially if it’s the RIGHT content. Don’t post just to post. Post with purpose. If you have a generally inactive account, take a look at how you can make this manageable, and take baby steps. Maybe start with one tweet per week, or one Instagram post per week. But start somewhere and with content that matters to your audience. Can’t commit the time? Find someone who can, and who understands your brand and audience.
Don’t be lame. Talk to your audience. Like and engage with their social media posts, don’t just broadcast content and expect people to think it’s awesome because chances are they won’t right off the bat. Find ways to add value to their conversations, give them an emoji thumbs up for goodness sake. Let them know you are there and can be reached if needed. Increase engagement, and watch the engagement and followership on your accounts flourish.
As a business owner, you may or may not consider yourself “social media savvy”. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Seriously, the best social media strategies weren’t even really strategies, just a person who took a risk, did something, got a good reaction and then made it into a strategy. SERIOUSLY. You don’t need a degree in social media management. You need an imagination, and understanding of your customer, and a willingness to step outside of your box and JUST BE YOU. In today’s interconnected, app’d-out world, real is rare. So be real, take a chance and soon people will be asking you how you attained all that social media success.
My next point to this is the MASSIVE advantage you have as a business owner. Who knows your audience better than you? NO ONE! Not I, not Steve, Sarah, or Frank. YOU do. You know why your customers come to you; what sort of experience they expect when they interact with your brand, and you know their pain points. So own that. Own that all the way to social media maven-status because you have the advantage to talk to them in their own language and really build a relationship with them.
Not committing to a brand voice and vision across social media is a bit dicey. Sure, leave room to be fluid, but when you drill down to those really popular social media accounts that seem to effortlessly create culture and fandom around their brand, it’s because their social media account is an extension of their brand—not something they should do. Yah, sure, some of them might be able to afford professional photo and videography blah, blah, blah. But mainly, they are finding ways to build on their culture and values—the reasons why people fall in love with their products or ideas and translate that identity to their audience via social media. Here are a few great examples of brand identity being translated across social media:
Moral of this story – be creative, and find ways to achieve the same type of identity goals as these brands, but within your own means.
Being overly salesy and promotional is not a fast track to making friends and definitely not making fans. In the example accounts above IF there is a promotional splice, it’s balanced out by all the amazing content that’s not so salesy surrounding it. And it’s typically a soft sell, like a delicious image of overnight oats with the caption “Start with delicious and keep creating.” If you provide content that your audience wants to see, they will naturally come to you for the sale because you get them, and they get you. They won’t even feel like they’re being sold to, instead they’ll be like, “gosh, I am hungry. Let’s get yogurt!”
Trust me, I know the #StruggleIsReal. I understand that businesses and entrepreneurs don’t always have the time dedicate to their social media to properly grow it. So, I have some quick and dirty tips:
- Add several apps to your phone to help deliver content on a somewhat consistent basis: Hubspot, Buffer, Font studio, Tweet deck, the list goes on – just Google it and start building a stack of tools to help you deliver content.
- Hire a social media manager – they should understand your brand and audience and devote their time to creating, executing and engaging.
- Can’t afford to hire a social media manager. Get an intern or volunteer – someone who is passionate about what you do, or looking for a great opportunity to add to their resume.
- Hire an agency – this is not hands-off social media zone for businesses and entrepreneurs, you will need to participate even more so to ensure your content and messages represent your company. Make sure expectations are set on how quickly they can respond to last minute social media requests.
I think there are a lot of great ideas out there in the space of social media, and people who can help you create a great experience for your customers. But if you are a small to medium-size business with a marketing budget that’s already stretched, I encourage you, really learn to hone your own skills in this space because there is no secret sauce, just great ideas and the willingness to try.