Ah, social media. The one marketing tactic we all know we have to use, but really have no idea how to use it. Sure, for personal use, we snap a picture, post our adventures, and share some of the most personal aspects of our lives, but from a business perspective, what platform should you use? Are you using it in a way that just takes up your time or actually benefits you and/or your business?
Most business owners have a page or a group (what’s the difference?) and write a post every so often. Under some circumstances, that could be enough, but are you seeing a return from these posts? What exactly does a return on social media look like?
If you’re hoping the answer is direct sales, you won’t hear that from me. Social media is not, nor will ever be, a direct sales resource. It should only be a portion of your promotional plan. Just like any marketing tactic, expecting social media to be your only source of promotion and receive a return from it is your first mistake. It helps share your message, build awareness, and directly connect with your market, but you won’t see anything happening from posts alone. Receiving engagement from the people that follow you is already a step in the right direction, but its not the be-all-end-all of your marketing strategy.
Myth 1: My posts are enough.
What are you writing about? Why are you writing it? What are you posting and what do those messages look like? I’ve seen so many businesses post things only about themselves or their store and NOTHING about anything else in their industry. I get it, you’re promoting your business and don’t think you need to talk about anything else, right? If you’re constantly revolving around you, you, you, it gets boring and so far from engaging, you may lose people. I’ve seen businesses post every post in ALL CAPS WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING THEY ARE SHOUTING ABOUT. People, all caps is no bueno and still considered shouting, please don’t do it.
A great rule of thumb is to engage with your followers. Like their posts, comment on their photos, and, most importantly, be genuine with what you say and leave your business out of it. On your own page, talk about your business, but sprinkle in general posts about life or your customers, specifically. Take yourself out of the situation for a moment and find something your followers can relate to. Whether its funny, inspirational, delicious, or something else, keep it somewhat close to your message and to what your audience is interested in. For more, see myth 4.
Myth 2: I have to use all social media profiles to be successful.
Not all social media profiles are created equal. Some require constant engagement, some have only a specific set of followers, others have a broader reach that may work for you and what you need. But you do not have to be on all versions of social media, especially as a small business. The most engaging, successful social resources are Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (not in any particular order). Each has their own level of engagement and market you can connect with.
Pinterest is the most interesting resource as it is really considered more of a search engine than social media. Images and photos posted there offer answers and solutions for the viewing community and focuses less on the engagement aspect than Facebook or Instagram. The key with Pinterest is to always drive traffic back to a website or central hub for customers to engage in that manner. If you are selling a product or service, this is especially helpful.
Facebook and Instagram each have a unique means of engaging with your followers. Instagram focuses more on visual imagery while Facebook offers a full bodied experience, whether you want to make a quick statement or tell a story. Both have multiple opportunities for engagement and benefit most from a well drafted strategy and posting plan. Promoted posts and paid advertising is also an important part of your social strategy. When done correctly, the response can be very effective.
Myth 3: If my follower number is high, I’m doing well
Just don’t look at the follower numbers. The amount of people is not anywhere near as important as what all of those people are doing to engage with you. Most of the top social media brands provide business accounts with insights, displaying information about the number of views, engagements, interactions, shares, and comments have been made. These are the numbers you should focus on and understand what your followers like so you can give them more. Its better to have 100 followers constantly engaging with you than 10K followers that could care less about what you’re saying. Whatever you do, NEVER pay for followers. These people are not your market and you’ll never see the return you’re hoping for.
Myth 4: People care about what I had for breakfast or that I’m getting a coffee.
There is a limit when you get too personal on social media, for business. On your personal page, do whatever you feel comfortable doing, but when you’re doing business posts, keep your coffee drinking talk to minimum. Depending on your brand and your market, what you eat for breakfast might be relevant, but for most small businesses, it isn’t. That goes for your face too. Constantly seeing your face, from a low angle, and very close up, just isn’t appealing. I don’t care if you’re the sexiest man/woman alive, its just not. Remember, this isn’t about you, its about your audience. Show your face every so often, show your new products once in a while, talk about your workspace, at random, and create posts that the people want and engage with them.
Creating a plan in advance helps tremendously to make the process easier. Schedule your posts and content and mix in some random as-they-happen posts along the way. Scheduling tools help keep you in front of your customers and off your phone while making it happen. However you choose to make it work, creating a plan is crucial to social media success.
Myth 5: I’ll just hire a young person to manage my accounts for me.
This one kills me. Never, ever think that just because the individual is young, they know how to promote your business. I know where you’re going with the idea. Since they are young, they know how to use social media. While this may be true, what they don’t know is how to successfully understand and engage your market with appropriate posts. I’d be willing to bet that most of the time, a young person would have no idea what to post for you. And do you really want to post cat videos and selfies that have nothing to do with your brand? I think not. Unless that young person has an interest and/or education in appropriate marketing tactics, do yourself a favor and go back to myth 4 and create a plan to help you, the expert in your field, post the right content and engage with your community.
Social media has quite a few more tricks of the trade. While this might make things sound easy, it is, but there is a right and wrong way for a small business to do social media. And if you just want to stick to Facebook, that’s ok too. But make sure you’re following a plan and seeing a return of your efforts.