Common missteps small businesses make on social media (part 3)
July 5, 2018
RENO, Nev. — At last, we're here. Our final installment of the most common mistakes small businesses make on social media.
You didn't think there'd be so many, did you?
But social media is the type of low-barrier tool that, while it can help you reach your target audience and grow your business, it is easy to flounder and not make any progress at all.
The following are more of the most common missteps small businesses make — and how to fix them.
You're not responding to comments, messages
This can be a tough one because now, instead of one email inbox (which, I'm sure, we can all agree is always too full), we've now doubled or tripled or quadrupled (or more!) the number of places we have to monitor and be responsive with.
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According to the Wasp Barcode Technologies 2017 State of Small Business Report, 32 percent of small businesses use social media to "solicit or respond to customers' feedback."
More businesses should be doing this. Online users (aka your customers or potential customers) have an expectation that you respond to them on social media. When you don't, it looks bad.
Sprout Social reports that users expect a response within four hours. Businesses, on the other hand, take an average of 10 hours to respond. This is a disconnect.
When someone reaches out to you on social media, you are obligated to respond quickly and thoughtfully, especially when it comes to public comments that everyone can see (and can see when you don't respond).
When you don't, you appear to be above engaging with users and only interested in selling to them.
Even if a complaining comment is something you'd rather not discuss in public, you should still reply to the commenter and invite them to contact you directly.
Of course, you can set clear expectations about response times in your bio or about section. If that's between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, let users know.
Violating a platform's 'rules of the road'
To be fair, every platform's terms of service can change fairly frequently, but the ramifications for not following them can have consequences. Even just not understanding a platforms "rules of the road" among the community itself can be an issue.
Facebook is typically where the most offenses happen. Some common violations include how you run a contest and tagging others in an image or post without their permission.
Did the latter surprise you?
While tagging others on social media is a popular best practice, tagging other accounts on irrelevant content simply to get their attention can be considered abusive and can be reported as such, which opens your Facebook page (or other social account) up to review.
To avoid appearing like a bad member of the Facebook community specifically, stay up to date on the network's policies and just remember the Golden Rule: Treat others (and their accounts) how you would like to be treated — always.
You're expecting fast results
Social media really does take some time to see results. There is no one-and-done social campaign out there. Everything requires consistency and an investment of time and effort.
That being said, you should always have the key metrics tied to your goals in mind. If your primary goal on social media is brand awareness, for example, reach and engagement action numbers should be what you track over time.
That way, you can know when things are building and when momentum is being lost so that you can pivot your strategy responsibly if needed.
Think of your social media account as a snowball that's growing as it slowly rolls downhill. Emphasis on slowly. We all want to see big results in a week or a month. But really, you should be thinking of at least three months at minimum. Six months or a year is even better, realistically.
You have all your eggs in the social media basket
Don't get me wrong. I'll be the first to tell you that social media is an essential part of any successful online marketing strategy, but it shouldn't be your entire online strategy.
Of course, social media marketing specifically has the greatest appeal to small businesses because there's really no barrier to entry. Accounts are free, and your investment is time.
But, depending on your goals, there is so much more out there to include in your overall strategy. Email marketing is one option. Audience targeting is another. And that's only two. There are many more.
To be truly smart about your marketing, you should test more than one online method to reach your targeted audience, so budget accordingly.
Caren Roblin is Director of Content at Sierra Nevada Media Group, which publishes the Northern Nevada Business View. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.