Social media has become a key weapon in the arsenal of small businesses – but many are not using it properly.
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be powerful tools with which to engage with current or potential customers, but you need to be sure that your social media presence reflects the great parts of your company, rather than letting it down. We’ve compiled some common social media mistakes for small businesses to avoid.
Consistency is absolutely vital across all marketing channels, but all too frequently social media communications stray off brand. You should put as much effort into ensuring your social channels tally with your brand as you would a TV advert or a PPC campaign. You need to make sure that your messaging is consistent across every channel, and this includes social. However, social media presents unique challenges on this front, as that messaging will often have to be devised ‘on the fly’, in response to user interactions. It is therefore important that your social channels are managed by someone with excellent knowledge of your brand, and whom you trust.
It is vital to remember that social media is a two-way street – indeed, the ability to interact with current and potential customers, rather than to simply broadcast to them, is one of the technology’s major advantages. However, many businesses try to ignore the interactive element, and instead use it in the same way as any other one-way communication channel. It is key that you remember to engage on social media. Users will expect to be able to interact with you, and it is important that you are there to respond. You should remember that some of these interactions are likely to be complaints, and that complaints need to be dealt with in a particularly timely manner. Read more about effectively dealing with complaints.
Increasingly, social platforms provide valuable opportunities to introduce new visual elements to your communications. This can be a great way to boost engagement – but crucially, failing to take advantage of these features can leave your feeds looking cold and untended. At the very least, you should make sure that you have your logos properly formatted and included as the profile images for each of your pages. You should also make sure that you are using features like Facebook’s cover images where available. On the subject of Facebook, you should also make sure that you use images in your posts, as these types of content generate significantly higher engagement.
Your choice of social networks is also a crucial element of your overall strategy. A poor choice can render your social media activities useless, as the right people won’t be seeing your messages. You need to target your activities at the relevant platforms. Where do your current and potential customers ‘live’ online? By identifying these platforms you can make sure that you invest your efforts in messages that the right people might actually see. Sometimes this choice will be dictated by your industry; for example, restaurants should be using Google Places and Google+ in order to maximise their visibility.
Finally, you should remember that effective social media management requires an investment. You need to set aside enough time to properly formulate a strategy, to sign up for accounts and, crucially, to maintain them. Regularity is key on social platforms. You will only maintain an engaged audience if you are posting useful content on a regular basis. Clearly, this requires you to ensure that you are dedicating enough time to the project.
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