This original article appeared on SmallBizTrends.com, but of course I had to throw my 2-cents in too. You’ll find my additions below in red.
Small business owners are the segment of the business population that is most suited for social media success. I mean, who knows how to talk to their audience better than a small business owner? Who understands customers’ needs better than a small business owner? Who lives and breathes the same everyday struggles? No one.
But then I realize that that’s not where small business owners find themselves in trouble. The trouble spots for SMBs are much different. Often they’re in the implementation of social media.
Below are four social media mistakes common to small business owners and how you can maneuver around them. Because once you do, you’ve got this social media thing down. Addition: Policies, Features, and Rules & Regulations can change. Keep up to date with the latest changes so that you can be engaging in best practices.
1. They don’t build a unified presence.
Social media doesn’t work when it exists as its own island or when it’s fragmented from everything else you’re doing. In order to truly benefit, your marketing campaigns should work together. Creating a unified presence helps customers to trust your brand, to find the information they’re looking for, and to pick the form of engagement that makes most sense for them. If you’re using Twitter but not connecting it to anything else you’re doing, you may be causing your customers to question if that account really belongs to you or if they’re supposed to be engaging with you there. Customers want to get the same “feeling” from all your touch points. If your presence isn’t unified, you may be sending them mixed signals.
Addition: Don’t jump into all the social media outlets because that’s what you think you need to do. Start with one, and do it right. Then expand from there. Nothing is worse than letting an outlet go dormant and not posting for months.
2. They’re not connecting with customers.
One of the biggest mistake I see small business owners make with social media is that they log on to talk to people, to share what they’re doing, to gripe about something that ruined their day, but they’re not proactively connecting with potential customers. They’re not taking advantage of Twitter’s Advanced Search features that allow you to search by ZIP code, hashtag, sentiment or combination of keywords. They’re not getting more out of their Facebook status updates by targeting content to a particular area or interest group.
Addition: One way to determine what type of content to post, is to follow or modify the 70-20-10 Twitter Engagement Formula. Depending on your services and industry, this could be distributed very differently. Need help determining your need, we can help.
- Share Resources (70%) – Sharing others voices, opinions and tools
- Collaborations (20%) – Directly responding, connection, collaboration, and co-creating with like-minded tweeps
- Chit-Chat (10%) – Sharing ‘trivial’ details about working out, favorite movies, politics, life in general that connect with others are human beings.
3. They don’t use tools.
No. I am not suggesting that you automate your social media presence, but there are tools out there that you can use to make social media more manageable and to help it fit into your day.
- A tool like HootSuite can help you schedule tweets in advance so that you can share posts without being present. It will also allow you to manage multiple accounts (personal + professional) and sync your Twitter and Facebook updates so you can post at both locations with one button.
- Creating Saved Searches on Twitter can help you find quick brand or keyword mentions that you should be watching and responding to so you don’t miss any important conversations.
- Services like Tweepz or Twitter Grader are also good platforms for finding relevant users to follow and start conversations with.
Addition: Do not always post the same content on Twitter and Facebook. Customer wouldn’t have a reason to follow you on both channels if they are getting the same message. In addition, do NOT use Twitter to simply redirect back to your Facebook posts. Customers don’t appreciate the run-around.
4. They don’t empower employees.
I see a lot of small business owners experimenting with social media. However, I don’t see that many small business employees participating in social media. Your customers want to hear from them. They want to hear their stories, learn their names, and get to know their voices. If this is done correctly, your employees can become great advocates for your company and help you build awareness and trust among a larger audience. But first you have to let them. That means teaching employees how to properly engage, giving them guidelines for that interaction, and then trusting them to represent your brand properly.
Addition: Social media guidelines for your employees are imperative if you plan on allowing your employees to represent your company, or tell the digital world that they are associated with your business.