This article is the final in a three-part series that examines the biggest social media mistakes small businesses make. These articles are intended to share our findings gathered by speaking to members (many social media and PR experts) of various UK LinkedIn groups. To recap, part 1 and part 2 of this three-part series covered the following social media no-nos:
1. Lack of strategy
2. Being on the wrong platform
3. Thinking of Sales and Marketing as the same thing
4. Uncertainty about how to determine ROI
5. Broadcasting as opposed to engaging
6. Starting strong and then giving up
7. Thinking of social media marketing as a free tool
8. Looking for automated solutions
9. Looking for quick responses, ROI and an instant fix
10. Turning social media tools into weapons for mass annoyance
Now on to the final four!
11. Treating frequency and volume of posts as much more important than quality and relevance of posts
This could be one of the biggest reasons that your followers might choose to hide your content from their news feed. When businesses post too often on social media, they can be seen as an annoyance. On the other hand, posting too infrequently will result in followers losing interest. There needs to be a good balance of promotion to keep your prospects coming for more.
12. Getting someone else to do the work
Many small businesses tend to ask their employees or hire experts to monitor and manage social media. First up, if an expert sells you the notion that getting on the social media bandwagon would open up the floodgates and bring the ‘leads’ in, then what they are selling you is bad medicine. Instead the only real way to use social media to bring in new sales is to dedicate a staff member to spend some time online just listening to people who are complaining about their current service providers. These are leads worth pursuing.
Secondly, CEOs and MDs need to have their own social media accounts and ensure they are connected to their key customers, media and trade bodies so when a crisis happens they can directly communicate with their stakeholders rather than relying on the media to convey and interpret the company’s position.
13. Ignoring criticism
With a following comes feedback, arguments and criticism, whether you welcome it or not. Listening to your audience across social media is important. And so is responding to comments or feedback. Positive feedback should be acknowledged, and negative feedback should be acted upon in a timely manner. It is important for small businesses to address all feedback and not just the ones that make them feel good. Immediacy is key. Turn complaints into research opportunities, make conversations and use it all to drive improvements. Lastly, have procedures in place to deal with bad press if something happens.
14. Banning employees from using social media at work
Among the many social media mistakes that businesses make, the one least talked about is where employees are banned from using it at work. Rather you should educate and get your employees to become brand ambassadors – social media provides a way to leverage everyone in the business. So instead of a few marketing and customer service personnel being allowed to talk to customers and potential customers you can actually leverage everyone. For instance, in a company of 100 people you could have all 100 actively ‘marketing’ the business instead of 2 or 3 marketing/PR/service people. However, your business might become vulnerable to mistakes, so it is imperative that you lay the ground rules and draft a proper social media policy. When that is combined with a solid strategy and training for staff you can really start to unlock the power of social.
As I noted at the beginning of part 1, this article was built upon the suggestions collected from people across various LinkedIn small business groups (UK). In addition to the people mentioned below, I have also used insight gathered from the Bradleys marketing team.