This article is the second in a three-part series that examines the biggest social media mistakes small businesses make. If you haven't read part 1 then please click here now and head on back. These articles are intended to share our findings gathered by speaking to members (many social media and PR experts) of various UK LinkedIn groups. Just to recap, article 1 of this three-part series covered the following social media no-no’s:
- Lack of strategy
- Being on the wrong platform
- Thinking of Sales and marketing as the same thing
- Uncertainty about how to determine ROI
- Broadcasting as opposed to engaging
Now on to the rest!
- Starting strong and then giving up
We’ve all seen this. You go to check out the company’s page (or even website) you’ve followed and see lots of posts and interesting things going on in their company and then ... nothing. No posts in the past three months, or six months, or a year, or two years. All of sudden the page seems mouldy and unloved. An absolute favourite is "Come & See Us on Stand No.xxx at the XXXX Tradeshow" - and the date quoted is three years ago.
The root cause of the problem here isn’t the “giving up”. What shows through is that these companies didn't really know what they were getting into in the first place. If they had a realistic goal and a realistic strategy for accomplishing that goal, then maintaining these accounts wouldn’t be a problem.
- Thinking of social media marketing as a free tool
A lot of businesses/people see social media as 'free' which, of course, it isn't. Although there is no visible monetary cost to updating Facebook statuses and posting tweets, there is a hidden opportunity cost (what else could that employee be doing which is more useful to the business) and a potential reputational cost if things go wrong.
- Looking for automated solutions
Look for it and you will find many tools that automate your social media tasks. However, this is not entirely recommended. Personal contact should be used where it’s needed. As mentioned earlier social networking is about engaging and not broadcasting.
On the other hand, I agree that you can’t do everything by yourself. If you are active on more than one network, you will need a lot of time to make posts, write comments, and engage with your followers. You should use a tool for some of those tasks but you have to ensure that your business doesn’t lose the personal touch.
- Looking for quick responses, ROI and an instant fix
Social media marketing has often been wrongly seen as an instant fix for marketing a struggling business. Obtain some Facebook likes, spam people to follow your LinkedIn page, even buy some fake Twitter followers, prattle on about how you are the best company in the world in your blog articles and start blasting away. The clients will then pour in and save the dying business. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes time, effort and persistence. Which means it isn’t about ‘you’, it’s about ‘them’.
Social media isn’t a gateway to millions in instant revenue. Its real job is to add value with information that engages, educates, inspires, inform and maybe even entertains.
- Turning social media tools into weapons for mass annoyance
Jay Baer, NY Times bestselling author and social media strategist, says ‘Don't try and do social, just be social’. Unfortunately many businesses forget this and use social media tools as weapons of mass annoyance, spraying endless, stream-of-consciousness posts and tweets. Social media offers amazing ways to connect and build relationships. But the rules of engagement and interaction should be no different than in the physical world. The best way around this is to become social in the real sense: talk and participate in activities with other people, build loyalty, answer customer service questions, build a community, share information and become the Wikipedia of your industry.