10 Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Stop me if you have heard this one: You are scrolling through your social media feed when you see a post from a local business page. It’s too promotional, dry, and has no real focus–much like every other post you see from them. Disinterested, you unlike the page and continue.

Social media can be a double edge sword for small businesses–on one hand, it allows them to compete with big business and get their name out to more people in their community, on the other hand, if done wrong they are left with a lot of work and very little return. This conundrum was the core of my talk at a recent keynote I gave for a Seattle chamber of commerce meeting. While the talk was a little over an hour and a half long, just for you, I summarized my points below (aren’t I nice?):

The future belongs to those who believe (1)

  1. Over posting: I don’t know about you, but I have unfollowed friends who post every 10 minutes when it is meaningless. The same goes for businesses. While it can be fun to see which posts will garner more attention than others, it’s annoying to see several status updates from a business continually on your feed. In a nutshell, updating every 2 hours is a bit obsessive. Always aim for quality over quantity.
  2. Under posting: Incidentally, it can be easy to let social media fall off the radar for a few days. Or weeks. Or much longer. This is one of the quickest ways for people to lose interest in you. My suggestion would be to make a content calendar to make sure that something is always being posted (at least once a day). This depends on the social media platform as well.
  3. Too Promotional: Social media marketing is best done when you aren’t using it as solely a promotion tool. It’s easy to post about the latest sale, or new inventory coming in—but that shouldn’t be the only thing posted. Social media serves as the first impression, not the closing sale. People want to get to know you, not a salesperson. Pose questions to have answered, research what your customers are looking for, and listen to your customers’ needs before posting anything.
  4. Changing your Handle (profiles) across social media/constantly: Have you ever gone to a website and found a broken link? Isn’t it frustrating? Imagine that when you change your social media username after being tagged in pictures, statuses or tweets. Changing your username can harm your social media SEO, so be sure to pick one and stick with it. My suggestion is to have a uniform profile name across all your social media accounts. If your business profile name on Instagram is “LizzisPetStore” don’t change it to “LizziLovesPets” on Twitter. That requires your clients to remember more names when they want to tag you in their social media posts. Make it easier on them.
  5. Not Identifying Your Target Audience:  If your target audience is found to use Twitter more, why are you investing all your time in Instagram? Determine what target audience you wish to reach and focus your time and energy on where your audience is.
  6. Not connecting social media/online store to brick and mortar store: Your brand should be universal, don’t change your ‘voice’ when you are online. Make sure everything lines up—from your Facebook page to your front door! Keep logos, wording and overall feel the same. This is a great opportunity to do some cross marketing as well–let your customers know you have a Facebook by adding a sign in your window.
  7. Overusage of Social Media Slang: Please, don’t try to be too ‘cool’. Too many times we have seen companies write something like “The best day ever! Like, come down to Business A to get awesome prizes when you buy Item B! #TooCool4School #Like4Like #OMG #Hashtag #WeAreTotallyHip” Be YOURSELF. I often say to new mentors that their mentees can smell insincerity from a mile away. Same can be said of your consumers. Don’t attempt to “trick” them.
  8. Too wordy: The average attention span is usually 5 seconds. You can safely assume that it’s half of that while on social media. Until you build a strong online presence, people won’t take the time to read a 3 paragraphed post on Facebook or Instagram. Keep it short and sweet.
  9. Misspellings: Above all else, you want to show professionalism in your branding. Could you imagine if words were misspelled on a billboard your business rented? It’s the same thing on social media. Double check your spelling. Pro tip: I like to run all my posts through Microsoft word to see if it catches anything. If I am on my phone, I reread the entire message since autocorrect likes to rear its ugly head.
  10. Over-Dependence: Social Media isn’t the end-all be-all for your businesses marketing scheme; it is one part of a very dynamic plan. Want to draw attention to a sale at your store? Run a guerrilla campaign and promote it on Facebook. Running a social media contest? Promote it in your store.

Bonus 11: Spending too little of time: Social Media is by no means a quick fix. It takes several videos before one goes viral. And it takes a while to build up your social media presence. Don’t stop after a few months—continue to nurture your branding. The care you give put into it will show to your consumers. I have seen television shows saved from cancellation and favorite reality stars kept on shows for a little longer thanks to social media. Don’t shove it off to an inexperienced intern and expect them to do all of it for you. People can tell when something is unauthentic, especially on the internet. Don’t be that guy.

Have you committed these mistakes before? What have you done to fix them? Let me know in the comments below!