There are an overwhelming number of articles on the internet covering the latest in the world of social media, but with many of those providing sometimes contradictory information, it can be hard to determine who’s right, who’s wrong, and who’s just looking to make a sale.
The other important thing to note is that many articles are written generally or with larger brands in mind. Social media strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should be approached differently, and so some information out there, while technically sound, may not be the best advice for you.
Small Biz Social Co. focuses on businesses like yours, SMEs, start-ups, and those new to social media, so we hope you find our advice more relevant to your business. With that in mind, we’ve collated some of the most common mistakes made by smaller companies on social media, and quashed the misconceptions below with a little background info to boot.
#1 | I’LL REACH MORE PEOPLE IF I’M ON EVERY SOCIAL NETWORK
One of the most common misconceptions about social media is that in order for brands to be successful, they need to be on every network. While this may be beneficial for larger companies, the reality for SMEs is that your target audience is likely to only be on a handful of networks.
Consider the time you can dedicate to social media, and the relevance of each network to your brand – we’ll look at this in a moment. The age-old saying of quality over quantity wins out here, especially as the in-built algorithms are making it ever-harder for brands to reach their audiences.
We recommend selecting up to three social networks that you can maintain well, each serving a different purpose, to see the best results.
#2 | SOCIAL MEDIA IS ‘ONE-SIZE FITS ALL’
As touched upon in our first point, not every social network will be relevant to your business. This is because each network was set up for a different purpose; each therefore has a different audience, which ultimately means you’ll need to provide specific content that’s relevant to that social network.
We recommend adopting your social media strategy for each network. This will ensure you get the most out of it as you can.
Let’s use a local craft store as an example business. You might say: “I’m going to use Facebook to share my products, offers and any events I hold, Instagram to reach a younger, perhaps international audience with just my best product images, and Twitter to join topical conversations, highlight other artists that inspire me and answer any questions my customers may have.
#3 | MY TARGET AUDIENCE ISN’T ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you’re struggling to determine which social network will be most relevant to your brand because you believe your audience just isn’t on social media or indeed could be on any network, we suggest approaching it from a different angle.
You may be a local hardware store with a vast target audience. Whereas before this could have led you to being on every social network to cover all bases, we’d encourage you to think about the type of customer that comes into your shop most often and also which new demographic you’d like to reach.
Older customers are generally most likely to be on Facebook, as they’ll often use it as a means of staying in touch with friends and family around the world. But before looking to paid media to acquire new fans of this demographic, try suggesting your customers follow your Facebook page when they’re next in store, and tell them why… perhaps you share the latest stock on your Facebook page before it hits your shelves, or you share tips and ‘how to’ videos or use it as your out-of-hours customer communication platform. In-store posters with your social media @handles are also a great subtle reminder to your customers that their shopping experience with you can continue in the comfort of their own home.
In instances where it’s really difficult to pinpoint your target audience on social media, we’d encourage you to think who you’d like to reach instead.
You may be one of several hardware stores in your town, or want to stand out from the larger chain superstores. In this instance, we’d recommend looking at your messaging, and how it can be adapted to reach a new audience. You could choose to target a younger, female demographic, by sharing interior design images on Instagram with scenarios that involve your tools. EG: A feature gallery wall in a home, with a caption describing the best tools and tips for the job without ruining the wall itself. Or a before-and-after garden image with the tools required and some desirable accessories – perfect for summer entertaining and BBQs.
#4 | MY BUSINESS PAGE SHOULD REFLECT BOTH ME AND MY BRAND
To an extent, yes, but getting the right balance of this is where many brand fall short. This point is highly subjective depending on your business and industry, but it’s an important topic to cover and there are some universal points that should help every SME.
Many brands are guilty of not getting this fine line quite right, but the worst thing here is that most don’t realise they’re falling subject to it.
Every element of your brand’s social media profile should be carefully considered, and each post should drive towards the same goal – whether that’s educating your audience, creating more clicks to your website or inspiring them to come in store.
Unlike your personal profile, which you can update whenever you want without worrying about the quality of your post, your business page should have a clear strategy, content plan, distinguished tone of voice and a high standard of relevant posts.
You may pride yourself on the close relationship you have with your customers, but new customers don’t know you that well yet, and may be put off by overly-familiar wording or kisses at the end of posts.
Equally, you may own a clothing store, and have a great passion for your family dog, Delilah, but while some customers may enjoy seeing her in the store sometimes, posts about her on your business page is not relevant to your wider customer base and can dilute your brand messaging. This type of post should be kept to your personal page, even if you’re sharing an image of her in store with new products.
#5 | POSTING OFTEN WILL RESULT IN SUCCESS
Unfortunately, creating content isn’t enough when the quality is overlooked. The type of images and posts you share are a direct representation of your brand and its message. Too many sales-led posts or irrelevant posts may see people unfollowing your page, as they may find the hard-sell approach disingenuous or frustrating.
It’s also worthwhile remembering that social media is a two-way street. While we understand that you can’t be on social media all day, allocating 15 minutes a day to reviewing your social activity and engaging with relevant posts will go a long way to giving back to your online community, while increasing awareness of your brand page.
A great way to evaluate the content that’s working best for your brand is to make use of the in-built analytics for business pages. This will tell you at a glance the type of audience engaging most, the specific posts that received the most interaction, and even the times of day your audience is most online. Use this information to inform your strategy – it’s ok if you have to adapt your strategy slightly; just keep your business objectives front of mind.
#6 | SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE
Social media continues to become heavily monetised, and stricter algorithms continue to be introduced, making it harder for brands to reach their audiences. That’s right – just because you have 1,000 fans doesn’t mean that they’ll all see your latest update; in fact around 10 per cent will be lucky to do so. We’ll go into more detail about paid media and algorithm settings in a future blog post, but for now, it’s important to be prepared to have to pay to reach your target audience.
Having said that, algorithms aren’t usually as strict for fan bases of a few hundred – they really start to kick in once you’re closer to the 700 mark.
This doesn’t mean that you should give up on your social media strategies. There are ways to ensure you reach as many of your audience as the algorithms allow; such as using popular hashtags relevant to your brand – this will help more people find your content. Tagging other pages encourages that person or page to share your content to their fan base too, and posting at the times when your audience is most online gives you a greater chance of engagement.
Overall, quality consistent content tells the algorithms that your brand page is serving relevant content, and this will make it look more favourably on your page and allow more people to see your posts.
#7 | SOCIAL MEDIA IS INSTANT, SO I SHOULD EXPECT RESULTS INSTANTLY
Although the nature of social media is immediate, results take time to nurture and develop. Building a loyal fan base can take months, but there’s no denying the benefits of cultivating your following with genuine fans, rather than buying likes from people who will never engage or buy your products.
Be patient, and be clear on your objectives. If you keep consistent and regularly check in on how you’re performing against your goals, you’ll have a recipe for a successful social media strategy.
Have a query that wasn’t answered above? Get in touch and we’ll try to feature it in an upcoming post, if we can’t get back to you directly.