Five Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Social Media is everywhere you go and try as you may, you just can’t seem to get away from it. It seems everywhere you turn there are people posting, liking, tweeting, connecting and following. With all the attention it enjoys, small business owners can start to feel pressure to conquer the social media world. And, while social media provides an excellent opportunity to reach customers, sometimes small business owners make serious mistakes that can cost them followers, likes, connections and even customers. Here are five common social media oversights for small businesses.

1. Giving Them the Hard Sell Small business owners can get into the rut of believing that if their promotion is not selling something, it is not valuable. However, in the world of social media, making content all about “The Sale” can be very detrimental. Social media is about building relationships and trust. This means interacting, teaching, asking questions and most importantly becoming a trusted resource. While there is a time and place for blatant sales pitches on social media, these should be carefully interspersed with other content that shows your personality and demonstrates your care and concern for the customer.

2. Making it All About “ME" There are two types of people with whom most people do not want to be stuck talking. One is a depressed person and the other a narcissist. What both of these people have in common is total focus on themselves, their problems, their interest and their concerns. This leaves little room to build a relationship and creates a very one-sided conversation. The same principle holds true in social media. People do not want to hear all about you…they want you to demonstrate your concern and a willingness to get to know them. Social media is about conversation – two way conversation. People want to know that their opinions, thoughts, concerns and ideas are important. They want you to ask them questions and demonstrate that they are valuable. This means that you need to take time to engage with people who post comments on your wall and recognize that sometimes it’s better to talk less and listen more.

3. Being the Life of the Social Media Party Just because you are starting to utilize social media in your marketing campaign does not mean you have to use all social media tools available. There are two things that small businesses need to consider with regard to social media. First, there is always something new and better and second, you do not have the time or budget to be in every new venue. It is better to concentrate on one or two social media sources and do those well than to be everywhere. In order to choose the most effective method for your business, consider your customer and determine the best place to reach them. Pick one or two vehicles and commit your time and energy to doing those with excellence.

4. Keeping Up With the Big Boys Being the littlest kid on the block can be difficult, however, as the smallest, it is important to remember that if you try to compete with the big kids, you could get hurt. The same is true in business. It is crucial to keep in mind that as a small business you do not have the same budget as the big guys. And, you don’t have to! Instead of trying to keep up, learn from them. See how they do things and try it on a smaller scale. You don’t need a huge budget to be effective, you just need to speak to your customer’s needs and be true to yourself.

5. Thinking Social Media is Free While you don’t have to spend money to be a part of a social media site, it would be foolish to think that this form of promotion is free. It requires time and attention to be effective – and your time is worth something. While it is one of the most cost effective ways to reach a large audience, it has a significant value and price associated with it. Factor this into your ROI to make sure you are getting the most accurate picture of the cost of your campaign.

In the end, Social media is an excellent way for small businesses to connect with their customers. But in order to have the best chance of success, it requires a plan, consistency and a willingness to listen.