Will social platforms be around for years to come? I believe so. But perhaps not in the form we know now. The social media landscape is constantly evolving. As technology improves the best minds in digital find new ways to utilise its potential and develop new platforms with new ways for us to interact with our peers and our customers. And with those new platforms come new business opportunities. New ways of reaching potential clients develop and for a small business present a chance to boost sales and increase brand awareness.
If we asked you to list the top three most important marketing tools for a new or scaling business, would you say social media was up there? Most business owners would say social media is an absolute must if you want to succeed, and they’d have a point, but there’s a big difference between using social media for business and using social media for business success.
You might be surprised to learn that many businesses are indeed wasting their time with social media, but it’s not necessarily for the reasons you might expect.
Let’s take a closer look:
When social media is a waste of time
All tools are as good as useless if they’re used incorrectly. The same goes for using social media as a business marketing tool; if it’s used poorly or just for the sake of it, it becomes pointless and even detrimental to the business.
The first mistake: Rushing into it
There is a common misconception that businesses should use social media to promote their brands from day one, even if there’s nothing of any merit to publish just yet. Many startups that barely have a strong brand image in place feel that they simply have to post something on social media channels in order to get things off the ground. But this isn’t the case; businesses don’t have to post anything, and should certainly never do it just for the sake of it. Having a clear purpose and strategy in place is essential before even thinking about launching business social media profiles.
The second mistake: Posting irrelevant content
A mistake that largely follows on from the first, posting and sharing irrelevant information is all too common among businesses using social media. Either through lack of anything relevant to post (often due to not being ready for social media) or through lack of knowledge and expertise, some businesses end up sharing posts that have nothing to do with their industry or field.
For example, if your business specialises in gourmet food services and you share a video of a dog on a trampoline, you’ve most certainly wasted your time. Any followers that do see such posts are going to be confused or start losing trust and confidence in the brand posting it. All-in-all, your only achievement will be to weaken your brand image, perhaps irreparably.
The third mistake: Inconsistent posting
Businesses that post to social media on an ad-hoc basis or with huge gaps in between posts are inadvertently damaging their brand image. This approach to business social media marketing essentially tells all followers and potential customers that you don’t know what you’re doing, which is bad news for a business’ authority levels. Even worse, a customer who lands on a business social media page that hasn’t posted anything for over six months might assume the business has closed altogether, which means they’ll steer clear for good.
The fourth mistake: Being too pushy
It might sound strange, given that business social media is ultimately intended to market the brand, but posting too often about products and services is bad news. Social media is, after all, about being social, and going in for the hard sell all the time is the opposite of that. Businesses that do this will only push people away, rendering their efforts a complete waste of time and resources.
The fifth mistake: Going it alone
Not understanding the ever-evolving social media algorithms and strategy reqirements is the ultimate reason that new and scaling businesses so often struggle to get anywhere with social media activity. Unless you’re clued up on the many nuances of social media business strategy or willing to invest part of your budget in getting professional help, blindly posting content to social media will ultimately be a waste of your time.
Making social media work for your business
Don’t be disheartened; social media isn’t always a waste of time for businesses. Now you know what not to do, you can begin to plan your way to a business social media strategy that’s actually worth the time and money you will inevitably need to spend on it.
Here are 6 must-dos for making business social media worthwhile:
Have a clear brand image in place
If you don’t know who or what your business is, you can’t exactly start shouting about it on social media. What would you say? What would they see? Who would you even be talking to? If you don’t have this most basic of business elements in place, you’re not ready for social media just yet. Get the essentials like brand and key messages in place; the rest will follow.
Have a strategy
Using the scattergun approach to social media is a sure way to fail. All successful business social media accounts are run on solid, well-researched strategies laid down by experts. You as the business must know who you are, who you want to reach and what you’ve got to offer. The strategy will stitch all of these elements together and ensure the right messages are being seen by the right audience at the right time. If you know enough about social media you can always put this together yourself, otherwise a professional social media strategist can help guide you.
Be visible and consistent
This largely follows on from the need for a strategy, as regular and consistent posting is essential to a successful business social media presence. If you don’t feel you have the time to post regularly, you can use scheduling software to help you out, but you should never allow your social presence to drop off a cliff. Make sure you’re posting content that is of a consistent quality at regular intervals, so your followers will learn to look out for your updates. But don’t post too often or you’ll start annoying people; it’s quite the balancing act.
Pick your channels wisely
An accountancy business trying to make it big on Instagram is the very definition of social media time wasting. Make sure you pick the social media channels that best complement your business type and goals and focus your attention on those. Trying to hit them all is pointless; you’ll only end up weakening your brand image and frustrating yourselves.
Posting content that is relevant to your brand and your industry is essential, but so too is posting content that your followers will value. Whether it’s guides, how-to’s, tour videos, tips or just something to make them laugh, it is this valuable content that will help build your authority and brand trust, along with brand awareness and those all-important sales.
You may have heard it said that business marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. This classic albeit slightly clichéd adage is especially true for business social media. It’s not all going to happen overnight; it takes years to build up a solid social media presence with big-time rewards, but it’s worth the wait.
When you get it right, social media marketing can take your business to entirely new heights and drive startling amounts of revenue. But to get it right, you need to make sure you’re not wasting your time on silly mistakes. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to social success.
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