For the small business owner just getting started in social media, the landscape can be overwhelming. Follow the tips and examples below to avoid common pitfalls and start your social media marketing strategy on the right path!
1. Don't snooze and lose your branded social profiles.
Even if you are feeling timid about jumping into social media marketing, you should still go ahead and claim a profile with your name on all the major social networks. Most will allow you to keep your page private until you're ready, and you don't want to run the risk of your business name being taken. Not only would this make it harder for search engines to find you, it takes control of your brand out of your hands in that particular space. Research shows that 43% of website owners pick a domain name for their business at or before the time they launch it - business owners should be doing the same on social media.
Example: Apple is known in the social marketing world for not having an official, active Facebook page. However, the 11 million people who like the top result, Apple Inc., might not know that they're not interacting with the company's official page.
2. Don't rely on organic reach alone.
It's no secret that organic reach - the number of people who see content you haven't paid to promote - has been declining in recent months. Some things that contribute to your organic reach are under your control (like regularly posting engaging content), but many factors are simply determined by Facebook's algorithm.
If the purpose of your Facebook presence is simply to engage with your community of followers and establish a brand presence, you can still get by with organic posting. However, if your goals include ecommerce and driving traffic to your online store, Facebook Ads are definitely worth considering. Because they can be hyper-targeted, Facebook Ads are a relatively inexpensive way to get your content in front of a far greater number of just the right people.
3. Don't just curate - create!
Content curating has literally become a full time job for some marketers. Finding and sharing great content helps grow your reach and connect with other marketers in your space. However, curation at the expense of creation is a pitfall to watch out for. When you are busy running a business, it's important to find time to write original articles, create videos, and design posts. Because if all you ever do is share, the search engine optimization, site traffic, and brand building never comes home to roost on your own website.
Example: McDonald's has arguably one of the most vibrant social media presences out there. They are constantly creating clever, original content that reflects their brand and capitalizes on current trends. Look no further than the #McdOneGoal Twitter hashtag campaign from this year's World Cup if you need inspiration.
4. Don't make it a one-way conversation.
There is a time and place for listing your products and boasting about your accomplishments - and it's on your website. On the other hand, social media can help raise awareness for your brand and your products, but not in the same way as a website or an advertising piece. The fastest way to lose your social following is to talk about yourself. People know they can visit your website if they want to buy something - they followed you on social media to connect on a deeper lever. Find clever ways to work in announcements, show your products in context, and create conversations, and you'll see your engagement soar.
Example: Following a company like A.1. Original Sauce on Facebook could get boring pretty fast if all they did was pitch sauce to their followers. Luckily, A.1. has chosen to invest their resources in creating hilarious posts and videos to keep followers liking, sharing, and commenting, such as the now-famous A.1. Sauce: New Friend Requests video:
5. Don't miss out on visual branding opportunities.
Social media is all about image these days - literally. Twitter's new profiles allow viewers to sort by photo and video posts, Instagram and Pinterest are raging successes, and Facebook's new layout features increased image post sizes and now shows cover photos above every tab. If there is one area of your social media marketing plan where you shouldn't take shortcuts, it the imagery. Take advantage of all this new visual real estate by creating attractive, engaging posts and cover images for all your profiles.
Example: Fanta is a brand that really gets visual marketing. Fanta's Facebook page is constantly updated with humorous custom posts and well-branded cover and profile images.