Everyone can be on Facebook. Very few can be on Facebook and make it profitable for their business.
It's one of the first things I tell prospective clients, friends, family and curious strangers about my business. It's a big, bold splashy statement -- it almost sounds a little cocky, doesn't it? But it's fundamentally the truth. I recently dropped this line to a friendly stranger who was also an attendee at an art gallery, owned by a Checkmate Consulting client, and the co-founder standing next to me nodded in agreement firmly. "It's so hard," she said. "I had no idea until I started actually doing it."
There are a thousand tips and tricks you can Google about "how to social" for your business or brand. Dozens of books have been written; hundreds of podcast episodes recorded. But in my experience, there are 9 mistakes that novice business owners make over and over again on social media. Nine mistakes that are easy to fix, and easy for the untrained eye to ignore. Nine mistakes that can hinder businesses from experiencing a good return on the investment of their time.
1. "I know how to do social media for my business because I already use it personally."
Like the grant majority of Americans, most small business owners use some sort of social media platform on a daily basis. But the amount of time you spend on a platform does not automatically make you well versed in the platform. Often, small business owners wrongly identify their true level of competency based on the amount of time they've personally spent on their devices. But being an expert user does not make you an expert publisher. The hard skills you've acquired, like posting a photo or responding to a tweet, does not automatically translate to the hard skills you'll need to manage a Facebook page.
Solution: See yourself as less of an expert and more as a learner of social media. Read and follow social media blogs. Pay attention to how national brands in your industry use Facebook. Be humble and ask questions.
2. "I know we should be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest."
One of my favorite small business thought leaders Christy Wright always says that marketing is the fun part of starting a business. And it is! It's creative; you get to create a logo, a page, a description and then create fun content that you get to share on your personal social media accounts as a way to announce your business. You get the high of that initial affirmation that your business is real. Look how many likes your Facebook page has! And then you make an Instagram, a Twitter and a Pinterest, because that's fun, too, and other businesses have those, I guess.
But the amount of time required for each of those platforms to thrive is daunting for any small business owner. The average Facebook post for a seasoned social media manager takes 15-20 minutes to craft. Pinterest requires a lot of pins (or photos) on a website to be worth the investment of your time. Crafting a great, aesthetically pleasing image takes thought and planning for Instagram -- and it should be done almost daily. Twitter is barely worth your efforts if you're tweeting less than five times a day. And Youtube? Forget it. That's a lot of time each day spent on social media and not working.
Solution: Pick the social media platform your target customer spends the most time on and focus on just that platform. For a boutique targeting college students, Instagram is the way to go. For a pet sitting business, Facebook can be a great option, housing reviews and service prices right on the page. Master one social media platform at a time, and then diversify once you're profitable enough to not be wearing all the hats.
3. "I know my friends love seeing stuff about my business on Facebook."
It's a fact, and it's a reality: No one cares as much about your business as you do.
Don't use your personal social media accounts as tools to amplify your business' news, sales or promotions. Users requested to be your friend, not your business. Do not post organically on your personal social media accounts about your business. Don't share a graphic of an upcoming sale; don't post pictures from the closing office after you sell your first house. Don't direct private message old friends to generate leads. Don't retweet a special discount. Don't regram an upcoming event. Don't do it.
Not only will lose followers or be unfollowed on Facebook if you do this behavior, you're also alienating potential customers -- and being unfriended along the way.
Solution: Once you've made a social media account for your business, share it on your personal page and encourage others to opt into that content. When your friends are given the choice, most will be generous and respond with a follow. But don't force your content on anyone.
4. "I don't really want to spend any money on social media, but I want to make money from it."
This is a hard one for most novice social media for business users to understand, but they learn it eventually. It's very difficult to generate leads or sales on social media without spending money on advertising. Facebook in particular is very difficult to make generate sales if you're not spending money on advertising. Organic posts, or posts that aren't promoted using advertising dollars, usually reach between 6-12% of your total Facebook page's fans. So if you have 100 Facebook likes, each time you post a piece of content, between 6-12 people will see the post in their News Feed. Of those 6-12, how many will actually convert and book that hair appointment?
Solution: Commit to a social media advertising budget, even if your business is just starting out. For ecommerce retailers, spending as little as $10 on boosting a post on Facebook can amplify its reach to fans, increasing potential clicks to sale pages by more than 100%.
5. "My camera on my iPhone is good enough."
Your iPhone does take really good pictures, yes. But that doesn't mean that taking and posting photos from your iPhone is all the content you need for your business' social media platforms.
Make a creating good quality content a commitment, and get the tools required along the way as your business grows. If you're selling cameras, make sure the images you're posting of the cameras you're selling are clear, sharp and well lit. If you've got a dance studio, it's OK to start with videos of performances shot on a shaky iPhone, but get a $20 tripod eventually. For Etsy shop owners, getting a semiprofessional camera to take high-resolution photos and a portable light studio for great product shots can change how often their products are clicked on in search listings.
Solution: See what national brands in your industry are doing on social media, and emulate their content. There are professional, successful social media managers who spend all day with teams creating compelling content that competes with your homemade fare. Make a commitment to improve and innovate your content with Facebook live events, GIFS, videos and more.
6. "I don't have time to monitor it all the time."
The plight of the social media manager: the 24/7 dilemma. Social media never sleeps, and neither do some of your customers. It's not an option to ignore a new Instagram comment on a post for a day. It's not OK to turn off your Twitter notifications and leave a tweet unanswered for the weekend. It's not fine to leave a new review unthanked on your Facebook page.
In our instantaneous world, users expect quick responses from the brands they engage with on social media. Earn their follow and loyalty by promptly responding to questions in a professional manner. Most users, if not responded to quickly, will have already abandoned their shopping cart or skipped the email sign-up if you don't respond within an hour.
Solution: Make a commitment to responding to users in a timely manner. For most major brands, the targeted response time is an hour during business hours and three hours during off hours. For Checkmate clients with daily monitoring packages, the target response time is two hours. Whatever your window is, make a plan as to how your accounts will be monitored. Stick to it, and make a plan to check all your accounts every day -- no matter what.
7. "I only post a couple of times a week."
It's a wise old saying, but it's a good one: you reap what you sew. Very few places is this more apparent than on social media. If you casually do social media for your business, then you will get casual results. You might get a like here, a share there, a new follower a week -- you're just puttering along. Your lack of success on social media is a reflection of your lack strategy and intention with your business' social media platforms. If you post a quick photo without a call to action in the caption or share a viral video that has nothing to do with your business, your sales will not increase. You have not prepared or planted anything to harvest.
But if you have real strategy in place and make a commitment to posting a certain number of posts a week, the return on the investment of your time will dramatically increase. The level of engagement received on any particular platform is directly related to the amount of intention and thought behind the content it features.
Solution: Skip the formal, multi-page social media strategy and instead focus on a content to-do list. Make a commitment to posting a certain number of posts per platform every week -- no excuses. No exceptions.
8."No, we don't have any goals for our social media. More customers, I guess."
Everything you do for your business should connect back to your business' goals. You know that. Why would social media be any different?
It's a requirement for you to have goals for whatever social media platforms your businesses are on. These goals can be simple, like having a Facebook page to feature a phone number and help take up some more real estate on the results page when your customers Google you. Or they can be complex, like driving sales directly to your website's ecommerce engine to generate digital sales and engage and build brand loyalty in your customers. But whatever your goals are, have them line up with your business' goals. If you're a retailer, one main goal for your business is sales. Your Facebook page, then, should feature sales and specials in your store, not pictures of your dog outside by the sign. If your content is random, then you'll get random, unfocused results from your Facebook page, if any at all.
Solution: Develop and write down three goals for each social media platform your business is on [FREE PRINTABLE]. These goals should directly correlate with your business' overall goals. Display these three goals for your social media in an obvious place, and only share content that connects with a social media goal.
9. "We have all these likes, and we have nothing to show for it. It's a waste of time."
Everyone can be on Facebook. Very few can be on Facebook and make it profitable for their business.
If you've been making one of the above mistakes over and over again or are frustrated with the amount of time it takes to manage your business' social media effectively, I hear you. It's hard, and it's OK to be frustrated. But social media is not a waste of time for your business. It's a tool to help make your business grow. And I know you can do it!
But if you're looking for an expert to ease this burden, Checkmate Consulting can help. From social media strategy development to hourly social media management, we won't let you tweet the wrong thing or post that video on Facebook at the wrong time. We can do it all for you.
Solution: Just don't give up.