If you’ve never been active on social media, you may be hesitant because you’re worried about making mistakes. The good news is that the internet is always changing, so even if you do make a mistake (which is highly unlikely, because there really are no “mistakes”) you can improve your next post and keep going.
The other reason you might be hesitant is that maybe you feel like you missed the boat, like everyone else is miles or years ahead of you and you’ll never catch up. Don’t worry about that, either. Social media is like laundry; it’s always there waiting for you. But like laundry, you get out of it what you put into it.
Although I said you can’t really make mistakes, there are best practices when it comes to posting, building your profile and engaging others. Using social media in a haphazard or sloppy way won’t get you the results you’re hoping for. And if you don’t get good results, you’ll be more likely to give up on social media entirely. We don’t want that!
Social media gives you unprecedented communication channels to people who are interested in what you have to offer. We’re going to look at seven ways you might end up costing yourself or your business through simple, yet avoidable, mistakes.
#1 Unclear Goals
You should have a clear goal in mind when you use social media. Your goal doesn’t have to be lofty or complicated. But if you don’t have a goal in mind, you’ll be dabbling here and there without making any impact. There are essentially three benchmarks marketers use to check their success on social media.
Followers The number of people who follow you on Instagram or Twitter, or Like your Facebook page. This number isn’t as important as it used to be. Sure, you want to see those numbers go up, otherwise you’re communicating with no one. However, there’s a more important metric to focus on. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Profile Views This is how many people are looking at your Instagram or Twitter profile, or your Facebook page, rather than just reading your posts. This metric tells you how many people want to know more about you and your business. It’s unreasonable to expect this number to skyrocket, like followers or post likes, but you should see some action on your profile.
Engagement Engagement has become the most important metric in the world of social media marketing. This is the percentage rate that tells you how many people are interacting with your individuals posts. That engagement could be in the form of likes, comments or shares. Generally, the formula is based on how many people saw your post (that’s called “reach”). For instance, if 100 people saw a post, and five people liked the post, five people shared the post and five people commented, that’s an engagement rate of 15%.
(In the beginning, don’t be worried about what your numbers should be. What you want to focus on is continual progress, always seeing those numbers go up.)
Choosing one of these metrics as your goal will help you craft your social media campaigns and individual posts. For instance, if you want to increase your number of followers, you could have a giveaway contest. The rules could be that if someone follows you, they’re entered into the drawing. That way, you’re focused on a single metric and can make sure all your effort is focused in that direction.
Plan every campaign around a specific goal, which you can measure by getting the target market to take particular action, like following you. By limiting the number of actions you want a potential customer to take in an email or post, you are not only working toward a single goal, but also reducing unfollowers.
#2 Unprofessional Profiles
Make your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles as informative and professional as possible. Include basic information that potential customers or clients want to know, like your contact information, the services or products you offer and your hours (if you’re a brick and mortar business).
Also include info that makes you stand out from your competition. Your logo and colors will help make your account recognizable at a glance. You can include your brand slogan, if you have one, as well as your website address or your current promotion or sale.
If you don’t fill out your profile in a complete and professional manner, you’ll be sending potential customers to a business who does.
#3 Following Too Few People
As soon as you sign on for most social sites, they ask you what you are interested in and give recommendations as to who you might like to follow. Take these suggestions seriously and sign up, because the ones they are suggesting are usually the top participants at the site in relation to your niche.
Then, after you’ve signed up for several of the top influencers in your industry, go out and find related accounts that have a small to medium following. Why? Because when someone has fewer followers, they are more likely to follow you in return, as well as interact with your posts, which boosts your engagement and makes Instagram happy with your account.
How do you find the right small to medium accounts? Here’s how to find them on Instagram.
Search for a hashtag in your niche. For instance, as a plus size blogger, I would search for #plussizefashion.
Tap or click on “Recent” posts, not “Top.” Top posts will most likely be posted by someone with a big following.
Look at recent posts that interest you. If the photo and caption spark something with you, go to that person’s bio to see if they’re someone you’d like to follow. If they have more than approximately 2,000 followers, keep looking. (You can follow that account if you’d really like to; they are just less likely to follow you back or comment on your posts.)
More than likely, the smaller accounts that are related to your niche will follow you back because they’re looking to connect with like-minded accounts too.
You can follow a similar process on Twitter using hashtags. To find small to medium pages on Facebook, search for general terms (like plus size fashion) without the hashtags.
#4 Promoting Too Soon
Most newbies to social networking are there because they’ve heard it is a great way to reach millions of people. They no sooner sign up with their profile than they start to crank out posts, Tweets and promotions at lightning speed.
Social networks are just that, social. It’s not about you hammering out promotion after promotion. Focus on building relationships and connections that are based on your common personal and/or business interests.
Yes, you can sell your services or products on social media, but that’s not your main goal. Your goal is to truly connect with people in order to build your brand and find those super fans who will promote you to their friends.
# 5 Publishing the Wrong Content
Every social network attracts people who prefer a specific type of content or type of delivery. For example, most Twitter users want very short and to-the-point messages. Whereas Instagram users are looking for intriguing visuals and insightful captions.
When you’re ready to post, think about which social media channel you’re using and craft a post that works for that channel. For instance, if you are a landscaper and you want to share a photo of the flower beds you just finished for a customer, you don’t want to share it the exact same way across multiple social media channels.
For Facebook, post the photo “as is” or a short video of a walk-through of the bed, along with a caption that explains what’s going on. You can also include a tag to another company or customer (if it’s a business), as well as your contact information.
For Twitter, post a vertical image of the bed, because Twitter users tend to like vertical images best. Include a short, fun Tweet that uses one or two hashtags to describe your photo, for instance #landscapedesign.
On Instagram, post a photo using a filter that makes the image pop or matches your overall aesthetic. Include a caption that’s lengthier than a Tweet that tells a story about the photo, or share a personal insight that will resonate with your followers.
Organize your photos, and perhaps even Word or text files of captions and Tweets, into folders for each social media network. That organization will help you deliver the right type of content to each one, based on its specialties and the preferences of their users.
#6 Ignoring Mentions and Comments
Conduct a quick search each day for a couple of your business’s keywords and/or brand products. Look for mentions of your business, product, and/or your name. Also look for questions and positive or negative comments on other sites.
One easy way to find out what people are saying about your business online is to set up a daily Google alert. Type in your business name inside quotation marks, such as “ACME Dynamite Sticks” or your name, if that’s how people know your work. (In my case, that would be “Nancy Basile”.) Then, check the box that says “daily summary.” Now you’ll get an email every day with any mentions of you or your business, along with a link to where you were mentioned.
Social media channels are also very good at alerting you to mentions and tags. Facebook will give you a notification when you are tagged in a photo or mentioned in a status update. On Twitter, click on the bell to see any mentions of your account. On Instagram, tap or click the heart to see the latest activity on your account, including mentions and comments that you can respond to.
If you see questions, answer them and/or refer the person to a specific blog post or web page for more information. If you see positive comments and reviews, thank them. If you see negative comments, refer them to your customer service email for more details on what their issue is. The offer of help will show good will to anyone who might have seen it and sort the real customers from those who might be doing nothing more than being negative just to be negative.
No matter how unfair anyone has been on any platform, always keep good customer service in mind and resist the urge to get into a back-and-forth argument. Taking on a negative attitude could cost you more than you can ever imagine, including potential customers or loyal customers. Keep it professional at all times, which usually means taking the high road.
If you’re really, really tempted to let loose on an internet troll, put down your phone or walk away from your computer. Then, take a walk or vent to a friend. You’ll come back with a healthier and more positive attitude that lets you assist that person in a more productive manner.
Remember, potential customers are always looking for reviews and comments about you and/or your business. You want to make sure every online interaction you have shows your business in the best way possible.
I hope this list of seven social media mistakes is a good primer for you to use social media in a way that’s beneficial to your business. I created a one-page checklist of this blog post for you to refer to when you need it.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.