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The Biggest Mistakes Small Businesses Make on Social Media

You’ve been doing social media for a while now, have posted to your Facebook feeds – and maybe even dabbled in running paid ads (or “boosting” posts). But you’ve yet to see anything out of it. Where are these results everyone keeps gloating about? Shouldn’t you be a celebrity by now with how long you’ve been active on social? And why can’t you seem to produce any sales? Is social media marketing in fact just a money-grubbing scam for hopeful small business owners?

All successful businesses have been exactly where you’re at today with social media. It’s all too common, and over the past 7 years, I can identify a few of the reasons your social media hasn’t produced any meaningful outcomes yet.

#1. Not setting goals and mapping out a plan

There was a line from Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Its ambiguity always mystified me when I thought about life in general. But when you think about it when applied to social media, you just need to dig a little deeper. You know what you want from social media, but you haven’t defined clear cut goals and a plan to get there.

What are your big business goals this year? How will social media help drive those goals? It’s imperative to match a S.M.A.R.T marketing objective to your business goals. Your marketing objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. This will help you better define the metrics that you care about through your social media. Let’s take a look at an example:

Business Goal: Grow Online Sales
S.M.A.R.T Objective: Increase online sales by 25% over the next 6 months.

The S.M.A.R.T objective is how social media will help achieve the bigger goal, with specific measurables, and a timeframe. Now you know exactly what you expect from social media!

#2. Splattering content everywhere without knowing your audience

What good is your social media if nobody is paying attention to the content you’re spewing out? Content takes a lot of time, and even money if you’re investing in video or paying someone to help you. You need to make sure that you know who you’re trying to attract before you spend any more precious time and resources.

Not every person is going to be your customer. So how do you find your target customers to create content that will attract them to you? Create user personas for your target customers. They’re fictitious profiles that map out each of your target customers’ characteristics, daily habits, behaviors, and so on. Find out how to build your buyer personas, but make sure you create no less than 3, but no more than 5. Otherwise, your marketing can get too scattered.

Now that you’ve got your personas, you now have a deeper understanding for what they’re looking for, the types of content they like to consume, and the social media platforms they’re most likely using on a daily basis.

Another thing to consider is: not all content is created equal. In other words, each social media platform engages different people, and requires different types. For example, you’ve got a blog article about fun DIY science projects with your kids. For Twitter, you’ll more than likely provide the link, and it will pull an image from your blog post to promote. You’re limited to 140 characters – so your post will likely be shorter than maybe on Facebook. On Facebook, perhaps you’d prefer to do a photo carousel post, where you can add different square images with different captions to show off the different science projects. On Pinterest, you need a big image that has the blog title, along with a collage of the different science projects. For Instagram, perhaps you’ve taken a video of one of the science projects with your phone, and post the video to promote the blog post. As social media has expanded, there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to content. You’ve got to create content native to each platform.

#3. You’ve got no budget dedicated to social marketing

You can have the greatest content in the world, tailored for each platform, aimed for driving the goals you’re looking for – but what good is it if you’re talking to an empty room? You must pay to get your content in front of the right people. You’re going to have to go through a testing period to figure out what works, and what doesn’t. If you’re starting from ground zero, it’ll take you a solid 4-5 months to truly find which audiences are most engaged, the types of content they like, and which messaging works. You’ve got to invest in this research – it’s critical to your success. And don’t forget – one of the most beautiful things about digital marketing is that you can proactively monitor and manage your campaign performance in real-time!

#4. You think you’ve got to be on every platform

There are 7 billion people in the world, with 6.7 million people in Arizona alone! They are not all your customers. Different demographics are using different platforms on a frequent basis. It’s important to master 1-3 social channels, instead of spreading yourself too thin across every single one. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you’re probably going to use more visual content and promote offers, events, or specials you have. You’ll probably focus more on Instagram and Facebook, instead of LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat – and so on.

#5. Having unrealistic expectations

Social media can produce mind-blowing results if it’s used correctly – but it’s not a magic wand. Human behaviors and the world of social is in a state of evolution. So don’t think that social media will produce immediate, chart-topping results for your business. It requires consistent management and improvement.

If you’ve made one of the aforementioned mistakes – don’t fret. Plan, strategize, and focus on creating the right content for the right channels, and the right people.

Chalease is the Marketing Manager of Iron Springs Design. A creative juggernaut with a knack for creating mind-blowing digital strategies, social media campaigns, and branding initiatives, she's helped small businesses produce powerful results and attract not just customers, but loyal fans.