How to Avoid 9 Scary Social Media Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Are your social media marketing tactics a “trick” or a “treat”? I love a good pun, so talking about the “scary” social media marketing mistakes small businesses make just before Halloween is right up my haunted alley.

Incredibly after 10 years in the business, I still see small businesses making the same social media marketing mistakes over and over. Every time I do audits, every time I do workshops and every time I do one-on-one training I see half-baked plans, lack of consistency and missing information. Regular auditing can catch some of these things, but some of these social media marketing mistakes take a little more effort.

Not Planning Your Social Media Strategy

You might be able to throw on a flannel shirt, boots and a fake beard and pretend to be a lumberjack at the last minute on Halloween, but not sufficiently planning your social media marketing will inevitably lead to mistakes you could have avoided. Taking the time to write down a social media strategy and tactical plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The time you spend actually thinking about what you want to accomplish with your social media presence, and planning it out, will save you time in the implementation.

Planning your social media quarterly and annually helps you account for sales cycles, holidays, special events and family vacations. It enables you to batch task the work of writing and designing your social media posts and gives you the flexibility of being able to schedule posts ahead of time.

Ghosting the Audience

Consistency in your social media schedule is even more important than frequency. If you “ghost” your audience for long periods of time, not only will the algorithms perhaps make it difficult to get in front of your audience again, your audience might forget about you. While many social media gurus suggest posting on certain networks up to three times per day, I would much prefer to ensure you can post consistently three times per week. If you post three times per day for a month and suddenly get burnt out and don’t post again for weeks, your audience may begin to question your reliability.

Not Understanding your Audience

Always remember you are talking to your IDEAL audience when you’re posting on social media. Don’t worry about what your friends, family and teenagers think or want in your posts unless they ARE your ideal audience. This is an important distinction.

It doesn’t matter if your teenagers think your Reels or TikToks are “cringey” if you’re a business coach…what do your ideal clients think? Are they watching? Are they engaging? That’s what matters.

If you don’t know what kind of content your ideal clients enjoy on social media, it’s time to find out. You will never regret the time you spend on customer research.

  • Try something new and track the engagement and new business.
  • Use Facebook’s A/B testing for organic posts to see which type of content performs better.
  • Do some client research! Run polls on your profiles.
  • Have coffee chats with your best clients. Ask them where they’re hanging out online and what they read and engage with.

All Work and No Play

It’s ok to sell on social media, but sales content cannot, should not, be your only type of content. Customers today want to know more about your company than just what you sell. They can find that out on your website. Clients want to get to know the business owner, their values and personality traits, before working with them. This means you need to make room in your social media plan for personal stories: content that shows the faces and personalities of the owner and employees.

Personal content doesn’t have to mean you share your intimate family vacation pictures on your business accounts. Personalizing your content means your using faces, showing spontaneous and behind-the-scenes activities customers might not otherwise get to see.

  • Staff doing a trending dance that shows off your fashion or footwear.
  • You telling a story about something funny that happened today.
  • Sharing your daily agenda and task list.
  • Talking about something that didn’t work out.
  • Featuring the office dog.

Not all of this content deserves to live on your feed forever. A lot of this content is perfect for time-limited content options like Instagram Stories.

Missing Information

Ensuring your social media profiles are completely filled out is essential and often overlooked. Every time I do a social media audit I find pieces of information missing in bios and about sections. When was the last time you went through each and every piece of information on your Facebook Business Page and checked that it was up to date and linking properly? Here are just a few things I’ve found recently on business pages that were missing or broken:

  • Phone numbers (yes, some people still use the phone to call businesses)
  • Email addresses
  • Website links (especially if you use tracking, shortened links or landing pages)
  • Descriptions that don’t match the website
  • Links to other social media (this week on LinkedIn I found someone who listed a Twitter account they didn’t own in their contact information)

And while you’re double-checking all these things…double check that the social media icons on your website link to your profiles. This is another mistake I see small businesses making all the time…it’s probably something they’ve just overlooked when designing their own website. Need a checklist to keep track of what needs to be done? Grab my Social Media Self-Audit Guide by signing up for my emails.

Not Engaging with your Audience

Not engaging with your audience is like turning the lights off at 6pm on Halloween but still sending your own kids around the neighborhood to collect candy. You want all the benefits without the work…and yeah, I mean we all wish for that, but it’s just not going to happen on social media.

Small businesses on social media actually have an advantage over larger businesses: the ability to be personable, flexible and conversational. Can you imagine Wendy’s answering every comment they receive? No, they pick and choose how to engage. But a small, local restaurant can respond to all their comments and build a relationship with their customers to keep them coming back.

Engagement on social media takes time, no question. It is time well spent, however. If you want people to engage with your content there are two things you have to do: make content worth engaging with and engage with the content of other people. Here are a few of the ways you can engage with your audience:

  • Answer comments on your Facebook posts.
  • Respond to all reviews on Facebook & Google, whether they are positive or negative.
  • Spend time on Twitter talking with other people in the community, not just posting about your specials and products.
  • Leave supportive comments on other business posts.
  • Congratulate clients, or send them birthday wishes.
  • Retweet or share community and charity posts, or even posts from other businesses!

Abusing Automation

Scheduling your social media posts, and optimizing your systems to share from one network to another, are both great ways to save time on your social media marketing. I encourage small businesses to learn how to recycle and repurpose content and use scheduling tools.

I also discourage small businesses from auto-linking accounts to post from one to the other. There are just too many things that can go wrong with auto-linking: posting things you didn’t mean to post, not sharing photos, too many hashtags, etc.

  • Instead of auto-linking your Twitter to post on LinkedIn use a social media scheduling system that allows you to post in both places and tweak the message for each one.
  • Instead of using the Twitter option on Instagram, use IFTTT to ensure your Twitter followers get to see the photo.
  • Instead of sharing your TikTok automatically to other platforms, use SnapTik to download the video without the TikTok watermark and then upload to those platforms.

There are ways to automate bits and pieces of your social media marketing to save you time without sacrificing your authenticity and looking like a robot.

Using your Facebook Personal Profile Improperly

You might think the only reason you’re using Facebook is to promote your business, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use the Personal Profile to talk about your business. Facebook doesn’t like it when you do this and you could be putting your presence at risk.

Absolutely it is ok to talk about your business on your personal profile. Facebook just doesn’t want your personal profile to be ONLY about your business. That’s why they gave us Business Pages and Groups. If you do too much business on your Profile you might get a warning from Facebook saying if you don’t convert to a Business Page you will be shut down. Yes, this does actually happen, I have seen it myself a few times.

The proper way to do business on Facebook is to post on your Business Page and then share to your Personal Profile. A business Page will also give you access to things a Profile does not:

  • Insights / metrics / analytics
  • Advertising
  • Ability to share admin rights with staff/agencies
  • Ability to keep your personal and professional separate without having two Facebook accounts (another no-no in Facebook’s eyes).

Building your Entire Online Presence on Rented Land

Recently a lot of small businesses had a scare when Facebook and Instagram experienced an outage that lasted over six hours and took a few days to recover from fully. While social media marketing is essential to most small businesses, it’s really imperative to have other ways of talking to your audience. And it’s essential to have these backups in place before you actually need them! Consider finding time now to plan for the next #FacebookDown before it happens.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates so it’s easy to understand how mistakes can happen. It’s time-consuming to keep up with all the changes to social media. The good news is you can easily avoid most of these social media marketing mistakes small businesses make with a little planning and the occasional social media audit!

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