Depending on the generation you’re from, social media is either a second language to you, or something you’re still getting the hang of. If it’s the former, you probably don’t need the advice in this article. However, even the savviest of entrepreneurs are often so busy with the countless details of starting and running a business, they forget to give social media the attention it requires.
Here are five of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make on social media, and how to fix them:
Let’s not forget that the Internet has a long memory. When you create a social media account for your business, it’s like showing up to a party. If you then stop tweeting or posting, it’s like hanging out in a dark corner of the party where nobody can see you, or worse, taking off out the back door without anyone realizing it. “An abandoned account suggests that you're out of business—an account that hasn't been updated in months looks abandoned—and an account that gets updated sporadically isn't likely to build an audience with any speed,” Leona Laurie, social media strategist and trainer tells YouInc. Laurie recommends that entrepreneurs create a strict editorial schedule for posting social updates “for the first six months or so, then loosen the structure once they're in the flow.” But don’t loosen it so much that you go back to your empty virtual storefront again. Stay engaged.
Forgetting Your Audience
It’s easy to forget that you’re talking to people when you send out an update via your phone from your office. Posting a few Instagram photos and calling it done isn’t going to be any use if your audience is over on Twitter. Laurie recommends you do your research to find out which platforms your audience is likely to be on. “The Pew Research Center is always releasing reports on who's using social media and how. If you know who your target audience is, making sure you're using social media in a way that will effectively connect with them is going to give you your best ROI [return on investment].”
Alan Jude Ryland, a social media consultant, and news editor for the publication Second Nexus, stresses this point. “Companies should be able to analyze how their target audience composes tweets and other messages on social media and strive to mimic that style. Having extensive knowledge of consumer habits—including when people share and why they share what they share—is imperative to a successful social media marketing plan.”
Forgetting Your Competition
Once you wade into the waters of social media, you will soon discover you’re not the only boat in the sea; you’re one of countless other businesses attempting to draw customers to their shiny Internet presence. If you only focus on your own offerings and forget about your competition, you miss an opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes. “If your company finds that their competitor is not creating a dialogue with its readership, then the competition will be gob-smacked if you come up with what they're still trying to refine,” says Ryland. In essence, you can win over the competition’s customers by taking advantage of their social media blind spots.
Treating Social Media As A Stand-alone
If you’re a year into your business and you suddenly decide to get on social media, you may find it more of a challenge than you expected to work into existing strategies. That’s because, according to Laurie, “Social media should be wrapped into your marketing and communications strategies.” Social media should be a major part of your sales, customer outreach and brand marketing. “Social media needs to be integrated into the whole.” And that means it needs to go into your vision and business plan from the beginning. If you’re already knee deep into business and just getting on the social media bandwagon, you may need to revisit your entire marketing strategy in order to be cohesive.
Dumping the Work on the Youngest Person on the Team
Making assumptions about a person’s age and skillset can work against you when it comes to social media. “Young people may be digital natives, but they rarely have the sophistication to use social media strategically without a lot of guidance and supervision,” says Laurie. Just because they know how to tweet about their favorite shows doesn't mean they're qualified to craft brand-strategic posts that say what you want to say.
Dumping social media on the youngest people in the company also has another negative effect on staffing in general. “Companies that have not evaluated their staff, skills and experience, including finding the passionate people who understand what they are doing, fail to encourage participation and growth among their in-house talent.
No matter how you go about your social media strategy, remember that social media draws on resources, says Laurie. “If you're an entrepreneur you should be judicious in how you allocate your time, energy and money, so investing any in social media that isn't aligned with your objectives or audience is wasteful.”
If you’re making one or more of these mistakes, don’t worry; it’s never too late to adapt.