So, you've finally started to chase your dream. It could be your pet photography business. Your vegan shoe company. Your toupee laundering service.
Great! Your commitment, experience, and imagination will put you over the top.
The problem: you can barely keep yourself housed and fed with Kraft Dinner and pizza slices. You've got no cash to hire a PR person or make any big media buys.
In social media, the best kind of advertising occurs when the consumer doesn't know they’re being sold to.
The potential solution: You turn to social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It's free, you already use it, and your friends love the videos of pandas hugging kittens that you post.
What can go wrong? Plenty, if you're doing any of the following 5 Don'ts of Social Media Promotion.
Don't #1: You're always selling.
"Check out this amazing sale!" you blare in your posts. "We offer the best prices in the city!" You sound like a used car salesperson as you bombard your followers and friends with these posts, and they un-follow you in droves. Why?
Because those tactics fit better with old media. In social media, the best kind of advertising occurs when the consumer doesn't know they’re being sold to. They want to be first inspired and entertained before they buy.
Offer instead a tip about something related to your business. Or respond to one of your follower's posts. That way you're starting a conversation rather than pitching them a product
Don't #2: You only post text.
Your posts are press releases dumped online. The only image you post is of the company logo.
Social media posts are consumed on phones and tablets. Words are important, but what is just as useful is a timely Instagram image or YouTube link that can generate goodwill.
Don't #3: You're bragging.
"We're really humbled by our latest Yelp review," you post, quoting the best part of the customer's praise. It's not like you need to dump on your own products or services, but sharing your accolades needs to be done with a touch of self-awareness. And no, that doesn't mean false modesty!
Instead: When sharing good news about a reader's choice award, thank the people who voted for your business on the online poll. When you’re featured in a popular blog, thank the editors and try to deflect some of that praise back to them.
Don't #4: You don't interact.
You talk about your product and then nothing else. Like a job you hate, you punch in and punch out. The tone in your posts is humourless.
Instead: Build a relationship with your followers. If you own a tea shop, ask your customers to name the newest blend. If a customer at your diner posts a request to bring back the rib sandwich, ask him to get 1,000 likes for his post. Make your social media feed a conversation with your followers.
Don't #5: You don't do your homework.
You don't follow other businesses or brands out of a desire to be "one of a kind." Instead your posts are uninspired and unconsciously derivative.
Instead: Study the social media feeds that work, the ones that generate buzz and impress followers with their creativity. Learn what makes their feeds authentic and organic and try to create your own spin on that approach.