Most people know that social media can help you find new clients and engage existing customers. What they don’t always know is how business accounts should approach the platforms. There are many social media platforms out there and learning how to leverage each platform is the most difficult part.
While a social slip up can misrepresent your business, the benefits greatly outweigh the potential risks. It’s official, social media marketing is here to stay. Whether you are looking to get started with social media marketing or master a specific platform, follow these do’s and don’ts that any small business can benefit from.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media for Small Businesses
Do: Know Your Audience:
Your social media pages should be personalized to your user base. Post stories that they can relate to. For example, if you work at a bakery; post recipes and tricks of the trade.
Do: Set (and understand) your goals for metrics and traffic:
Sure, vanity metrics are great in the short term, but if those retweets aren’t increasing your traffic or broadening your customer base, what good are they? Your business should have specific, definable goals such as increasing traffic to your website. Sprout Social has a good list of metrics to track to get started.
-Jeff Bumbales | Marketing Director, Credibly | www.credibly.com
Don’t: Delete Negative Comments:
These days it’s rare to be a business owner that hasn’t received any negative feedback on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. but while your instinct might be to remove those comments, you are better off leaving it. The customer is always right – even if they are wrong. Responding to an apology and solution is the best approach to negative feedback.
-Kallee Raisor | Traffic Digital Media | www.trafficdigitalagency.com
Do: Use it for more than just marketing:
Social media these days has spread far beyond simple marketing – you can use it to manage customer relationships, promote your products and services, answer customer service-related questions, and even do market research on similar businesses to see what customers respond well to. Remember to use your social media as a multifaceted tool for business improvement and not just an empty marketing method; Harvard Business Review has more information on how.
-Stephanie Mladenoski | Marketing Associate, Credibly | www.credibly.com
Don’t: Rely on just automation:
Depending on social media automation tools can put you in the jeopardy of ruining your social media presence. You don’t want to lose your personal touch with customers if it sounds like a computer is speaking to them.
-Tim Allen | Traffic Digital Media | www.trafficdigitalagency.com
Do: Pay attention to new tools, features, and product implementations
To save time online, I actually recommend spending more time learning the platforms. If you want to create quick funny videos and meme for your Instagram page, look at platforms like Musical.ly that natively builds that type of content. You build two audiences at the same time. Need new leads for your business? Learn Twitter’s advanced search and have it constantly running for you.
Finally, pay attention to new features on platforms. Whenever a platform launches a new feature, that feature is promoted more in the platforms respected algorithm. Being an early mover will generate you more results. For instance, Linkedin launched its video feature, be an early mover like Goldie Chan and get promoted heavily by the platform.
-Austin Luliano | http://Austiniuliano.com
Do: Pair Tweets with GIFs
Pair your tweets with GIFs or other images. Doing so showcases your personality and has been proven to increase engagement by about 50%.
-Deborah Sweeney | CEO, My Corporation | MyCorporation.com
Do: Customize repurposed posts
- Take a minute to customize any articles or posts that you are re-sharing with your audience with your point of view
- Don’t only use stock photos – your followers are looking to hear from you even if it means light editing or using a third-party service like Canva
-Aalap Shah | Partner & Co-Founder SoMe | www.someconnect.com
Do: Research SEO and How each Platform uses Keywords
Most small businesses look at SEO after they’ve had their website for a while, and almost never consider optimization for their social media pages.
Many don’t realize that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all of the social media platforms have their own internal search engines. People search for what they’re interested in from inside each platform. This means that keyword research, and the choice of keywords in the titles, URLs, bios, and descriptions on company pages are really important.
If you look at all of your online search optimizations, you can do keyword research and optimize once. Then you’ll benefit from organic social media platform search traffic permanently.
-Jason Lavis | Managing Director, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd. | www.ootbinnovations.com
Do: Engage effectively, post frequently and celebrate your customers
- Do engage and be open to inserting personality into your posts & responses – less robotic, more human voices
- Do use hashtags effectively
- Do post consistently
- Do tell stories & share customer experiences (with their permission) as part of your story.
Don’t: Promote Sales & Ignore Interactions
- Don’t always promote your sales
- Don’t ignore customer comments & posts on your profiles
-Jake Thompson | Chief Encouragement Officer, Compete Every Day | www.competeeveryday.com
Do: Publish all reviews
About 90% of consumers trust reviews, yet only about 50% of businesses make use of them.Small businesses can attract more customers with online reviews, which not only provide influence and social proof, they also have an impact on local search results and conversion. Any small business that wants to get a jump on the competition should develop a strategy for online reviews. But to effectively do so, you have to manage, not just monitor.
-Mark Nicholson | VP. Marketing, Nice Job | https://get.nicejob.co
Do: Create an interactive experience
- Engage with customers by not only liking their comments but by direct messaging them and commenting/liking their pictures
- Always, always, always post pictures on social media. Priority should be in this order: Videos, Pictures, Links, Text.
-Vincit-Lee Lloyd | CEO, Lloyd Media Solutions | www.lloydmediasolutions.com
Don’t: Sacrifice Quality over Quantity
- Focus on quality over quantity Instead, select two or three key platforms to be present on depending on your target audience, product/service, and your in-house resources. Invest your efforts in these channels for better results.
- Build conversations.Social media is about being social. Don’t think of it as a sales platform. You should focus on sharing high-quality content and building meaningful conversations with your followers.
- Use hashtags to start big discussions and build a community, allowing people to simply search the hashtag to discover all the related content. Hashtags can be used across all of your social channels so the conversation can reach even further.
- Make use of polls.Polls are growing in popularity across social platforms, so business should get in on the action. A poll is a great way to conduct fun customer research as well as offering an interactive piece of content that people will be interested in. Remember to keep things as simple as possible: people will be more likely to take part if they don’t have to think too hard.
-Amy Kilvington | Social Media Manager, Blinds Direct | www.blindsdirect.co.uk
Do: Effectively Grow Your Follower Base
The best way to maximize your investment in a social media presence is to generate a consistent follower-base. As a result, I recommend the following steps to grow your follower-base:
- Build compelling profiles – image, cover photos, description
- Create content consistently – compelling, unique, relevant
- Amplify reach – optimize, syndicate and measure
- Expand your network – leverage tools to identify and connect
- Be generous – share valuable content, say thank you to your fans
- Expedite the growth curve – utilize advertising/sponsored posts to increase reach
-Kent Lewis | President & Founder, Anvil Media | www.anvilmedia.com
Do: Share a variety of content and media
- Do publish content on social media channels when people are more likely to see it.
- Do share content from other websites. If you share other people’s content, they’ll share yours.
- Do publish high-quality images and videos. They’re much more popular than text.
- Do reach out to influencers in your field.
- Do add calls to action to your posts.
Don’t: Cross the line
- Don’t buy Facebook Likes. Try to gain them organically.
- Don’t spam StumbleUpon with your content or they’ll “ghost ban” your website.
- Don’t talk politics.
- Don’t disrespect a follower or client on social media.
- Don’t start a social media advertising campaign at night, when everybody is asleep.
-Gregory Golinski | Digital Marketing Executive, Your Parking Space | www.yourparkingspace.co.uk
Do: Start the conversation
- Post icebreakers on your online profiles on a regular basis to increase engagement. Asking your audience what book they are reading is a good way to start a conversation. Another post that almost always starts a conversation is to ask your audience about their own projects. People love to talk about their projects
- Start a Facebook group for your customers. Many times your customers know your business more than you. They can not only help others they become brand ambassadors for you as well.
Don’t: Overdo it
- Don’t let your profile be a channel that floods your follower’s timeline with your promotions. Provide value and that too in the right amount. If you are posting too little then you are losing business and if you are posting too much you are losing business too. You need to post the right amount of posts. Mix your promotions in there in a moderate amount so that your followers do not feel over-marketed.
-Dinesh Agarwal | CEO, Recurpost | www.recurpost.com
Do: Offer value for every post
- Only self-promote once every four or five posts- use the others to benefit your followers.This will keep readers more likely to be engaged. Discounts and special offers are always great.
Don’t: Ignore a bad review, solve the problem if possible
- Don’t ignore a bad comment or review. Respond promptly and politely- even if you completely disagree with what was written about your business.If it can be resolved easily, do so.
- If it seems more complicated, then post a statement saying you would welcome the opportunity to discuss the situation off-line, where you will do your best to address and resolve it with a positive outcome.
-Ed Katz | Managing Principal, Katnip Marketing LLC | www.katnipmarketing.com
Do: Be present & current
The biggest mistake that I see businesses making is creating profiles and then not updating them
-Stacy Erickson Edwards | Founder, Homekey
Do: Get involved in the Community
Be involved in your local neighborhood Facebook Groups and Next Door communities. This will help you build relationships with your local customer base.
-Tabitha Challis | Social Media Manager, ProfileSpr | www.profilespr.com
Don’t: Forget to check and double-check
- Don’t start and stop your social media publishing schedule — The only thing that looks worse than not being on a social media channel that your company needs to be? Publishing for a few weeks or few months, giving up, and letting the profile sit dormant for weeks, months, or years. Abandoning ship is usually screaming “out of business” — not exactly the image you’re likely after.
- Don’t confuse personal and company social media profiles and pages — Most small businesses should have separate profiles for their employees and their companies. All too often, small businesses will confuse the two: linking their website homepage to their owner’s personal LinkedIn profile or using a Facebook profile instead of a Facebook business page.
- Don’t spam your LinkedIn connections — All too often, people make the faux pas of exporting their LinkedIn connections to a spreadsheet and importing that list into their email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation (MA) software. When you add someone to a list where there’s no permission, you’re burning goodwill incredibly fast, likely to trigger spam complaints that cause long-term harm to your email sender reputation, risk getting cut off by your ESP or MA software vendor, get disconnected from and blocked on LinkedIn, and even risk financial fines from your ESP or MA software vendor, government entities, or civil actions.
- Don’t forget to check where your social media icons link to from your home page — While it’s ideal for your social media icons to open a new browser tab, so you can keep your website, visitors around longer, make sure your social media icons actually lead to your profiles — and not just Twitter.com or Facebook.com
-Joshua Feinberg | Chief Thought Leader, VP & Co-Founder, SP Home Run Inc. | www.sphomerun.com
Do: Put some thought into it
- Do take some time every day to speak to people in your industry and show you’re real and actually interested
- Do pay attention to stats, track what times and days you get the best results, as well as what type of posts get the best results, it’s simple, do more of what people want at the times they want it.
- Do make use of lists on Twitter, they help to organize everything and make targeting your activities a breeze.
Don’t: Be repetitive
- Don’t post the same exact posts on all social media. It’s tempting to do and a timesaver, but try changing the posts at least slightly for each social media channel so each post suits the channel it’s posted to.
- Don’t just copy your competitors. It’s fine to take some of their tactics, especially if they are successful, but you will need to show how you are different by being different.
- Don’t treat social media as an add-on, it can be an essential part of making a client feel special and getting feedback
-Tosin Yussuf | Marketing Manager, Linkilaw | www.linkilaw.com
Do: Keep up to date with the latest trends
- Optimize your social channels by following guidelines for things like the size of profile photos and the inclusion of contact info as well as links to your site. A hastily thrown together or neglected social channel will not reflect well on your business, even if you’re really good at what you do.
- Stay up to date on best practices for posting on each channel. What worked for Facebook in 2015 may actually hurt your business now. For example, things like “engagement-baiting” where you specifically ask your followers to like or share a post were very popular and successful techniques a few years ago. Facebook’s algorithms have recently shifted to punish such techniques and will bury your posts if they deem your content to be overly spammy. So focus on providing valuable, helpful, easy to digest content and sparking sincere conversations.
- Don’t treat your social media posts like you would an advertisement. Most people shut out overly-promotional pages. We try to follow an 80/20 rule for our clients where, say, out of every 10 tweets we send, maybe two of them will be for promoting our page and product directly. The other 8 are engaging with influencers, sharing the posts of other non-competing accounts, having conversations with our followers, and providing helpful tips or inspiring content that will be more likely to foster organic retweets.
-Jason Myers | Senior Account Executive, The Content Factory| www.contentfac.com
Do: Get the most out of your content
- When posting, be sure to have more than half of your posts in a conversational tone with promotional ads in between.
- Try to ask interesting opinion questions to spark a conversation within the commenting section on the post. This will help you build an online community within your following,
- To get the most out of your posts make them visual by including a relevant picture or a video. This will help bring those dull posts to life and engage your audience!
-Dylan Peters | PR Coordinator, JAM Paper & Envelope | www.jampaper.com
Last but not least – Don’t: Be Spammy:
You need to be careful with how much content you dole out, and when. Nobody wants to see their timelines clogged up with six posts from the same restaurant, no matter how interesting you think they might be. Learn to pace yourself and try to understand what works best for each platform you’re using; Adam Houlahan recommends only posting to Facebook between 3-10 times per week, whereas Twitter can be posted to up to fifteen times per day. Switching up the messaging on each platform to better fit how posts are displayed and delivered is also a great call for avoiding stale, repetitious messages that don’t fit the medium.
-Stephanie Mladenoski | Marketing Associate, Credibly | www.credibly.com