When the private sector realized the marketing potential that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others hold, there was a veritable mad dash among the bix bog stores to establish their brands in this new sphere of advertising. However, the Wild West of social media marketing created just as many failures as it did successes, and even today, business large and small continue to make missteps that set them back light-years in the age of the conscientious consumer.
Retail giants might have the ability to weather a hit to their public reputations, but the margin for error is almost microscopic for small businesses. Still, it’s important to give social media the old college try, even if you’re new to the concept. As long as you avoid a few common errors that newcomers to the social media marketing game often find themselves committing, you’ll be waking up every day to more likes on your statuses and enough retweets to paper the walls of your store.
Don’t just sell
This might seem counterintuitive at first, but SmallBizTrends.com explained that businesses that use every single tweet or Facebook post to push a product end up looking hollow and superficial. Just think about it: If customers want to buy your products or services, they’ll contact you. But if you’re pushing messages to their smartphones, tablets and computers, constant sales pitches can lead to burnout among your consumers.
Instead, the source recommended using the majority of your social media activity establishing relationships with your customers. Engage them in discussions about your industry or products and, when the time is right, give them a gentle push in the right direction with a subtle link to your relevant product pages.
Monitor who’s talking about you
Because social media marketing is all about humanizing your brand in the eyes of your consumers, you also need to be aware of what other people or businesses are saying about you, Quickbooks explained. In fact, Mike Brown, founder of consultancy firm The Brainzooming Group, told the source that if you’re not checking up on the buzz surrounding your brand, you’re letting someone else tell your story.
“There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story,” Brown said. “If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.”
Take some risks
Even though there are a million ways you can hurt your brand while flailing away on social media platforms, American Express explained that simply following the crowd and playing it safe like your competitors isn’t likely to land you any kind of great success. Instead, you need to take some risks to break through the considerable amount of white noise on social media sites.
Rather than going for shock value, American Express encouraged small businesses to take a step back and analyze what their competitors are doing and if those strategies are working. If so, try to tweak them so you’re not just blatantly copying another brand. If you see another business making gaffe after gaffe in their social media campaign, don’t just laugh – understand why it’s not working so you don’t make the same mistakes.
If this all seems like a little much to take in as you start to conceive of a digital marketing strategy, just remember the Grandma rule: If you wouldn’t say it to her, don’t say it to your customers on social media.