It starts off innocently enough. Let’s say you have a brand-new coffee shop, and you are super proud of it, as you should be. You know you need a Facebook page to promote it, so away you go, setting up your business page and inviting your friends to like it.
A handful of friends take the bait, and pretty soon you’ve got 50 fans. You are diligent about posting daily status updates, and people like them. Your “Come on down to the shop today and mention our Facebook page to get a free cup of coffee!” earned 33 likes and 14 shares. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself.
And then, it happens. Suddenly, without warning it seems, your little Facebook page has exactly zero engagement, even on days when you remember to post an update. If you listen closely, you will hear crickets.
What happened? It isn’t just the frantic pace of entrepreneurship that causes business Facebook pages to sink into oblivion. If you’re making one or more of these social media mistakes as a small-business owner, the sooner you fix them, the better:
1. You’re too self-promoting. The occasional self-promotion on Facebook is acceptable. When your self-promoting posts become too frequent, however, you will begin to lose your audience. If the only thing they ever see when they visit your page (if they visit at all) or see you in their newsfeeds (if you even appear there) is a bunch of posts about you, your offers and your general awesomeness, they will lose interest at best and shun you at worst.
Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine your favorite restaurant, for example. Would you rather see a post that shows the recipe for one of your favorite dishes that they make — or a post about how amazing the food is, how superior they are to everyone else and how no one does it better than they do? More than likely, the recipe will cause you to read, click and share. The self-promotion will cause you to ignore, click away, perhaps even roll your eyes and stop following the page.
2. You’re not on social media at all. In stark contrast to #1, this one means you don’t have any social media accounts. If people try to find you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you’re not there. If it weren’t for your other marketing efforts, like direct mail, no one would know you exist.
When you can begin to see that social media accounts are not a substitute for your other forms of marketing, but rather a supplement to them, then you can realize the power of social media and tying together various campaigns. A fancy way of putting it is that you can use multichannel marketing to your advantage — marketing yourself in different mediums such as direct mail, email, in-store advertising and blogging, and cross-promoting your social pages, website and so forth. More simply, you can reach more people if you have more ways to reach them. And unless you include social media in that mix, you risk getting left behind by your competitors, who are already on social media and increasing their customer base every day because of it.
3. You’re not posting enough. When you first create a business Facebook page, you will post things frequently, but when you have bookkeeping to tend to, vendors to call and meetings to make, the Facebook page will be one of the first things to fall by the wayside. The result is often a thin-looking page that makes users question whether you’re even in business.
People are already checking out your business online in social platforms when deciding whether to do business with you. If they see a robust social presence with lots of engagement, they will have more confidence in the business. It could be the push they need to pick up the phone, stop by your store, make a purchase or make an appointment. On the other hand, if they see a quiet social presence, they will go looking for a business that seems more trustworthy, up to date and capable of delivering a positive customer experience.
4. You’re posting too much. Just as you don’t enjoy reading a play by play of what your personal friends do all day long — from the moment their eyes open to the moment they turn off the lights at night (and sometimes even in the middle of the night, when they’ve developed a case of insomnia) — your audience doesn’t need to hear from you throughout the day.
Once or twice a day is reasonable. Beyond that, it becomes either white noise or just annoying. As the saying goes, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”
5. You’re not promoting your posts. For as little as a couple bucks per day, you can pay for individual posts to be seen in more of your fans’ newsfeeds. This is not to say you should promote every post; on the contrary, only promote the posts that are performing well. Use your Page Insights on Facebook to learn which posts are getting the most engagement from your audience.
Promoting your posts this way increases the likelihood that you’ll reach a larger number of people outside your current fan base. As more of your fans like and share your promoted posts and/or buy any special offers you create, their friends will see the posts and begin to build trust in your company as well. Over time, the viral effect of promoted posts will boost your likes and encourage more and more people to buy from you. To learn more about promoted posts, click here for Facebook’s Promoted Posts Basics.
Making time for social media, and doing it right, is no longer a “nice to have” for small businesses. The better engaged you are in social platforms, and the more you can “get it right,” the more you will build credibility, trust and profits — and the better prepared you will be for other emerging technologies.