For small business owners, social media is crucial for brand awareness and to create a user base. People are more apt to search for brands on social, than they are to go directly to their website. Social media is also a great tool to funnel foot traffic to your business (whether it's online or brick and mortar). Here are the top practices to avoid when it comes to social media.
1.) Going on every platform
As a small business owner, you may understand the need for social media for your business. That doesn't necessarily mean to go out on every platform, and then get frustrated because it's not generating sales or awareness of your brand. Go where your audience is and where people are searching for you.
How do you find your audience? Check through each platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Youtube, etc..) and search for your business. See if people are already posting about your brand to determine where you should go. If you’re a restaurant, Facebook and Instagram may be best. If your selling a product, maybe Facebook and Twitter. If you’re retail, Facebook, Yelp, and Instagram could be the platforms you choose. Knowing your audience is a huge part of social media.
You may need to go on more than one platform, but if you're just starting out, doing a slow roll out will help you get the hang of social. Start on one platform for a couple months before rolling out additional platforms. Not only is it easier to manage, but you can see what's working and what isn't. You can roll out faster if you have a dedicated social media specialist.
The other thing to think about when you roll out more than one platform is to differentiate your content. If you're posting the exact same post on both Facebook and Instagram, it could hinder your growth. For example, Facebook and Instagram have two huge different demographics and people interact with content differently per platform. This is also why starting out, it's better to focus on one platform and do it well than doing all platforms poorly.
2.) Posting bad photos to Instagram
Instagram leads with photos. It's the base of the platform. There are a lot of other ways you can boost an Instagram post (I talk about it in another article), but having excellent photography is key for the platform.
This doesn't mean you have to go out and spend thousands on a professional camera. You can still take great photos with most modern day smartphones. The key is to brush up on some basic photography skills like composition, photo editing, and lighting. You can even encourage your staff to be a part of social content creation and have them follow your brand guidelines.
Another option, because your energy is spent on your business first and foremost, you could hire a social media photographer. Social media photographers are worth the investment and can take a library of photos for you to use. This is also a huge benefit to your business because not only will you get photography that stands out, but you have photos you could use anywhere-on your website, printed materials, mailers, e-blasts, and more. A relatively small investment in photography will only elevate your brand resulting in loyal followers.
3.) Ignoring bad reviews or comments
People use social because they want to connect directly with a brand or business. Ignoring negative feedback can hurt your brand awareness. When you get a bad review or comment, breathe. It's going to be okay. Just remain calm and don't get into a huge flame war that will only kill your business.
It's important to respond to every bad review, especially on Yelp. If the negative feedback is just, see what you can do to remedy it. Know that sometimes there is nothing you can do to get that customer back, but when others see you interacting it'll end up positive in the long run. If the negative feedback has nothing to do with your business, there are steps to report those comments, and you should use your own discretion when responding to those. The importance is to de-escalate the situation rather than off shoot it into a huge troll thread.
Interacting with your audience, positive or negative, is a huge component - it is social media after all.
For small business owners, social media can seem like a huge animal- and it is. There are a ton of best practices and every platform is different. Oh, by the way, they're always changing so staying up to date on trends can be a huge time suck. The key thing is to break it into pieces and scale up. Don’t dive into the deep end all at once, slowly step in and see what works and what doesn't work.
Andrea Abbott is a video producer by day, and by night she is a food blogger for Arizona Bites. The food blog explores flavors of the Sonoran desert across all social platforms. In addition to these two worlds, she also freelances in photography, videography, and video editing. She loves Kpop, playing Beat Saber, and binging Netflix shows with her husband and dog, Emma.