One of the biggest tools at the disposal of any small business is social media.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of small businesses struggling with their social media profile.
Usually, they’re well-intentioned and don’t understand what they’re missing.
Based on what I’ve seen in the industry, here are six reasons why small business social media fails.
Reason #1: Inconsistency
The first reason is inconsistency. That can turn up in a number of ways. The biggest one is usually that a small business gets really enthusiastic about social media or has a team member willing to take it on, then that team member leaves or the enthusiasm changes.
I get it. When you’re busy, it’s hard to make social media a priority. Oftentimes, it’s the first thing to fall by the wayside.
You’ve probably heard it before but make a plan. Schedule out your content so that even when work is busy, you have something going out automatically. Take a look at how a big brand like Coca-Cola does it. They have a really consistent idea for their Instagram. Their audience knows what to expect.
Another way that inconsistency can turn up is with the content you’re posting. If you post tons of new events and then suddenly stop to share articles instead, that’s like a bait and switch. Your audience is following you because they expect a certain kind of content. Now, that doesn’t mean you should only post one thing all the time. Just make sure you’re always providing what your audience wants to see.
The last way inconsistency shows up, will hopefully never happen to you. However, I’ve seen it far too many times. Make sure you know who has access to your social media and that there’s a plan in place should someone with access leave the company. I’ve seen too many clients come to me wanting a social media account when one already exists, and they just don’t have the password anymore. Don’t lose the audience you built over time. Getting those people to find you again with a new username is going to be an uphill battle. Stay consistent with your profile.
Reason #2: Not following the rules of the platform
It might seem like a basic principle but I’ve definitely seen small businesses fail on social media because they aren’t following the rules of the platform they’re posting on.
I can’t even believe we’re still seeing this but don’t have a personal page for your business on Facebook. Make sure it’s a business page. At any point, Facebook has the right to ask for proof of identification on a personal page. Since your driver’s license is going to say your name and not a business name, they can shut down the entire profile. You’ll lose all of those connections. You have so many more features as a business anyway. It’d be silly not to use those to your advantage.
The rules aren’t just the basics of how to properly set up an account though. There are also etiquette rules involved with each platform. For instance, don’t add links to your captions on Instagram, unless they’re easy to type in, because they aren’t clickable. Instead, you can do something like what Etsy does. They have a link in their bio that provides the shopping links to the various items they feature on their Instagram. Etsy built the page directly on their website but there are plenty of tools that will help you have an Instagram link landing page.
Keep in mind that the rules change. Social media platforms are constantly updating. Do your best to stay up-to-date and learn as much as you can about each platform that you’re on if you want to succeed. Some small businesses think that learning about social media is just for big businesses or marketing firms. It should be a part of a small-scale strategy as well.
Reason #3: Not engaging with your audience
Getting consistent, rule-abiding content is the hard part. Once that’s done, a lot of small businesses breathe a sigh of relief and decide they don’t need to think about social media anymore.
Unfortunately, that’s just not true. Social media is increasingly an extension of your customer service. If someone emailed your company a question, you’d want to respond. The same applies for comments and messages.
Even if a comment is something basic like saying, “Yummy” on a picture of food, a response like, “We hope you can try it out sometime,” helps to foster good feelings.
When you’re a small business, your community is more important than ever. Your audience might be able to get what you’re selling on Amazon for cheaper. The way that you can stand out from a giant like Amazon is by making direct connections with your customers. They want to feel important and like they know you. Engage with your audience. Don’t let things go ignored.
It’s especially important for damage control. Leaving a comment sitting out there from an upset customer is not only a bad way to treat the commenter, it also shows others viewing your page that this comment has been unaddressed. They might start to believe the negativity too. A positive response makes a huge difference.
Reason #4: Not having a plan or any research to back one up
We talked about the importance of a plan to avoid inconsistency. It’s also important to have a general social media plan backed by some research.
Even as a small business, you should know your target audience. Do some research on what platforms that demographic uses the most. Why would you ever spend time on a TikTok account if your audience is high-level CEOs?
Ask customers or clients that you currently work with what platforms they use and cross-reference that with data from sites like PewResearch or Statista. There’s plenty of research already done out there for you. Don’t invest your time and money into something that won’t make you money in the long run. If you do your research, you can figure out what will work best for your audience.
Let’s look at Apple for instance. They make and sell products, but if you look through their Instagram feed, they hardly ever show any of these products. Alternatively, their Facebook page is filled with products. They probably have research to back up that policy and you can start doing some research too.
Reason #5: Expecting people to find your page organically
Some small businesses take the “if you build it, they will come” approach to social media. They expect that people will just find their profile organically. In reality, that’s rarely how it happens.
You have to encourage people who come into your business, read your emails, visit your website, or otherwise engage with you to also check out your various social media profiles. Add your social icons to your business card and your email signature.
If a company as ubiquitous as Starbucks still includes all their social media icons at the bottom of their website, small businesses should definitely do it too.
If you’re still struggling to get followers and likes after all of that, you might need to consider investing some capital. Social media is a great free tool, but at the end of the day, Facebook cares more about their own bottom line than yours. Sometimes you have to put a bit of money into Facebook or Instagram ads to get the most out of your social media profile.
It doesn’t have to be a lot at first. Just test out a $50 boost and see how it does. Then you can start testing more campaign styles and price points until you’re happy with how your page is performing.
Reason #6: Not using the tools available to you
Like we said earlier, you should learn as much about the platforms as you can. Part of that means learning more about the various tools each platform gives you. If you haven’t checked your Facebook Insights in a while, now is a good time to click around in there. If you’re wanting to schedule content on Instagram, why not try out Facebook’s Creator Studio? For B2B, have you thought about using LinkedIn messaging ads?
The more you learn about the tools each social media platform offers the better off you’ll be. You’ll be able to do cool things that help your business stand out from the competition, you’ll understand what your audience wants to see more of, and you’ll be able to innovate when you need to.
Facebook usually lets you know when new tools are available for you to try. Pay attention to those pop-ups at the top of your page or the notifications that you get from platforms. You can learn a lot by just paying attention.
Don’t let your small business social media fail
Overall, being a small business doesn’t mean that you get to ignore all the intricacies of social media. There are plenty of free tools and information available to you. If you put in some work ahead of time, you will be much more successful in the long term.