Social media changes all the time and keeping up is hard. What’s even trickier is working out what you REALLY should be doing with so much conflicting advice. Here’s 5 social media myths I’ve repeatedly experienced small businesses practising which are hugely detrimental to their presence on social media.
Myth 1: All You Need Is Lots Of Followers
If you tend to look favourably on accounts with high numbers, possibly even comparing yourself against them and feeling inadequate STOP THIS NOW. High numbers on social media does not equate to popularity, greater reach or success. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to grow your followers BUT this should happen at a steady pace and more importantly with followers who are actually going to add value and buy from you.
The danger: you’ll be focussing on collecting followers rather than connecting with them. The bigger your following the harder it is to get engagement which can then negatively impact your account’s algorithm. The way you acquire your followers is important, NEVER buy them and ideally don’t run a competition forcing people to follow your account or like your page to enter because ultimately most want to win the prize, not follow you. The ‘wrong’ followers will render your audience insights useless and if you run paid ads you’re in danger of wasting money advertising to an audience who isn’t interested.
What you should do: focus on quality over quantity! It’s better to have just 40 followers who react to your posts, share your content and talk about you on and offline and buy from you than 4000 who do nothing at all. Build your following steadily to help combat the ‘algorithm gremlins’ and if you run competitions ask yourself whether a ‘follow to enter’ is really necessary.
Myth 2: The More Platforms The Better
Having a presence on all the major platforms is going to make sure you reach as many potential customers as possible, right? Not necessarily. Yes, you need to be where your audience are but even if they are on every platform (unlikely in itself) as a small business strapped for time and without a dedicated social media team, more platforms will not mean more success.
The danger: if you’re everywhere you can’t ‘be’ anywhere well, you’ll spread yourself too thin and do an average job on them all. This in turn will mean a lack of return for you and increased frustration.
What you should do: really nail one platform, two as a maximum. This is perfectly acceptable as a small business and I would suggest focussing on one before moving to another. How you pick the platforms needs to be a balance between where your audience are and which platforms you enjoy. If your audience are on Facebook but you detest the platform this will show, you’ll lose interest and grow disheartened.
Myth 3: Post Every Day, More If Your Engagement Is Low
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read articles and heard experts advocate this one. If you’ve got lots of great content and the time then go for it but for the majority of small businesses this isn’t the case. Posting content is a way to showcase what you do and keep yourself top of your followers’ minds but this is only going to be the case if it’s seen AND responded to.
The danger: you’ll be panic posting! Doing the whole, ‘I haven’t posted today, I need to post, what shall I post, oh this will do!’ thing and posting for the sake of posting. There will be nothing intentional or thought out about your post, it will just be a tick box exercise likely to lack the engagement you’re hoping for. This in turn affects how the algorithm views the quality of your account and may well ‘downgrade’ it.
What you should do: plan your content. Take some time to check your analytics, work out what posts your audience respond to and don’t stop producing these. Consider your goal from being on social and check that you’re producing content relating to this (but which isn’t predominantly salesy, see Myth 5 for more on this). Next be honest about how much time you have to post. You should be posting in a way that encourages a reaction/action from your audience and this takes more than a couple of minutes. Posting less frequently might actually reap you more rewards. Remember too there are formats better suited to frequent, quick posts such as Instagram Stories and Twitter.
Myth 4: Create One Post And Share It To Your Other Platforms
You might feel you’re saving yourself time and effort doing this but cross posting in the long run can be damaging to your efforts.
The danger: sharing a post to your other platforms is a bit like watching 3 television screens showing you exactly the same thing at the same time - pretty pointless. Your audience only needs to follow you on one platform and duplicated content is annoying and spammy.
What you should do: in an ideal world you should create different content for each platform BUT as a time pressured small business this is easier said than done. If you have to share content across your platforms don’t publish it at the same time and most importantly edit the text of the post to suit the platform. For example sending an Instagram post to Facebook with heaps of hashtags is unsightly and any tagged accounts aren’t clickable on Facebook.
Myth 5: Selling On Social Media Is Just About Pushing Your Product/Service
If only it was this simple! No one logs into their social media accounts to be sold to; we’re simply not looking for your latest ad or sales call. I’m not saying you can’t make sales via social media, you can, but it’s based on developing relationships and building trust.
The danger: constant selling is an absolute turn off and will actually result in the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. In fact I often find this is the biggest reason why many businesses say ‘social media doesn’t work’.
What you should do: understand what your audience are seeking when they log in to their social accounts; entertainment, inspiration, to learn something new, to have a laugh etc. and create your content around this. Even more fundamentally important is to focus on the ‘social’ in social media and talk to your followers as if you were trying to make friends not extract money from them. Value your audience, show you care, build relationships just like you would if you met them ‘in real life’, don’t lose sight of the person behind the technology. Stick to an 80:20 rule, 20% of your content should be a sales call, the other 80% is a mix of content which adds value, builds your brand and connects with your followers.
With these myths debunked you’re on the road to social media success; focus too on quality over quantity and ‘being human’ and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.