Social media is both a gift and a curse, and the only difference is in how you use it. Today I’m highlighting a few of the social media mistakes bloggers, marketers and other solopreneurs are still making, and how to put them right.
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Not understanding its power (or its limitations)
When I earned my degree in Public Relations back in 1993, the internet was barely a thing, and social media didn’t exist. At the big London agency I found my first entry-level job at, we obsessed over how to get publicity for our products and services, and in particular how to generate ‘buzz’, brand awareness and word-of-mouth recommendations.
We’d have killed for a platform like Facebook, where we could build a community, post funny stories about our brands, or beautiful pictures of our products, and easily persuade our current customers to tell 200 of their closest friends all about us at the click of a button.
Now that platform is available (as are other similar ones like Twitter and Pinterest) and many people still don’t really get how powerful it is. They have a Facebook page for their business but don’t value the people who like it, or give them anything interesting to interact with. They underestimate the platform and don’t work hard enough to build their community, generate buzz around new products or build brand awareness.
On the other hand, some solopreneurs don’t understand the limitations of social media either. They build a Facebook page or group, then expect to be able to sell direct to their community, from social media.
You can make sales on social media , but it still works better as a PR tool rather than a sales tool. And your audience get fed-up very quickly if all your posts are sales pitches.
Social media should be part of your content marketing strategy, not the whole strategy. I talk about why it’s important to drive traffic from your social media platforms to a blog or website in this article.
Trying to do ALL the platforms, all at once
There are a lot of social media (and social media like) options. There are the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. There are more specialist ones like Snapchat, Tumblr and Stumbleupon. And then there are the ‘we’re not a social media platform at all’ ones like Reddit.
They’re all different in style, tone, and audience, AND in the way they work, both from a technological and cultural perspective. Yes, each social media platform has its own ‘culture’. Much like a country or region, you’ll only truly understand if you spend some time there and immerse yourself in the community.
DON’T try and master them all at once. Pick one. Study it. Learn all about it. Hang out there and look around. Read blog posts and articles on it. Buy an ebook or even an online course (I recommend this one for Pinterest and this one for Facebook) if that’s your thing (and you have the budget for it).
Master one platform before learning about another.
Not defining their objectives
When I wrote an ebook about Twitter I called it Tweeting For a Reason: How (& Why) to Use Twitter to Market Your Business. Your ‘why’ is as important as your ‘how’. You need to define your objectives for each platform before you start.
Your objectives may be sales related or related to PR, image, branding, and awareness. They may be related to traffic, sales, conversions, opt-ins or building a community. Just know what they are, and make sure everything you post on social media supports one or more of those clearly defined objectives.
Obsessing over numbers
If your ‘why’ is important, your ‘who’ is more so, and your who is way more important than your how many. Quality trumps quantity on social media. You’re aiming for an active and engaged following. 1,000 followers who know you, trust you and want to buy from you are way more valuable than 10,000 followers who have no idea who you are and don’t remember why they followed you.
A social media following that grows slowly and organically as genuine fans find you is valuable. A social media following that explodes suddenly because you bought followers, or did a ton of paid advertising to get them… not so much.
Not having a written strategy
People still just hop on social media and start randomly sharing stuff, because that’s how we do personal social media. Business oriented social media should be strategic. Everything you share is meeting your objectives, remember.
So plan out what you’re going share and why. Put together a written strategy of what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure it’s a mix of content, but that it all appeals to your target market. Make sure you’re sharing the content of influencers you want to reach. Include positive messages, calls to action, and incentives.
Social media is a great example of something that can be effective, cost-efficient and strategic, or a huge time suck, depending on how you use it. That’s why strategy and planning is vital.
When you’re using social media for pleasure you can go down a rabbit hole and spend hours on there, and those hours may even be a good use of your leisure time, if you enjoy them. Spending hours on your business oriented social media is never a good use of your time. Once you’ve met your business objectives, get off social media and back on to your core business activities. Social media should complement your core business activities, not detract from them.
Feeling overwhelmed at coordinating all your tasks and strategies as a solopreneur? You may want to check out The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s more than a handbook. It’s an entire system for running your own business on your own terms.
Check out all our articles about social media marketing for more tips. Need to get more clarity in your business (or want the chance to grab the Busy Blogger’s Success Kit at 50% off)? Sign up for your free goodies and exclusive offers below.