Using social media appears easy because the average 10-year-old is all over it, posting updates on their status, sharing pictures and videos with their friends, and looking for ideas on Snapchat and Instagram.
But appearances are often deceiving, especially as small business owners faced with manpower and resource shortages fall short of what they want to accomplish online.
We read of the remarkable success stories some entrepreneurs are having on social media, and wonder why we are not achieving the same results.
The reality is that challenges arise for many small businesses who are trying to make the most of their social media presence, but are often lacking the manpower, knowledge and financial support to do everything they want to achieve online.
What should we really focus on? What are we failing to do?
Here are solutions to five of the most common problems small businesses face when handling social media:
Social Media Challenge #1: Figuring out where to start and what to focus on
As professionals we learn to trust our intuition and most of the time it serves us well. The problem is that intuition is largely based on what we know and what we have experienced, and while it can be quite reliable in certain business situations, if you have no experience or knowledge base for social media, it can often lead to miscalculations.
The solution: You need to do your research and get some hard data on what is working for you and what is just spinning your wheels and not going anywhere.
Start collecting your weekly and monthly metrics and schedule time to seriously review them each quarter of the year.
What do you need to look at?
Start with clicks on your postings. Are they going up or down and by what percentage? What kind of postings are getting the most clicks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn)? What kind of percentage of change are you seeing month over month?
When you have the data at your fingertips, you can determine if your intuition is indeed accurate, or if it needs to be tweaked a bit.
If your website traffic from social media activity is not increasing, if some posts are getting a great response and others very little, you can make adjustments quickly and ensure that your efforts are not wasted.
Social Media Challenge #2: Lack of eye-catching visuals
So much has been written about ensuring you offer quality content that most businesses understand the importance of creating messages that have value to their readers.
However, in emphasizing the words we use, sometimes we forget the importance of great photos and visuals.
The Solution: Here’s a statistic that is not as well known as the rule that good content creates good responses.
Did you know that posts with great visual content are 40 times more likely to be shared than any other type of content?
If you know one single move could grow your response rate by 40 percent, would you engage in it immediately? Of course you would.
For original images, look to sites like https://pablo.buffer.com/ or https://www.canva.com/. These sites are easy and fun to use and you can customize each image size to work with the social media channel you are going to place it on.
Social Media Challenge #3: Tactics without strategy
When you go into business you don’t buy a store before you know what you are going to sell. You don’t start a consultancy without know what services you can offer.
But many small business owners decide what they are going to do to promote their businesses using social media without figuring out what their strategy is.
When you place tactics before strategy in any aspect of your business, it is akin to the cart pulling the horse. It’s just not going to get you anywhere.
Sun Tzu – the author of The Art of War – may have said it best, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Before you should decide the tactics of your social media strategy, you need to know your goals for social media. Know the ups and downs of your market in great detail, have a clear picture of who your target customer is, and which social media channels they are most likely populating. Only then can you be on target with your tactics.
Social Media Challenge #4. Your organic reach is dropping like a stone
You had a good thing going, and all of a sudden it appears that what you were doing isn’t working so well anymore. Your content isn’t reaching as many people as it was.
Social media analysts call that a drop in your “organic reach.”
You want those readers back and more on top of them.
The Solution: Fixing this problem starts with closely monitoring your audience to see what kinds of content engage them. You may have to start to create individual content for each social media platform, since different types of content prompts different types of readers to respond.
It is okay to consider curating other people’s good content as well and provide links to thought-provoking blogs. Social media is all about being social, and that means sharing.
When your organic reach drops, it just means that some people aren’t finding you interesting anymore. You have to take the steps to change that.
Remember, when it comes to your social media, that quantity is no solution to quality when it comes to the content you post.
Social Media Challenge #5: Lack of responsiveness upsets your readers
When you open yourself up to sharing on social media, people expect an authentic connection from you. That means if they talk to you, if they share an experience with your company, and even if they are just upset with you, you need to respond.
Social media cannot be treated like a one-way information funnel to prospective customers. It is a two-way sharing relationship with people.
When you fail to acknowledge this and respond, you start to break that connection with your audience, and once broken, it is hard to get it back.
The Solution: As soon as you start posting on social media, you need to start monitoring and responding to comments in the same way you would answer if someone spoke to you.
You can respond in many ways. If the person wants more information, you may decide to link them to another blog post; if they ask for more about data contained in a White Paper you quoted, you may want to share a link so they can read the whole document.
If they are happy with your company or product and they tell you, you need to thank them and share that. If they are upset, you need to acknowledge that and respond to it even if you would prefer that they would just go away.
You can ask questions, gather more insights, or even respond that you or your representative will call them directly to discuss this issue further.
Remember, there is a reason why the word “social” is included in social media.
Thank you for your time. Until next time. Take care.
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