7 common social media mistakes for small businesses

Insureon staff
Using the wrong platforms, posting too much information, and ignoring customer reviews are just a few of the missteps that businesses often make on social media.
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Editor's note: Social media marketing (and also protecting your business from related risks) is an important step for any small business. But there are many pitfalls to avoid. In this guest post, Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBizMedia, shares an update on some of the most common social media mistakes she encounters.

Social media should be an essential part of your small business's marketing plan. However, unlike many other marketing initiatives, it can be a little harder to track your social return on investment, and common social media mistakes can negatively impact results.

If you get your social media strategy right, you can't deny the benefits. Statista reports that 77% of Americans use social media, so it’s a great way to reach new prospects and interact with your current customers. For retailers, social media is three times more likely to drive visits from noncustomers, according to Adobe's State of Digital Advertising report.

Take a look at what I call the “seven deadly sins of social media.” Avoid these social media mistakes, and you'll get better results from your efforts.

1. Misusing social media

Avoid posting personal pictures or opinions on your business’s social media accounts. However, you should still be careful with what you share on your personal social media accounts since people can easily connect you to your business. It’s all too easy to alienate customers who disagree with your views.

Use social media to connect with current and potential customers. According to a report in The Manifest, 74% of consumers follow businesses on social media, and 96% of them interact with the brands they follow.

Do businesses’ efforts to reach customers on social media pay off? The report shows that 51% of consumers like brands’ posts, 31% leave reviews, 22% mention a brand on their own profile, 20% direct message a business, and 18% tweet at a company.

Many businesses now conduct customer service using social media channels.

2. Using the wrong platforms

Facebook may be the world’s largest social media platform, with 2 billion monthly users, but it might not be the right network for your business. Younger consumers tend to be on newer platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, while Instagram is the fastest-growing social network.

If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn is likely to be the most effective social platform. Retailers and e-commerce businesses might find success on Pinterest. The only way to know for sure which platform is best for you is to create business accounts on all of the major social channels and test them to see which generate the best results. Find out what social networks your customers use most and where your competitors have a presence.

3. Posting too much information

When your business posts on social media, you're not just talking to your customers. Anyone can see your messages, including your competition. And while you want your social fans and followers to know you're having a sale this weekend, you don't want your competitors to know exactly which items you're discounting and by how much.

When using social media, it's important to figure out how to pique interest without saying too much. For example, create a post announcing that customers should look for an email coupon for an upcoming sale and include a link to subscribe to your email newsletter.

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4. Not buying ads

Marketers are increasing social ad budgets – they rose by 32% last year alone – and producing more ads than ever before, according to a Hootsuite social trends survey. One of four Facebook pages now uses paid media as Facebook and Google continue to dominate the online advertising landscape.

At the same time, 64% of surveyed companies say there has been a decline in organic reach and that they have increased their paid budgets.

The Manifest reports states:

  • 67% of consumers have made a purchase after seeing an ad on social media.
  • Millennials (77%) are more likely to make a purchase after seeing an ad on social media than Gen Xers (69%) and baby boomers (48%).

Your business could be missing an opportunity to gain new customers if you do not include social media ad spend in your marketing plan.

5. Failing to think like a customer

When you’re interacting with your favorite brands on social media, you probably expect certain behaviors – quick responses, easy-to-find contact information, and so on. Do you offer the same experience to your customers?

When designing a social media strategy and maintaining your business accounts, remember to approach things from the customer's perspective, thinking about what they want and how can you accommodate that. If you don’t take the time to answer these questions, your business’s social media marketing efforts may not reach their full potential.

6. Ignoring ratings and review websites

The Impact of Online Reviews on Small Business Revenue report from Womply reveals the benefits of responding to social reviews.

  • Response rate matters. Three-quarters of small businesses don’t respond to any reviews. However, businesses that reply to more than 20% of customer reviews earn 42% more revenue than businesses that don’t respond. Businesses that reply to at least half of their reviews earn $166,000 more in annual revenue than businesses that don’t reply to any reviews.
  • More is better. Businesses with more than the average number of reviews (83) earn 82% more annual revenue than businesses that have below-average review counts. Businesses with 200-plus reviews earn twice as much in revenue compared with the average business.
  • More profiles claimed equals more revenue. Businesses that claim their free listings on at least three of the major review sites (including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor) average $107,000 more in annual revenue than a typical business and $179,000 more than businesses that don’t claim their listings on any review sites.
  • Consumers are kinder than you think. Nationally, 81% of online reviews for a typical business are positive.

7. Not being authentic

One basic business rule has never changed: People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Earn your customers’ trust by being authentic and genuine in your social media posts. When consumers like and trust you, they’ll share your posts, and your circle of influence will grow.

Protect your business from social media risks

Even if you avoid common social media mistakes, these networks pose significant business risks. It’s important to have a plan for who is allowed to post content and what types of posts you will share with your social media followers.

Monitor your social media platforms closely so you can address any potential problems immediately, and take time to understand libel and slander laws and copyright issues that could lead to lawsuits or unexpected business expenses.

If you do face a social media lawsuit, small business insurance can help you avoid financial losses. General liability or professional liability (for businesses with more exposure to risks) policies typically protect against legal action associated with copyright infringement, libel, and slander.

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To protect your business, complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare insurance quotes from top-rated U.S. carriers. Once you find the right policy for your small business, you can begin coverage in less than 24 hours.

Rieva Lesonsky, Contributing Writer

Rieva is a writer and best-selling author of several books centered around small businesses and entrepreneurship. She's experienced in content creation, runs a small business blog, and has worked with leading brands like SCORE, Small Business Trends, and AT&T Small Business.

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