As a business owner it’s tempting to think that social media will solve all your marketing problems. It’s free, right? And reaches a vast audience, right? Well, maybe. There are better and worse ways to use social media. Here are a few common errors to avoid.
• Blatant self-promotion. Who appreciates a self-involved bore? No one and especially not customers. Think about social media as a conversation that is only partially about you, and mostly about the folks you’re talking with. Like any good conversation, it’s a free flow of ideas where no one person dominates the action.
This means that it’s important for people to leave comments, “like” what you put out, and generally interact with you. Get back to them with comments and posts that show you’re paying attention to what they say. Encourage participation that focuses on them and not you.
• The hard sell. This is just as unappealing on social media as it is in person. No one wants to hear the “buy me!” message being trumpeted at high volume. Social media is about building relationships, not using people to get to their wallets.
Experts say that 10 percent or less of your content should be a marketing pitch. This is one out of ten messages (or less). That means the other nine messages should be about providing information, answering questions, affirming what others say, and serving as a trusted resource. Social media shouldn’t be your entire marketing focus anyway, and that means that you can ask for a sale in other channels.
• Believing that just because it doesn’t cost you anything means it’s free. Wrong! There’s a big cost to your time (and your staff’s time) in keeping up with the social media channels you’ve chosen. To do this well you need to be paying attention several times a day. Think about the number of hours you can devote to this and assign a cost. Consider how social
media marketing fits into your workday and the workloads of you and your staff.
If you’re doing this, what else are you not doing, and what’s the opportunity
cost to that?
In order to do this well you should choose only one or two social media avenues and focus your energies there, and not scatter-shot by trying to be everywhere. Better to do a couple of things well than many things poorly.
Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program. The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit
the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.