Six social media don’ts for business

With growing access to the Internet, social media now represents an indispensable channel for businesses to promote their brands, connect with customers, cultivate sales leads and deepen their reach. Considering the increasing utility of the smartphone and other mobile devices, research indicates that up to 80 per cent of your target market is actively engaged and reachable on online channels, including social media.

The foregoing justifies the need for business owners to pay closer attention to social media, ensuring it is used optimally to achieve marketing objectives. The key to achieving this is to avoid common social media mistakes that may erode goodwill and damage your company’s reputation online.

These tips will help your business navigate social media better.

Don’t start without a content strategy

According to the Research and Development Unit of Yudala, you must have a plan in place before you put your business on social media. Apart from identifying specific objectives and the resources required to make effective use of social media, you must have a diligently thought-out content strategy. This will cover a profiling of your target audience, the nature of content to be created, and the tone of your communication with them and the mental positioning of your brand in the minds of the audience. The absence of a well thought-out content strategy often leads to a scattergun approach, which does more harm than good to your business.

Don’t focus on selling

Many business owners make the mistake of using social media in this manner. Research shows that social media channels have a humanising effect. In other words, your business takes on a human face by interacting on social media channels. Limiting your use of these channels to being all about selling inadvertently makes the audience see your brand as only transactional in nature, less humane. This will ultimately result in a mental block and poor conversion. As much as possible, you should sell less on social media and focus instead on other forms of engagements with your audience. Research shows that brands with the best returns on social media marketing devote about 10 per cent of the time to selling.

Don’t be a copycat

What works for a certain brand on social media may not work for your business. On social media, one size doesn’t fit all. The kind of content or posts an entertainment company, for instance, will get huge ‘retweets’ or ‘likes’ for may draw ridicule for your technology business. This justifies the essence of planning and developing a strategy before you put your business on social media. It applies to trying to keep pace with others by putting your business on various social media platforms. You don’t necessarily have to be everywhere because ‘Business A’ is. It is important, especially when starting out, to focus on one or two platforms such as Facebook and Twitter/Instagram. This decision should also be the outcome of a careful analysis of the best channels on which to reach your target audience. There is no point creating numerous accounts out of excitement and the urge to keep pace without being active on all of them.

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Don’t pay for followers

As rightly identified by a number of enthusiasts/researchers, followers represent what can be termed the vanity metric of social media. It is sometimes shocking to see the length individuals go to get followers and fans on social media. While some toe the path of controversy, nudity or the bizarre, others go as far as paying for these adulations. Many businesses have followed suit by paying for followers as a means of boosting their standings or image in the eyes of the social media public. This major pitfall may do your brand more harm than good. Rather than pay fake followers to shore up your rankings, focus instead on building real connections through a well-defined content and engagement strategy with your audience. This approach delivers better returns on investment for your business than fake followers.

Don’t overlook feedback

According to Yudala, one of the benefits of social media is its humanising effect. Most customers will see your brand from a more personal standpoint when interacting on social media. As a result, you must leverage on this and use social media channels as veritable platforms for more responsive customer service. These days, it doesn’t take much for a brand to get noticed for the right or wrong reasons on social media. Always seek feedback. And when it comes unsolicited, never make the mistake of ignoring or overlooking it. Treat it with all the urgency it deserves and turn it into an opportunity for the disgruntled customer to endorse your brand.

Don’t overdo #hashtags

Hashtags are very useful, but when over-used, they can become a distraction. When used effectively, the right hashtags can enrich your posts, create awareness or make them go viral, connecting you to newer audiences than you previously communicated with. However, this does not mean #that #because #you #can #you #should #turn #every #word #into #a #hashtag. You get the drift now?

Hashtags can connect you more effectively to the consumers, to investors and other target audiences. The major key is to ensure you do not abuse or overuse them.

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