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5 Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Small Businesses Make

Social media provides small businesses with an affordable advertising medium, but few small business owners are trained in social media marketing. Many make mistakes on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social platforms, that hinder their efforts. In some cases, their advertising attempts even hurt their business. Here are five common mistakes small business owners make on social media.

Pushing Products

Pushing products on social media does not work. While this strategy may be appropriate for some advertising mediums, such as television, radio, and newspaper, it turns people off on social platforms. People use Facebook and other platforms for social activities, not to see advertisements. Businesses must first find ways to connect with people on social sites, before selling a product or service.

Pull marketing, which is also known as inbound marketing, is more effective on social media than push marketing. Whereas push marketing "pushes" a brand's message onto customers, pull marketing seeks "pull" them in. It works better on social media because it invites customers into a business' community, which is what social media is all about.

Spamming Customers

Spamming is never a good idea, but it is especially inappropriate on social media. Most business owners know that spamming is a bad strategy, but few know precisely what counts as spam. According to Buffer, the definition of spam varies from platform to platform. According to their data, businesses can safely post:

  • Once a day on LinkedIn, during weekdays only
  • Twice a day on Google+, during weekdays only
  • Twice a day on Facebook, on both weekdays and weekends
  • 14 times a day on Twitter, on both weekdays and weekends

Posting Irregularly

Posting too little is just as detrimental as posting too much. Businesses succeed on social media when they make it a priority. When they just do it if there's time, their efforts ebb and flow--and fans lose interest during the lulls. Ultimately, no consistent following is ever developed if there's not also a consistent effort.

Social media marketing needs to be a priority if it is to be an effective way of reaching customers. Updates should not just be posted when time permits. They should be posted regularly.

Using Too Many Platforms

Many small businesses begin exploring social media marketing by signing up for too many platforms. It is good to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, but only if there are enough resources to be active on each of them. Most small businesses do not have the time, money, or people to devote to so many platforms.

Rather than partially maintaining a bunch of accounts, it is better to focus only on a few platforms that you can regularly attend to. Limiting efforts to a manageable number of platforms will yield higher conversion rates and present a more developed brand image.

About 1.35 billion people log onto Facebook at least once a month. Because the platform has such a large user base, every business should have a presence on Facebook.

Aside from Facebook, it is important to consider your business' product or service and customer base when selecting other platforms to use. The additional platforms used should be well suited for a business. For instance, an accounting firm might be able to find corporate clients on LinkedIn, whereas a photography business would be better able to showcase its pictures on a visual platform like Instagram or Tumblr.

Buying Fake Fans

Small businesses often struggle to gain a critical mass of followers when first setting up pages on Facebook. Some businesses try to jumpstart their efforts by purchasing fake fans. These fake fans, they hope, will create a snowball effect that leads to likes and shares from real people.

Purchasing fake fans will hurt your business' Facebook campaign, however. Facebook's algorithm decides how many people will see your business' posts partly on how popular they are. According to TechCrunch, less that 16 percent of a page's fans see an unsponsored post made on that page. That number will decrease even more if fans are not engaging with the post, and fake fans are unable to like, share, or comment.

Instead of purchasing fake fans, ask friends and family to help your business' social accounts get started. If they like, retweet, or share your first few postings, your business may soon gain some momentum and begin to grow a loyal following.

Social media marketing is a powerful way to reach both existing and new customers, but only when you know how to use it properly. Avoid these five common mistakes, and your small business will benefit from your improved efforts.