As valuable as social media is to small businesses, especially in today’s world where growing companies need all the free marketing they can get, most businesses are not using networking to their full advantage, and many are practically driving their marketing strategies while blindfolded. Social media can be an important asset, but also a dead end if not correctly used.
Social media is a jungle-full of potential opportunities for fledgling businesses to grow, but also full of pitfalls. But it’s not hard to increase your online presence through social media, and by dodging a few common mistakes you can make networking work for you and come out unscathed.
Here are six mistakes you should avoid when trying to survive and flourish in the social media jungle.
Mistake #1: Timing is irrelevant
In case you’re thinking you can Tweet or post content from your couch while watching a midnight movie, think again.
The couch and movie are up to you, but just like surviving in the jungle, timing is crucial. For content and shares to spread quickly, you need to post when it has the best chance of catching people’s attention – during peak internet usage. This is typically during the evening for general internet users, but specific social media sites have their own hotspot times when usage is at its highest, like Twitter who says they have the most traffic on Wednesdays at 5pm (EST), or Saturday at noon for Facebook users.
Know when the most traffic will be streaming through a social media site and throw out a line. You have better odds at catching something this way.
Mistake #2: Social Media buttons can go anywhere
You’ve taken a good step by including social media buttons in your post, but that’s not enough. People have short attention spans when it comes to browsing through web pages, and unless they can easily see that social media button leading to your Facebook page, for example, they aren’t likely to go searching for it. Make your social media presence obvious on the page, such as at the top, or including a scrolling bar as well, like Sharebar.
Mistake #3: Shares are more important than traffic
The theory is that if you get more shares, you will see an increase in traffic as well, but this is not always the case. People may be sharing without visiting your social media sites. Check the website traffic to determine if you are seeing an increase. If not, consider making your social media presence more obvious. For starters, make sure you aren’t making mistake #2.
Mistake #4: People read content when they share it
Although the peak times for sharing on Twitter may be Wednesdays at 5 p.m., this doesn’t necessarily mean the content is getting read during this period. Content reading can be, and often is, different than content sharing. This is most important for blogs.
Post when your target audience will be most likely to see it, not just when there is peak usage. For example, if you are targeting a high-school audience who mostly tweets during the school day, don’t post blogs during this time because most won’t be able to read it. Post in the early afternoon instead, after school is out but before kids settle down to do homework.
Mistake #5: Use all social media outlets for the best results
This is a mistake for two reasons: 1) you will drown yourself in spending time and energy doing all this social networking, and 2) you will overwhelm the audience. Less than 9% of people click on more than one social media button on a page.
They have short attention spans, remember?
Keep it simple and choose 3 social buttons. Quality over quantity.
Mistake #6: Slow and steady wins the race
The moral of the tortoise in the hare does not apply to social media. Be the hare. Speed of shares and traffic is crucial in the social media jungle, and the more there is in a shorter period of time, the better.
Survival can be tough in social media, especially for small businesses. Going into it haphazardly can be especially devastating for a growing business. So be careful not to fall into these pitfalls, and welcome to the jungle.