Small businesses can waste a lot of money on gimmicks, software and services to get visitors to their websites (called traffic) and to boost their search engine rankings. Some of these approaches no longer work or can hurt you. The Internet has changed radically. Today you need to get involved with social media.
After 30 years in sales and marketing, I got interested in using the Internet to create warm leads. Social networking is the online equivalent of connections I made with credit union managers while socializing at their chapter meetings. Later they would agree to see me to talk business.
Mistakes in Small Business’ Social Media Activities
– Letting the avatar represent you
– Having no bio
– Getting on a political or religious rant
– Only making sales pitches
– Not engaging
Letting the Avatar Represent You
People can’t relate to the avatar (silhouette of a person) provided by the social media site represent you
– Put up a current picture. People need to recognize you to connect.
– Skip the pet pictures. Put them in the photos you share.
Having No Bio
Include at least a simple bio so you need come across as a person. They want to see if they have anything in common with you:
– Interests / favorite activities
Getting on a Political or Religious Rant
Avoid religion and politics if you are a small business unless you want to polarize your audience. For some businesses, this works.
Only Making Sales Pitches
The Internet isn’t a normal advertising medium. Use social media to connect with people. Leave your sales pages on your website. Focus on answering “What’s in it for me?”
On community discussions, use soft promotions. When appropriate to problems people brought up, you can answer their question then mention you products that fix their issues. Talk about things besides your products. Share insights, fascinating tidbits and entertaining pictures.
People like buying from friends. Clicking the Like button shows the minimum level of engagement. Comments are more effective when done like you would in a face-to-face chat.
When someone remarks on your picture or post, respond to them, e.g. thank them for positive feedback. Address negative comments briefly: own the problem and say what you have done about it. Don’t get rid of all negative criticism. Buyers are skeptical of only rave reviews.
Correct these five mistakes to start finding yourself engaging with your ideal prospects. By discussing things besides your product sales, you will find your sales and opportunities grow.
More from this contributor:
First Person: Getting Customer Referrals in the Internet Age
First Person: The Internet and Small Business Marketing
First Person: 10 Small Business Website Gimmicks That Don’t Work