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Social media is the cause of much discussion between small business owners. Some business owners don’t see the value in social media and others point to social media as the main reason for their startup’s success.

But, social media requires skill (with full university degrees on the topic!) and there is a science to it even if it doesn’t seem so. Social media can be the easiest way to reach an audience but it can also be the easiest way to isolate a business from a particular audience. Unfortunately, some businesses have suffered from bad social media backlash due to some horrid mistakes made.

Social media can be an essential tool for all businesses but it is also essential to get it right and stay true to your brand.

Dynamic Business asked experts what mistakes businesses make when engaging on social media?

Tracy Hall, Marketing Director, GoDaddy ANZ:
One of the mistakes that businesses make is that they think of social media as free. I think it’s fair to say that in 2018, there’s no such thing as “free” social. On Facebook a number of algorithm changes have driven organic reach towards zero, making the platform a pay-to-play advertising environment for brands. If you want your customers and potential customers to see what you have to say on social media platforms, you will need to pay to reach them. You don’t need to put a huge amount of money behind social posts, but putting some budget towards strategically targeting customers can bring rewards. It might also be worthwhile investing some time to learn about the back-end of your chosen social media platforms and how they work to see exactly how your marketing dollars are impacting your bottom line or business objectives.
Michelle Gallaher, Managing Director of The Social Science, said:
1. “I’m a B2B organisation, therefore social media has limited value for us”: Wrong! LinkedIn is business critical for those in B2B or B2G. LinkedIn has a high page rank with search engines, which means your personal LinkedIn profile or your company page will often appear above your website on a search. A LinkedIn company page validates your business, particularly if you are a startup or small business. An active company LinkedIn page may be a far more effective driver of sale or service enquiries than a website particularly if you utilise the ads or sponsored content functions. B2B organisations often say that Facebook is not a social media option for their organisation. The line between personal and business on social media has become far more blurred with many professionals following work-related Facebook pages with their personal Facebook profile.
2. Social media is a huge database of facts, information and opinion invaluable to market researchers: Social listening is an incredibly valuable skill for any business in understanding their customer or client base, observing competitors or researching unmet market opportunities. In the old days, we used to pay market research companies vast sums of money for access to opinions, behaviour and data. Now smart organisations use social media as a key market research tool that, at a fraction of the cost, delivers fast, deep and lasting insights.
3. Leaving social media to the receptionist or the junior members of staff: Social media needs to be led from the very top of the organisation. Younger people (digital natives) may have the skills but they rarely have the insight or strategic approach to managing brands and client relationships in the digital landscape. When a CEO or Director of an organisation is comfortable and present on social media, the value derived from the channel is very significant. Leading by example also ensures that others within the business understand the social media policies, behaviours and content that is valuable to the organisation. When CEOs tweet, post, like and share, the organisation often delivers better customer service, manages relationships with stakeholders and investors, as well as has greater access to new ideas, technologies, opportunities and people.
Amy Walker, Co-founder and Head of Growth, Cognitives:
For me there are two key mistakes that brands make when engaging on social media.
The first is treating the social team as separate from other marketing channels, and not ensuring brand alignment and consistency. As we all know, brand consistency is essential to providing a cohesive story, and that needs to hold true across all marketing channels, including your marketing content, from your creative to your tone and brand personality.
The second mistake I see is brands getting too ‘up close and personal’ on social media. This is essentially another brand consistency problem. To put it simply, you shouldn’t be best buds with your customers on social media if that’s not how your brand interacts with its customers on every other channel. The most successful brands I’ve seen have a clearly documented brand guide, outlining how their brand communicates across all marketing channels, including social.
Charles Tidswell, VP for JAPAC, Socialbakers: 

The question is no longer whether businesses should be on social media, but how can businesses make sure they are getting the most out of their social media investment, folding insights from 30% of the worlds population who access social platforms on a monthly basis back into their marketing and business operations. Insights from social media are advancing rapidly, too frequently these insights are not identified or shared, they are managed in isolation.

Jake Colvin, Co-Founder and Director of International Operations, Owlet:

Social media can be invaluable, but it can also be stressful. As a company that has built out a 750,000+ following across Facebook and Instagram, we know this first-hand. I managed our channels when we were starting out and I used to pour over every single word. We now have an extremely talented, dedicated social media team in-house who are naturals at it.

Because social media moves incredibly quickly, businesses need to ensure they’re extremely responsive. Diffusing fires quickly and acknowledging your loyal followers who comment, share, or send direct messages can set you apart. In this age, your followers can often be your biggest brand advocates, so keep them onside.

Businesses may initially struggle to find a good voice that represents their audience. At Owlet, we’re extremely family-oriented, so we ensure our social team speaks with that same tone to enable our customers (mostly new parents) to feel empowered. Knowing ‘who’ you are as a business and what your tone of voice is, is imperative. Having a cohesive voice across all channels – including your customer service and online chat agents – truly enhances the customer’s experience.

Kirsty Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer, Cohort Go:
Social media is a fast-paced and public channel; meaning that mistakes can be made easily. While some can be forgiven or even go by undetected, others can be damaging to the reputation of a brand. Brands can often make the mistake of simply promoting themselves on social media rather than focusing their messaging to their followers. Engaging content is key on social media and each post should be written with the purpose of offering value such as education, entertainment or humour.
There is plenty of room for error when dealing with negative comments on social media. Some of the most common mistakes include deleting or ignoring these comments. Social media is a useful customer service channel, and negative comments are an opportunity to showcase exceptional service. Actively monitor comments and mentions, respond quickly, and apologise where necessary. Managing these comments well could even boost your brand image.Let’s Talk: Social Media

Emily Young, Resident Experience Manager, Inspire9 Coworking Space:

Be careful thinking that social media is the golden ticket to success. Many start-ups fall into the trap of thinking that Facebook ads as a standalone will be a miracle solution to sales. The reality is very different. For Facebook advertising to even be effective you need to understand your target market, know which messages will convert and have the imagery and videography to go along with it. Social media should also be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy not the only tool in the tool belt.

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Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

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