The digital fix

How social media can be hurting your brand, and what to do about it.

In an increasingly digital world, brands have an incredible opportunity to leverage social media in order to share their message and attract a global audience more than ever before. And as small businesses, this could mean greater exposure, revenue and growth. But what we don’t see behind the shiny lights and hope of going viral is the fact that this very thing could be hurting our own brands.

I know this, because I’ve seen it happen countless times and these common social mistakes can be holding your brand back from achieving true online success. The thing is, social media is meant to work for you, not against you. Yet we’re noticing many business owners fall short when it comes to their social game, which is preventing them from leveraging their accounts.

There are five common mistakes you could be making when it comes to social media and I’m going to show you how to fix them.

Platform overwhelm

Just because there are multiple social media platforms doesn’t mean you need to be active on every single one. Each platform will provide your audience with something different, whether that’s video content, long form captions or simple static photos. It’s essential that you identify who your target audience is, which platforms they’re most likely to use and how they like to receive content. Focusing on too many platforms at once can cause platform overwhelm and your message becomes diluted. It’s better to focus on quality content on the platforms that work best for your business, than a large quantity of content on every single social media account.

“Now is the time to ensure your brand is leveraging social media to make it work for you, not against you.”

Try this instead: Choose one or two platforms where you can frequently engage online and forget about everything else. There’s a pretty good chance these platforms are ones you’re already using. Once you’ve determined where your efforts can be best received, stick to it. Again, you don’t need to be on every social media platform, only the ones where you can benefit from most.

Vague messaging

While social media was created to bring people together and be, well, social, there’s something to be said for how you communicate on these platforms. A big faux pas as a business owner is using social media to share your every waking moment throughout the day. We’re big on letting your brand personality shine, but when you have the ability to reach an already engaged audience, you don’t want to waste their time with nothing of value.

The thing is, being vague with your messaging is confusing, provides no clear call to action and doesn’t give your audience much to interact with. If you’re showing up online with no real plan, it’s harder to communicate with potential customers and this doesn’t lend itself to the brand you’ve created.

Try this instead: Create a solid communications strategy to help support your business’ objectives and goals. Break this down into a monthly plan, and get clear on any offers, promotions or events that could bring in potential customers and attention. This then becomes your guiding light for the type of content you share online. It’s much easier to communicate with your audience when you have a strategy and plan in place to maximise your exposure.

Comparison

Most social media platforms are based on an algorithm – as much as you

can play into it, you can’t control it. Your success is not defined by the number of likes you get on a photo or the amount of re-shares your article has received. Equally, it is not defined by the number of followers you have. It’s more important to have a low number of highly engaged followers, than a high number of low engaged followers. But it’s easy to forget about the logistics and focus on the comparison game that happens with social media – it’s inevitable. The trouble with comparing your business with others on the internet is that it takes you away from what your audience wants and needs from you.

Try this instead: One of your biggest assets as a brand and business owner is that no one will do things like you do them. Your brand personality is unique and instinctively going to be different from everyone else, so try injecting more of that into your business. It’s equally important to stay in your own lane and laser focused on objectives and milestones that are directly tied to your business, not anyone else’s.

Perfectionism

What often prevents businesses from engaging on social media is the fear of it not being perfect. They question everything from the caption to the image or lighting, which usually results in them not posting anything at all. One of the biggest social media mistakes is being silent and unseen, when your audience is sitting there waiting for you. This is a missed opportunity, because perfectionism doesn’t exist in the social media world.

Try this instead: Gone are the days of a perfectly curated feed or social account. Audiences are expecting entertaining or educational content from businesses, not just perfect looking pictures. Look at showing up consistently and mixing up the type of content you’re sharing, so that you’re equally as inspired as your audiences will be.

Too trendy

It seems like almost every week there’s something new trending online, that’s been inspired by a global event or public figure. The thing with trends is that they almost always have nothing to do with your business or content strategy and, quite frankly, should be avoided. Not only that, they come and go, making any content you share dated and irrelevant to your business.

Try this instead: Be relevant with the type of content you share and be clear on if it’s providing value or if it’s something that should be kept offline instead. This goes back to the content strategy and communications plan you’ve put in place. Make the most out of your social media platforms by remaining on-brand and consistent with your brand messaging.

With the rise of social media over the last decade, audiences are looking for more from their favourite brands, celebrities and business. The social landscape has changed dramatically and I can only suspect it will continue to innovate and unleash new ways for businesses to gain exposure on a larger scale.

Now is the time to ensure your brand is leveraging social media to make it work for you, not against you. The opportunities that are presenting themselves haven’t existed in this capacity before, so what are you waiting for?

Rachelle Saevil, creative director, Saevil Row Design Studio

This story first appeared in issue 30 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

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