Common Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Need to Avoid

As the owner of a small business, having a presence on social media is an absolute must. It allows you to engage with your audience, connect with partners, promote your products, services, and content, build up brand awareness, and can also be a handy customer services tool. What’s more, it is generally free. However, it does come with its pitfalls.

In this article, the UK’s premier company formation agent and small business expert, , shares the common social media mistakes that your small business needs to avoid. Read on and then steer clear.

Failing to set goals

Before you jump in and start setting up your different social media accounts and profiles, you need to ascertain what you’re setting out to achieve. Are you looking to grow leads? Do you want to answer common customer questions? Is it to push content that you’ve created?

Whatever your purpose is, you need to set clear, measurable targets from the outset. This goal should then inform the best social media platforms to get involved with (and those you can skip), the types of posts you write, and the accounts that you attempt to engage with.

If you don’t do this, your approach is going to be scattershot. You will have nothing to aim for so there will be no motivation behind your activity. Everything you do will be ‘social media for social media’s sake.’

No strategy in place

Once you have goals and targets in mind, your next task is to work out how you’re going to achieve these. This is done by creating a social media strategy, a masterplan for how your business is going to tackle social media.

Your social media strategy should include but not be limited to research into your audience and competitors (what do they do well/poorly?), the content that is appropriate for your audience, how customer engagement is handled, and how overall performance should be tracked.

This is essential in all scenarios, but especially if someone other than you is going to be managing your activity, it can provide them with a road map of what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

Whilst the social media strategy can be adapted, when necessary, you should ensure that you always have one in place.

Advertising channels that you don’t use

If you are going to link to a social media account from your website, you absolutely must be using said channel. It does not look good if a user clicks on a social media link only to find that your last update was 15 months ago.

This looks unprofessional and could result in a potential customer questioning not only your reliability but, more severely, if your business is still operating. This may seem drastic, but would you buy something from a company whose last Instagram post was about their 2021 Christmas party? Our advice regarding this comes in two parts…

Firstly, you need to post consistently across your channels. that you should post the following:

  • 3 – 5 times a week on Instagram
  • 2 – 3 times a day on X
  • 1 – 2 times a day on Facebook
  • 1 – 2 times a day on LinkedIn
  • 3 – 5 times a week on TikTok
  • Once a week on Google My Business

Secondly, if you can’t commit to posting regularly, certainly don’t link to the social media account in question from your site, but also ask yourself whether it’s worth you using the platform at all.

Same content, different platforms

Duplicating posts across social media channels is perhaps the most common social media mistake. Linking to the same content is fine and to be expected, but the style in which you do the sharing should fit with the platform on which it is being posted. Your tone of voice should always be consistent and in line with your brand, but your activity must be varied across the platforms.

Everything you post needs to be optimized accordingly. For example, a short and snappy caption about that infographic you made may be suitable for Instagram, where you can show the image off in all its glory, but for X – where image sharing is limited – you’ll need to utilize the space you have (280 characters) differently.

Missing your mentions

A key reason for being on social media is to enable interactions with people who are interested in your brand. But how adequately are you tracking the conversations that are happening about you? Whilst the social media sites’ in-built functionality is reasonable for tracking mentions of your brand, as the level of interaction grows, you may find that you start missing comments.

Ensure this doesn’t happen by using a social media management system to track all variations of your brand name and tweak the settings so that you’re notified as soon as anyone uses these terms.

This way, you will always be on top of the discussion, allowing you to react quickly regardless of whether it’s someone asking you a question, singing your praises, or providing some less-than-positive feedback. This brings us to our next point…

Poor handling of customers

Some businesses actively use their social media channels as a tool for handling customer issues. Others balk at the idea of this. Either way, customers getting in touch to share their grievances is inevitably going to happen, so you need to make sure that these interactions are handled correctly.

Failure to do this will not only worsen the situation with the customer but can also result in serious reputational damage being done to your brand. Here are some quick pointers for how you and your team should work with dissatisfied customers:

  • Remain professional (and calm, it’s not personal) at all times
  • Apologise for any inconvenience caused
  • Never engage in an argument
  • Attempt to take the discussion away from the platform
  • Provide clear timelines for contact and stick to these
  • Thank the customer for their feedback
  • Check-in with the customer to ensure they are satisfied

With this being social media, a user’s interaction may turn abusive. In these instances, clearly state your policy regarding harassment, and if appropriate, stop replying and block/mute the account. You may also consider reporting them to the social media platform.

It’s all about you

Just like in any social situation, on social media, no one appreciates ‘me me me’ behavior. Posting constantly about your products, your services, your content, your people, and your successes is a surefire way to annoy, and ultimately lose, your audience.

Social media success is all about finding the right balance between promotion and engagement. Talk about your offerings but do not make it the sole focus of your content. Mix it up by asking questions, showcasing other business’s content, and highlighting industry-specific news that’s genuinely useful to your audience.

As your audience hopefully grows, a significant proportion of your followers will be customers who you’ve already sold to. Have these people in mind when curating what you share. Yes, they’ll want to hear about your products and services from time to time, but what else are they interested in?

No analysis

With social media, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of regularly posting and then forgetting. You use your social media management tool to line up and schedule your posts for the week, and then you simply deal with any responses as and when they come through. Rinse and repeat.

This approach is typically adopted by businesses that are on social media because it’s expected of them, not because they want to achieve anything useful through their activity.

If you do have a goal in mind (and as highlighted at the start of the article, you really should), it’s vital that you analyse, learn from, and then adapt what you are doing. Otherwise, you will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

At regular intervals, look over all your activity, delving into what is and isn’t working. What types of posts resonate with your audience? At what time of day do these posts go out? What posts are being ignored? Do these posts have anything in common?

To get the most from social media, you need to avoid mindless posting and put consideration into what you’re doing. Thorough analysis is fundamental to doing this.

So there you have it

Those are the common social media mistakes that small businesses need to avoid. If used correctly, the different social media platforms can be a fantastic tool in building a successful business. However, sometimes it can do more harm than good. Follow the advice covered in this article to ensure your business doesn’t fall foul of the major missteps.