Common missteps small businesses make on social media (part 2)

Caren Roblin

Caren Roblin

We already dove head first into a sea of mistakes small businesses make on social media in part one of this three-part column.

When you’re operating without a strategy, are on too many platforms, don’t have enough time to spend on your social accounts and aren’t nurturing relationships with your audience, there is no return on investment for the time and resources you are spending on managing your brand’s social media presence.

The following are more of the most common missteps small businesses make on social media — and how to fix them.

You’re (gasp!) kind of boring

Of course, the first step to not being boring is realizing that you are being boring. Think about the types of content you post.

For example, are you only sharing your blog posts and asking questions? And that’s it? Over and over again? This same stream of content is easy for your audience to disengage with.

Sit down and brainstorm a list of content types you could try out: Q-and-As, demo videos, etc. Once you have that list, you can plan out what you want to create and when/where you want to post it. And don’t be afraid to experiment! As long as you’re not offending your audience, there really is no such thing as a “failed” post, just great learning opportunities.

Investing in planning up front not only diversifies what you’re sharing online but also does better at grabbing the attention of the audience you want to engage with.

Also, be aware of your social voice. As a brand, you want to be professional but also conversational. Let your personality shine through. Be funny! But always double check if a post is actually funny before you go live with it. Too many brands have made the mistake of thinking they were being funny when no one else thought so. Don’t be that brand.

You’re inconsistent in how often you post

The question I’m asked most often is: “How often should I post?” Business owners want to know: Are they posting too often? Not often enough?

There are recommendations on posting frequency per platform, but always remember that there is no magic number. The Social Media Examiner suggests you should post between two and five times per day on Facebook, multiple times per day on Instagram (thanks to the newish algorithm, up to 15 times per day is considered fine), at least one to four times on Twitter, about 20 times per month on LinkedIn and up to five times per day in the evening hours on Pinterest.

But the biggest challenge with posting consistency is posting in real time whenever you happen to think of it. All too often, there won’t be any posts for seemingly a long time, and then (all of a sudden) several posts in a day or over a couple days.

Various social media tools help with this.

As far as scheduling posts, Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social and Agorapulse are social management tools I’d recommend.

Of course, quality always beats quantity. Because there really is no magic number, always test and measure the metrics to see what frequency works best for your audience on any given platform. And know that while you can schedule out posts, the engagement does still need to be done in real time.

You’re all sell, sell, sell

Speaking of appearing to only be online to sell, this is an easy trap to fall into.

Let’s be honest, your brand’s ultimate goal on social media is likely tied to making a sale in some way at some point down the line. And that’s OK.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional sales event or post, but try to keep it to fewer than one in five posts, if that.

Instead, think about teaching your audience rather than always selling to them. Think about topics that are relevant not only to your industry but also to your audience. What can you teach your audience? How can you be entertaining and useful while you teach them something? You are the expert after all.

The key here is to be authentic. Be yourself. Remember that the primary reason people are on social media in the first place is to escape commercialism and advertising (as much as possible, anyway). Use your industry knowledge to inform and engage them. Users need to be aware of you first, then trust you and then potentially buy from you. As much as we’d like to skip from A to Z, we can’t leave out the rest of the alphabet.

You’re not selling enough

On the flip side, you could also not be selling enough. While social media is a commitment and investment of time and resources, there should still be an ROI attached to it. Brand awareness is the crucial first step of the sales funnel, but you still want to go further than that and turn your audience into happy, loyal customers along the way.

If you’re not selling enough, try the one sales post out of every five posts as a start to gauge the appetite of your audience while also not being overwhelmingly “salesy.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series to find out what other mistakes small businesses are making on social media.

Caren Roblin is Director of Content at Sierra Nevada Media Group, which publishes the Northern Nevada Business View. You can contact her at


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