I am an entrepreneur and I have made more than my share of mistakes. One thing I try to do is never make the same mistake twice. I have heard that advice from several successful entrepreneurs and take it from me, it is great advice!
Taking it one step further…mistakes can actually be a good thing.
I know I have told this story a couple of times, but it still resonates with me and seems perfect for this topic. I was recently a guest speaker at the National Association of Professional Women’s annual conference and heard Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, tell a story about how her Dad taught her that failure was often a blessing because it provided a valuable lesson to be learned that could be applied in similar situations the rest of your life.
You can also learn from the mistakes of others and I have seen a great many entrepreneurs make the same mistakes time-after-time with social media. Today I want to share with you 9 social media mistakes I see entrepreneurs make most often.
Mistake #1 – They do not start with a plan
It is interesting, I see entrepreneurs spend exhaustive amounts of time drafting pro-forma financial forecasts, doing market research, competition scans and the like, but they rarely take 10 minutes to craft an actual social media strategy. Take a couple of hours to draft a social media marketing plan, or at least an outline of the “5 W’s” (who, what, where, when and why). Things just work better when there is a plan.
Mistake #2 – They fail to commit adequate resources
Most social media sites are free, so the resource I am talking about is time. I get this question all of the time “How much time should I spend on social media?”. I used to NOT answer. Instead I would say that it varied based on a number of different things. People were frustrated by that non-answer, so now I try to narrow it down a little. Once you have learned the basics of the social media sites you plan to use and have everything up and running, it should take you about an hour or two a day to do an effective job with your social media platform.
Mistake #3 – They do not pick the right sites
Do you use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn? Do you blog and have a newsletter? How about a website? Unless you have unlimited resources, you are going to have to narrow the toolbox down. How do you do that? Start by asking where your ideal clients can be found. As a general rule, you want to be where they are. The more resources you have to commit, the more places you can meet them. So, when you are crafting your social media plan (see “Mistake #1”) spend a little time investigating which sites your future clients are most active on.
Mistake #4 – They use “push” marketing
What is “push” marketing? It is that stuff you fast forward by on your DVR. It is that stuff you get in the mail that you do not even look at before you throw it away. On social media it is the stuff that will get you “unfollowed”, “unliked” or otherwise “excommunicated”. Social media is about “pull” marketing. Lead with value and cleverly entice people to want your goods and services. As a general rule, make 4 out of every 5 communications on social media non-sales posts and you will be ok.
Mistake #5 – They NEVER ask for the business
This is the flip side of “Mistake #4” and I see this just as often. It is easy to get too friendly and off-topic on social media and forget that the primary purpose of you using social media was to support your business. Do not forget to weave in your products, services or offerings from time-to-time.
Mistake #6 – They do not measure, track and adjust
Social media is thick with data, and for every social media site there are usually dozens of free analytics tools, either built-in or third party, that tell you how you are doing. Stop every now and then to measure your success, not just overall but piece-by-piece. Which types of posts get the most interactions and which are bombs? What sort of feedback is your community giving you? Keep doing the things that work and change the things that do not.
Mistake #7 – They quit too soon
Social media takes time. Why? Because it is about relationship building and there is no shortcut to building a relationships that result in community. However, once you have the relationships built, the momentum you have created starts producing returns. I have heard way too many entrepreneurs say “I tried social media once, but there was no ROI”. There is an ROI, but the investment window is longer than the 30 days you gave it. You need to make a solid 6-month commitment to social media to start getting the significant returns you had hoped for. The revenue is in the relationship!
Mistake #8 –They do not use the tools
Humans are an industrious sort. If there is a better, faster, cheaper way to do something we have probably found it. It is the same with social media too. There are tons of post scheduling, growth, tracking, notification, graphic-making and other tools available to manage each of the major social media sites and many are free. Invest a little time in finding the ones that will improve your efficiency and quality.
Mistake #9 – They bite off more than they can chew
It is better to manage one social media site REALLY well than stink at 4. Most social media sites take time; time to learn and time to manage. Pick one or two social media platforms and do them well. Once you have that down add a second, third and then maybe a fourth, but do not try to do everything or you will end up doing none of them well.
Hopefully something I have said helps you shorten the learning curve on your path to social media success. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions and maybe some of the social media mistakes you have made below. Reading about the mistakes you have made just might help somebody else not make the same one.