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Do you make these social media mistakes?

If you own a business, chances are you're using social media to promote it. And that makes sense, considering about 8 in 10 Americans use online reviews to research a first-time purchase. But are you focusing your digital efforts in the right places? Here are some common mistakes businesses make.

Not updating your accounts

Just having a social media account isn't enough. If you're not going to be active on a social media platform, through original posts, sharing other users' content, and joining conversations, you probably shouldn't be there.

If someone visits your YouTube Channel, Twitter account or Facebook page and sees it hasn't been updated in months, they're going to wonder if you're still in business. Be sure to update your social media accounts regularly with new content, even if you're simply sharing or commenting on other people's posts. And consider scheduling posts in advance to save time.

Doing too much, too soon

We want our potential customers to be able to find us, so it's natural to want to make sure your business is also seen everywhere. That said, having too many social media accounts is a lot for a small business to take on. Keep your efforts simple to start - perhaps starting with one social media platform that is used by the people you are trying to engage. If your customers are business people, consider starting with LinkedIn. If you're targeting parents, consider Facebook. Research different social media platforms to find out which ones your audiences are using, by:

As your confidence using social media grows, or if you grow your business to a point where you can hire help, add more platforms.

Too many cross-posts

Cross-posting - or automatically sharing the same content across several social media platforms - is certainly efficient. The challenge, however, is that it doesn't allow you to tailor your message to each social media platform. A headline that works well for a post on Facebook may not provide enough information on Twitter, or provide the right context to convince people to click through your link. If it's too long, you risk your headline being cut off to accommodate the link to your post. And - frankly - it just looks lazy.

You also miss the opportunity to use hashtags that better promote your content on other platforms. When you're on a social media platform, you want to provide information that attracts attention long enough for people to stop scrolling by. Cross-posts rarely achieve that.

Missing the opportunity to engage

Many marketers post updates focused on what their businesses are doing, and wonder why they don't see much engagement from their followers. People reading your posts are looking for information about how your business benefits them. Consider your posts from your audience's point of view - what services are you able to provide them? Why is your business their best choice?

Also try to avoid being too stiff, or formal, in your language. You do want to make sure you’ve caught any proofreading errors – and you want to use proper grammar – but you don’t want to be so polished, that you’re unapproachable. Think of how you want customers to feel when they walk through your business’s front door. They’re your guests online, so when you build your website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile – whatever you choose to do – it’s important to make them feel welcome.

Working without a strategy

If you don't have a current business plan or digital marketing strategy, create one. Otherwise, you're shooting without a target - and you have no way of prioritizing your efforts or measuring whether or not the work you're doing is helping you achieve your business goals. An advisor at your local Small Business Development Center can provide free advice to help you start to build your business plan.

Expecting too much, too soon

It can take some time to find your niche online, and to make your voice heard over your competition. For example, it can take months of blogging once a week to develop your first lead. So don't rush it - focus on engaging people online, instead.

When you get busy, it's easy to slide promoting your business further and further to the side of your desk. But if you're going to be online, you need to be active and engaged. If a customer visits your Twitter or Facebook feed (or your website) and sees it hasn't been updated in some time, they may start wondering if you're still in business.

If you're not sure where to start, get expert advice. We can help you with that!

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