Social media can be pretty intimidating for time-strapped business owners. While it’s important to learn from mistakes, what if there was a list that could help you side-step some common pitfalls?
Step forward the seven deadly sins of social media – the vices that can be particularly destructive to the soul of a business (and your bottom line).
1.Pride: Excessive self-promotion and arrogance
It’s important to strike the right balance between showcasing your achievements, while being genuinely interested in engaging your audience. Posts that display excessive self-centredness and arrogance can lead to a sense of superiority and disregard for others’ perspectives.
Celebrate achievements modestly. Sharing milestones and accomplishments should be shared, but in a way that reflects humility. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to talk positively about your business, but always ask yourself: ‘Is this overly self-promotional?’ before hitting the publish button. Instead, express gratitude and acknowledge the contributions of your team, partners or customers that helped you achieve those milestones.
While promoting your business on your social channels is important, don’t forget to also provide valuable content to your audience. Give them a reason to follow each of your channels (they can read the marketing messages on your website!). Share educational resources, industry insights, tips and useful information that can benefit your followers. Actively engage in meaningful conversations with them by responding to comments, messages and mentions. Encourage discussions and show genuine interest in their opinions and feedback. This activity demonstrates humility and a willingness to learn from others.
Maintaining a balance between pride and humility requires authenticity and genuine intentions. Be mindful of your tone, messaging and interactions, ensuring that they align with your brand values and resonate positively with your audience.
2. Envy: Unhealthy comparisons
Feeling resentful or jealous of others’ achievements, appearances or experiences that are showcased on social media can lead to low self-esteem, unhealthy comparisons and a sense of inadequacy.
Instead, conduct competitor analysis to be inspired by those whose hard work is paying off. You don’t even have to focus your research on direct competitors – take a look at other small businesses. How do they engage with their audience? What techniques do they use? What’s their tone of voice like? Park the green-eyed monster and focus on some healthy competitor analysis instead. Take your learnings forward within your own business.
3. Wrath: Displaying anger, hostility or engaging in online conflicts
Often fuelled by controversial topics, differing opinions or perceived injustices, wrath can lead to online harassment, bullying or the spreading of negativity. Don’t use social media platforms (professional or personal) to show hostility online (not that you would!) – or respond to those that are. You are an extension of your business, so be mindful of how you conduct your conversations from both your professional social channels, as well as your personal ones. Things can be misinterpreted and escalate particularly quickly online – never display anger, no matter how justified you might feel.
Instead, take a breath, think of a solution and liaise directly with the complainant in a mature and professional way.
4. Sloth: Engaging in laziness or inactivity
If your target audience is active on social media – you need to be, too. However, don’t create social media channels you can’t maintain. Seeing that a company last posted two years ago reflects poorly on a business’s attention to detail and commitment to customer engagement.
Not only do you need a strategy in place for the social channels your audience is most active on, but you need to keep a close eye on the community management side of things. If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to social media, don’t go into sloth-mode. Rather close your accounts then have them live and be redundant. If budget allows, consider investing in a social media professional to join your team. If it’s not a role you’re in a position to hire just yet, consider an experienced social media freelancer or agency that can work on specific projects with you. For example, you might look to use an agency or consultant to create your social media strategy with you, helping you launch your new channels and maintaining them for a set number of hours each week.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs looking to reduce outgoings in the early days should consider a social media scheduling tool and dedicate a specific day/time each week to committing to creating and scheduling social media content. (N.B. you still need to keep a close eye on the community management side of things. Keep checking your upcoming scheduled content, as unexpected events in the news, or internally as a company, might mean some scheduled posts become inappropriate.)
Don’t forget your personal network, too. Do you have friends, family or ex-colleagues that you’re close with who are pretty clued up on social media? Could you take them for a coffee to pick their brain?
We all have that freeze response when overwhelmed – make sure you take on social media when you have the capacity or resources to.