“You like me! You really like me!” Sally Fields’ legendary Oscar acceptance speech has been quoted thousands of times, but since the advent of social media, her poignant words have even more meaning, especially for businesses.
Thanks to the proliferation of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others, businesses of all sizes, from major corporations to small mom-and-pop shops, have jumped on the social media bandwagon and actively sought followers. In some cases, getting as many people as possible to “like” your business on Facebook has become even more important than running advertisements.
However, it’s not enough to simply get customers — or potential customers — to like your page or product. Even if you have thousands of fans and followers, if you make these mistakes, you aren’t going to get the results you want from social media.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Plan
Most social media applications are free. That’s part of their appeal, both for marketers and for users. However, as a business owner, your time isn’t free. If you don’t have a plan for what you want to accomplish on social media, and how you are going to do it, then the sites just become time wasters — and present the risk of diluting your message when customers only see random posts and comments. Instead, develop a plan for how you plan to leverage your social media presence and how you will use it. You need to get your business message right from the start. Don’t forget to include a means for measuring your success, so you will know when to stay on the same path or when to try something new.
Mistake #2: Being Too “Businesslike”
You’re a business. You have an image you want to convey and a message you want to send. But if you focus too much on maintaining your message, your followers will be quickly turned off. One reason that social media is such a powerful tool for businesses is that it allows for relationship-building with customers and gives businesses and individuals insight into what customers think, like and want. Social media is a conversation — but if you come across as an automaton who only wants to talk about next week’s online shipping special, you’re never going to build those relationships. To keep the conversation going, acknowledge all of your customers’ comments, validate their concerns or show gratitude for their support and remain authentic in your communication while still remaining polite and professional.
Mistake #3: Ignoring the Negative
Consider this: a restaurant customer has a bad experience in one of a chain’s locations. The customer takes to Facebook and posts a complaint on the chain’s Facebook page about his experience. Hundreds of other users echo the sentiment and “like” or comment on the post.
As a business owner, what do you do? Ignore the post, and hope it goes away? Delete it? Offer a half-hearted apology that places most of the blame on the customer? Hopefully you already know that these are not options. Any of these actions is a huge mistake. One of social media users’ biggest gripes is being ignored by businesses, and in some cases, your failure to respond to a legitimate complaint or concern can be worse than the original problem.
The solution is to acknowledge every comment on your page and take steps to rectify customer concerns and complaints. If someone has a specific complaint, ask if you can contact them privately to resolve the situation. If major companies like Southwest Airlines can respond to negative social media comments within minutes, so can you.
Mistake #4: Not Going All In
Major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer robust tools for businesses, allowing them to create complete, well-branded profiles. If you aren’t using these tools, you’re doing your business a disservice. Besides, if your profile is incomplete, not only does it reflect poorly on your business, it also affects how often you appear in search results.
Mistake #5: Getting Frustrated
You have hundreds, even thousands of customers. People love you. So why aren’t they liking your page? It takes time and a sincere effort to engage with users to build a following. Chances are you won’t have millions of followers the day you hang your social media shingle. Don’t get frustrated and give up. Set goals, make your page worth liking and the followers will come.
In terms of marketing tools, social media is still relatively new — and changing every day. Business owners who understand the basics, though, have a better chance of achieving the results and being able to say “You like me … you really like me!”