In today’s digital business lifestyle where technology is constantly being improved, social media marketing can be a great medium that you can use to promote your business, services, and products. The social web is a great place where you can build valuable relationships with your target audience, increase the effectiveness of your customer service, and find new opportunities in generating sales or leads.

For many businesses, social media can be a great medium to facilitate the conversation between your business and your customers. It can also be used to build a level of loyalty and trust with your business. This all sounds wonderful and I’m sure you have read many articles on how great social media can be, but in all honesty, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. With this, many are making critical mistakes when stepping into the social web to promote their services, products, and to connect with their target audience.

Social media should never be done as a standalone strategy with its own silo for measurement. It should always be used to help you reach your business objectives. Find below a couple of reality points you should know about before you step into the social media game.

Social media isn’t a quick fix

If you are a small business owner, you now that time is money and usually there isn’t a big marketing budget to waste on untested campaigns. The first mistake many businesses are making when stepping into the social web for marketing purposes is thinking that because of all the pretty numbers – over 1 billion members on Facebook, over 500 million members on Twitter, Google+ over 300 million members, LinkedIn over 200 million members – social media should be a quick fix.

With all these pretty numbers, many are getting over excited about the potential of using social media. They sign up on all the top social media channels, they post updates, status updates, images, but they don’t get enough followers. They keep on posting about them and how good they are and they can’t figure out why they are not getting any attention with their social media campaign. These people fail to realize that social media isn’t a quick fix and it’s a long-term process that should be integrated into all of their other marketing strategies.

What does your audience say?

When you create a social media campaign that focuses only on sales and marketing, you have completely missed the boat. The main keyword in social media is “social”. If one of your business objectives is to generate more sales and leads, it needs to start with connecting to your audience. No one goes to their favourite social media channel to see constant sales messages. They go there to be social.

While there is nothing wrong with promoting your own products and services once in a while, never spend all your time only promoting yourself. Listen to what your audience is saying instead of just blasting them with sales messages. You must have heard this before, but listen first to what they are talking about and then respond by providing them with valuable information.

Set realistic goals

Be realistic with your social media campaign and don’t set goals that you won’t be able to achieve. Social media is not a simple push a button and be successful with it. It takes time and effort to run a successful social media campaign and integrating it into all of your other marketing activities. What do you want to achieve? How can social media help you achieve your business objectives? Write these down and always use your business objectives to help you steer in the right direction.

You don’t have to be on all the top channels

You don’t have to be on all the top social media channels to run your campaign. While it’s true that your reach can be wider, where does your audience spend most of their time when they are online? If you are a small business owner, it’s very likely that you will only have a limited amount of time, and manpower to devote to your social media campaign and being on every social media channel will not work for you.

You don’t have to be everywhere to be successful with social media. If you are and you have a couple of neglected social media profiles, it can do you more harm than good in the long run because people will notice this. Start with one or two social media channels that you would like to use to reach out to your customers.

Small businesses can move faster

While many small businesses do not have the staff power and money that large companies have, they do have advantages. They can be more personal, move faster, be more flexible, and also build stronger relationships with their target audience. If you are a small business owner, you most likely no the inside and outside of your services and products. Most of your tasks (marketing, finances) is done in-house, which means you are not outsourcing your social media campaign. This is a huge advantage because you understand what motivates your customers. You can create a more personal experience for your target audience than a big brand could ever do.

Social media takes time, persistence, and confidence. If you are a small business owner and considering social media, do it well, and you will reap the rewards.

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