Category Archives: business social media

BIG Things Small Businesses Overlook on Social Media

business manager managing company social media profileFacebook. Twitter. Instagram. Linkedin. Pinterest.

Social media sites are full of failed business profiles that are abandoned, full of negativity, or just full of junk. It’s impossible to know the reason behind every single botched social media attempt, but there are a lot of businesses out there—primarily small companies—who jump in to social media without thinking about these important parts of social media.

Answering messages

Most companies start a social media presence with a clear sales goal. There are ways to achieve this on social media with testimonials, images of products or services delivered, creative posts. However, many companies overlook the most direct approach: answering messages from potential customers.

Remember, customers (and potential customers) reach out to businesses with questions through whatever means is convenient for them—even if it’s not always the company’s preferred method. Select an employee or manager (carefully) who is trained to handle customer service inquiries. Connect an e-mail to company social media profiles so the employee receives notifications of new messages. If there is not a suitable employee or a manager that has time, contact a marketing company that can manage the social media profile (including responding to messages after contacting the business).

Respond to them as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, and the social media network has the capability, leave an auto-respond message that indicates when a response is coming (such as during business hours). Make it a top priority to respond promptly (within a few hours) BEFORE the customer moves on to the competition.

Negative comments and reviews

As much as company managers look forward to the sunshine of social media, there is a down side to marketing on social media. Social media is a two-way conversation; negative comments and reviews, unfortunately, are part of the process. Dealing with unhappy customers is also a key reason to choose the employee who responds on social media carefully (or why to put social media messages in the hands of marketing pros).

When a customer does post a negative comment or review, the general rule is to respond. The response should include a sincere sorry (even if it’s just for what they’re going through) and an offer—if possible—to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer to private message if more information is needed. There are a few exceptions to the ‘always respond’ rule, such as if the comment or review is an act of revenge (i.e. from a former employee, angry friend or family member). On Facebook, the option to review a business can be turned off if the negativity becomes overwhelming. This shouldn’t be the first choice, however, as there is value in maintaining a social media profile with positive testimonials.

Amount of time it takes

Successful companies on social media make it look easy; from an outside standpoint, managing multiple social media profiles—and getting results from them—can appear simple. The truth is not so simple. The first step is choosing the right social media sites with the company’s target audience. From there, a solid social media presence requires quality images, videos, hash tags (when appropriate), responses…all posted at the right time (when followers are online) on a regular basis. A successful social media presence requires a plan that follows the company’s sales cycle (here’s how to craft a complete online marketing plan). In short, a successful social media presence requires time.

If the answer is in-house, a company manager should take care to choose the right employee who can maintain a regular posting schedule. If there is no one on staff who has the time or expertise, outsource the effort to an experienced marketing company.

What should I post to social media? What do people want to see?

light bulb of social media ideas above girlIt’s the million dollar question “what on earth should I post to social media today?”—especially on days when you feel like you have less than zero ideas for social media posts for your business.  What’s more, the stakes are higher.  With thousands of other brands to compete with, as well as the million other posts that fill up your followers, it’s hard to find the social media ideas that give your brand the edge—and sometimes it’s hard to find anything to post about.

We’ve compiled a list of social media ideas that can spark your inspiration—and the start of a slew of quality social media posts (all carefully planned out-here’s how to create a solid marketing plan).  If you’re tired of continually searching for ideas—and trying to keep up with the freight train that is digital marketing—remember, there is always the choice that gives you a break: outsource your efforts (or even part of your marketing) to the pros.

  1. Photos your followers can caption
  2. Pictures of your employees at work
  3. Share photos from events your business sponsors or is involved in
  4. How-to videos
  5. Pictures that help celebrate a national day (i.e. national donut day, national pet day, etc.)
  6. A picture that leaves users guessing—then ask them for their guesses (i.e. number of candies in the candy jar, number of items on a pallet, etc.)
  7. Historical pictures of your business or early employees
  8. Pictures of your products
  9. Ask people for a prediction
  10. “Inside scoop” video (for new products, inside new location, etc.)
  11. Sneak peak photos (i.e. pictures of part of an address sign from a new location, photos of part of a new product)
  12. Share articles that you find helpful
  13. Memes
  14. Testimonials from customers
  15. Funny things from the workday
  16. News articles about your company
  17. Industry news
  18. Fill in the blank
  19. Ask for feedback on new products or services
  20. Blog post (from your blog)
  21. Reminder about valuable page on your website
  22. Link to a photo gallery
  23. Photos from the past year (a look back)
  24. Reminder about an upcoming date
  25. Unique fact about your business or product
  26. Post with day-theme (i.e. Motivation Monday, Throwback Thursday, etc.)

How can I use social media to connect with local customers?

Female customer with plastic cards and shopping bags looking for local businessFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat…all the major social media sites have been touted as the ultimate world-wide connector—and for good reason.  On Facebook alone, statistics show that more than one billion people around the world are active users.  As great as that huge statistic is, if you’re a local business owner or manager, it does little toward meeting your goal of using social media to connect with your local customers and, ultimately, increase your sales.  That’s when it’s time to use a more targeted approach to connect with your local customers on social media so they come back—and to attract new customers in the process.

Share posts and tweets about local events.

If your company is an active part of your community, show it.  Share posts and tweets about local events in your area.  This tactic has a two-fold benefit: 1) it shows you are involved in your local community 2) it gives your customers information they want to see.  This strategy comes with a note of caution, however: be smart about how much you share local events.  You don’t want to push your followers away because they are sick of the same old posts about the same events over and over again.  Share a post or tweet every once in awhile to showcase the event, or to make your customers aware of a need in the community (and a chance to help).

Use social ads.

There is value in using social ads to reach your local customers.  Make sure your ads are targeted locally and relevant (if you don’t know how, outsource your efforts).  Don’t pound your audience over the head with endless advertisements; use ads strategically to boost relevant events or information you know your customers want to see (but can’t because of the decrease in organic business page reach).

Embrace local reviews.

A positive review of your product is worth its weight in gold—especially in the eyes of potential customers looking for a local service or product that can fix their problem.  Enjoy every positive local review, and ask for more.  Make an in-person ask or a sign requesting your customers leave reviews after you’ve helped them, and respond to their reviews and requests as soon as possible (good customer service and interactions spur more!).

Make your live video feeds and videos local news-worthy.

Video is the wave of the future, so use it to your advantage.  Produce videos that catch your audience’s attention about local going-ons and information they care about.  If you have an event, involve your participants in your video for a fun interaction.  If you don’t have the time or the know-how to make that happen, contract your efforts out to the marketing experts that do.

Integrate social media with other local marketing efforts.

One of the most effective ways to use social media to reach your local customers is to integrate it with your other local marketing efforts (we’ve given you a full list of ways to reach your local customers).  One idea: use your social media channels to drive people to the gallery on your website or use your social media to showcase your content marketing efforts (which optimizes your website for search engines).  Here’s how to craft a strategic integrated marketing plan that accomplishes your local goal. Social media helps you connect the dots—between your marketing efforts and you and your local customers.

Step by Step: How to Get Your Business Up & Selling on Social Media

popular social media icons on tablet screen ready for business ready to useYou just sign up your business up for social media and….


The fact that you’re reading this post means you’re looking for the answer to that question.  The answer isn’t always a million followers and a zillion sales for your business—unless you take a more strategic jump into the world of social media.

Make a plan with a goal.

Too many businesses wander into social media, and keep wandering because they have no goal.  Social media should not feel like you’re trying to find your way through a dark room with a blindfold on.  Crafting a plan with a goal eliminates that, and gives you guidance as you choose the right social media posts and create content for social media.

Use the SMART acronym to choose your goal.  The S in SMART is for specific; be as specific as possible about what you hope to achieve.  M is measurable; your goal should be something you are able to measure so your have a clear idea of how far/close you’ve come to reaching it.  The latter sentiment takes us to the next letter in our acronym, attainable.  As much as you want to reach 1 million followers, remember that social media is a marathon effort not a sprint.  Set a goal you can reach.  R is for relevant; your goal should be in line with your business goals.  T is for timely.  When do you want to reach your goal?

Write your goals down, and create a calendar with tactics that help you reach your goal.  Be flexible as you follow your calendar; the best brands on social media (wisely) choose content that is relevant to their audience’s “right now.”

Do your research.

Who do you want to reach?  Who is your audience?  Instead of jumping on board every social media channel you don’t have time for, be more strategic.  Think about who your audience is, and choose the social media channel with the demographic that helps you reach that audience.

As you do your research, don’t buy into the one-size-fits-all notion that you can simply link two social media channels to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.  Each social media channel is different, and you’re going to achieve your goals if you cater your posts to that specific channel.  If you feel like you don’t know how to make that happen, contact the experts who can.  There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your efforts to a company who has the expertise about the specifics of each channel and can help you reach your social media goals.

Follow through.

This sounds simple enough, but “following through” on social media is the one challenge that we see businesses repeatedly have problems with.  (That’s usually why they contact us.)  Most businesses start with good intentions, filling their social media channels with posts…until they don’t.  Suddenly their social media channels go silent, and they’re not achieving the goals they set out to achieve.

To help (but not replace) with regular social media posts, use automation to your advantage.  Use services like Hootsuite or Buffer to automate your posts so you can post regularly and get the results you signed up to achieve (or contact someone who can).

If you want to achieve results, don’t just sell on social media (more tips for solid social media presence here). While you set out to sell your products on social media, you have to post relevant and regular content that your audience cares about—and leads you to your ultimate social media goal.

Why Facebook Isn’t Always Right for Your Company

happy businessman jumping into social media for companyWhen business owners see—or start to hear about—the benefits of social media for business, their first inclination is to jump on board.  It makes sense, especially with all the goals that can be achieved with a solid social media presence.

There is one down side to just jumping in to social media: the step of choosing what social media site is right for the business is completely overlooked.  Instead, most people tend to sign up for the biggest site so they can cast a big net, or the social media site they have a personal profile on.

That’s when you need to just slow down.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that Facebook is the wrong site for every business (we’re not!).  We’ve achieved great things for many businesses on Facebook.  What we are saying is that when you’re considering signing your business up for social media, your first step should be deciding what site or sites is right for you—and how many sites you can manage well.

Choosing the right social media site(s)

social media sites behind smart phoneMatching your business to the right social media site (or sites) is a match made in heaven, because it allows you to reach the people who like—and want to buy—your products.  They’re your target audience—and should be your social media focus.

That’s the problem with jumping on the biggest site, or the site you have a personal profile on.  If your target audience isn’t on that social media site (more info on social media sites and key demographics in this infographic), you’re not going to engage with the people you want—and want you.

Are you a hair salon or bridal shop? Consider Pinterest, where images and a mostly-female demographic fit with your product. Sports team? Consider Twitter where fans are waiting for your 140-character updates.

Worse for your business is when you jump on that site, or all the major social media sites, and then discover you don’t have time.  An abandoned Facebook page, Twitter profile, or any other business page isn’t going to get you results—and it looks bad to anyone who happens upon your abandoned site.

What makes a solid social media presence


A good social media plan for your business revolves around two key factors: target audience and business calendar. Knowing your target audience facilitates 1) choosing social media sites; 2) selecting the right tone for your audience; 3) determining what content you create and post to social media that fits your audience.

A good social media marketing plan follows the 80/20 or 70/30 rule. Twenty percent of your posts should be promotional and 80% entertaining (if appropriate), relevant and valuable to your audience.

Scheduling tool

To execute a stellar and efficient social media plan, sign up for a good scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Don’t schedule your social media posts too far in advance so you can stay on top of trending topics.  When necessary, be flexible when needed.

Hash tags

On certain social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, hash tags are not optional —at least not for anyone (or business) who wants to gain traction on social media. Posts with relevant hash tags can expose your post to potential followers interested in your industry or topic. Hash tags are also invaluable when starting a conversation, running a photo contest, promoting an event, or executing a coordinated social media campaign. Create original hash tags without any “online baggage” (i.e. used before with negative connotations, taken from a competitor) and promote them through an integrated marketing campaign that includes online and offline marketing efforts.

Quality images

Social media posts with images have been proven time and again to receive significantly more engagement than posts without. Use this social media image cheat sheet to create images optimal for your social media network, and be very selective about the images you create or choose. Don’t just pull random images off the internet; this can lead to serious legal repercussions (more about image copyright info by Hootsuite here).

If you decide Pinterest or Instagram is right for your business, don’t just worry about size; worry about the quality of your images. These social media networks are visual networks, and you won’t get results unless you have high-quality images and attention-grabbing text.

Regular posts/Time

Your social media plan isn’t going to gain momentum if you’re present for a period and gone for awhile.  Inconsistent social media posts are going to get you nowhere if you take the feast and famine approach.  Put simply, great social media execution requires regular time—and not just when you have the time.

The definition of “regular” depends on the social media site you are on. Whatever site—and the frequency of your posts—you find works for your company, choose quality posts over quantity. Twenty ‘junk’ tweets or posts won’t get you results (except for bogus followers) if your tweets aren’t valuable and relevant. If you don’t have time to produce and find quality posts, outsource your efforts for optimal social media results on the right site for your business.

12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Results on Social Media

Frustrated businessman in eyeglasses touching his head because he doesn't have any followers on social media“Why am I am not getting results on social media?”  “Why don’t I have any followers?”  Why doesn’t my business page get likes?” “Why don’t people like my posts?”  “How come my tweets don’t get retweeted?” “How can I get people to engage?”

There’s about a million different versions of these questions we hear from companies, usually accompanied by a healthy level of frustration.  If you’ve thought some of the same things—or vocalized them—this is the post for you.  While we can’t give you a specific reason social media isn’t working for you, (not without looking at your specific profiles, just ask us) we can give you some of the most common reasons businesses are not getting the results they set out to achieve on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, and Pinterest.

You’re not where they are

One of the most common mistakes we see is from company owners and managers that choose a social media channel that they have personal profiles on—but not their customers.  Or they try to choose the biggest fish in social media, so they can try to reach as many people as possible; in reality, very few people in their target audience is on that social media site.  The result is a social media page targeted at customers but followed by friends and colleagues with minimal engagement.

The resolution: know who you want to reach, and research social media sites to find out what social media site has the demographics that fit with your target audience.

You don’t have a strategy

Too many companies jump on social media without a goal.  They’re on social media because everyone else is, or because it’s free.  The result is a mishmash of posts, little engagement, and a generic tone that doesn’t sound real and authentic.

The resolution: before you jump on social media, or as you make an evaluation of your marketing efforts, set a goal for your efforts and define the audience you want to reach.  You can set different goals for each of your social media channels and sub-goals for each of your marketing campaigns.  If you’re outsourcing your social media efforts, give input so you and your marketing team is all on the same page.

You don’t communicate with your social media marketing team

“There,” you think, “They can take care of my social media.  They know it better than me.  I don’t have to do anything!”  You’re partially correct; an expert social media team can manage your social media page and use their expertise to reach your audience.  However, they can’t do so without a key ingredient: personalization.  That’s what’s going to make your business stand out among all the choices they have to make.

The resolution: make an effort to meet or communicate with your in-house or outsourced social media marketing team on a regular basis.  Connect them with your sales or retail team so they understand what your customers want to know (frequently asked questions), the solutions to those problems, and your sales cycle.

You take the feast-or-famine approach

This issue is pretty easy to diagnose.  Look at your social media activity.  Do you post whenever you have time?  Is there regular activity on your social media account, followed by weeks of nothing?  Or do you post on one social media channel, while your other social media sites are a barren wasteland?

The resolution: when you set your strategy, select a manageable amount of social media sites.  You don’t have to be on every social media site to get results; choose the sites that fit the demographic of the audience you’re trying to reach.  Create a calendar of regular social media posts and content marketing that fit with your sales cycle—and stick to it.  The key to a solid social media strategy is regular and relevant posts.

You’re overselling

One of the biggest turn-offs of a business social media page is overselling.  Every post, every tweet, every interaction is about you, your products, and how they should buy from you.  Would you want a salesman screaming “buy, buy, buy!” at you over and over again?

The resolution: your business name may be on the social media page, but the page should not be about you.  Focus on your audience.  What do they want to know?  What makes them laugh (when appropriate)?  What can you do to help them?  If you need assistance with creating a customer-focused social media page, consult with social media experts who can help you decide who your target audience is, how you can attract them to your page, what kind of content they are interested in, and what times is best for posting.  Then, use the 80/20 rule as a guideline: 80% relevant content, 20% selling content.

You’re posting “stuff” they don’t care about

Blah, blah, blah.  If you’re posting boring content on your social media page, your followers are going to find someone else who posts what they want.  Know your audience, and what interests them.  One way to find this out is to listen to customers when they come in the store—or to talk to employees who interact with them on a regular basis.

The resolution: before you post, ask yourself, “does this content matter to me, or to my audience?”  Find relevant content that matters to your audience, and watch your pages to find out what resonates with your audience—and what doesn’t it.  Or create it by including content marketing as part of your online marketing plan.

You’re using sub-par images

Grainy images.  Boring pictures.  Social media is full of sub-par images that don’t resonate with their audience.  At the same time, statistics have shown that posts and tweets with images repeatedly get more engagement.

The resolution: find someone on your staff that can take excellent photos with their camera or mobile device (tablet, phone, etc.) or buy stock images that coordinate with your posts.  Another option is to outsource your efforts to an online marketing agency that has a wide variety of photos just for that purpose.

You bought followers

This is the equivalent of a ‘get rich quick’ scheme on social media, and a ploy that a lot of businesses fall for.  Just buy social media followers, and suddenly you have a huge social media following!  Poof! You’re set for the long-run.

The resolution: buying followers is a short-term effort that won’t help you reach your marketing goal.  Instead, try to build a strong targeted social media audience by spreading the word about your social media efforts through in-person and electronic interactions with customers (i.e. e-mails, e-newsletters, sales interactions, phone calls, etc.)

You’re not posting when they’re on

You post whenever you think of it, or whenever you have time.

The resolution: don’t just know what social media site your customers are on, but when they are on.  You can use insights on Facebook, measurement tools that monitor your followers’ activity, and testing on your own to determine when they are on and engaging with your brand.  If you don’t have the time to post when your followers are on, use scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer.

You have unrealistic expectations

Everyone wants to get on social media and BOOM! one of your posts goes viral.  The heavens pour down with followers willing to buy your product and services.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  That’s what most business owners and managers seem to expect from marketing on social media.  Unfortunately, that’s not how social media works (most of the time)—and often the followers you get are not interested in purchasing.

The resolution: take every measure possible to get results, but understand that social media is a marathon—not a sprint.  Set realistic goals for social media, such as messages that result in sales or a reasonable growth pattern that is in line with brand awareness.

You’re not responsive

Unanswered messages.  Comments with no response.  Every comment, message, tweet….it’s all an opportunity to engage with your customers and colleagues.  Don’t pass up these missed opportunities to build customer loyalty and show you care.  Your customers expect you to respond, and respond quickly.

The resolution: social media is supposed to be about conversations, so make sure you converse with your colleagues and customers.  Take our advice on dealing with negativity, and respond to every message and comment with a real voice so they know they are talking to a real person.  Even if you outsource your social media marketing, make sure you pay attention and respond quickly to inquiries (find more rules for excellent online customer service).

You’ve mixed business and anger

You’re angry about a customer reaction, so you post on social media how peeved you are.  A political situation leaves you seething, and all your social media followers know—and don’t like it.  Knee-jerk reactions may make you feel better, but a rash reaction to a comment or current event is not going to gain you followers on social media.

The resolution: there are two R’s to follow in social media marketing, and ranting is not one of them.  Be professional and real (you can be both) in all your social media interactions, and think through everything you post or comment BEFORE you take action.  Respond quickly, however, as customers respond a fast reaction.  If you have any questions, consult with the professionals before you post.