Almost every small business owner understands how powerful social media can be when it comes to marketing, building customer trust and cultivating a direct communication line to consumers. According to Hootsuite, over half of all businesses use a form of social advertising. This makes sense as there are more than 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram alone. However, there are a few things that most small business owners get wrong about social media that could be having detrimental effects on brand image and sales.

All too often we see small business owners focusing exclusively on being marketers on social media, rather than working to understand customers or users. As a result of this, their posts and interactions seem inauthentic and salesy which can erode consumer trust.

To avoid going down the wrong path, here are 5 things most small business owners get wrong about social media and what you can do to change that.

Forgetting to Listen or the Search Function

One of the worst things a small business owner can do on social media is to forget to listen to users by ignoring the search feature. There are quite literally billions of people on social media every day voicing their concerns, opinions and asking for services! These are likely services you provide, and the best way to find people asking for them is by searching for keywords and reaching out to social media users.

Head over to Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube and run a quick search for ‘need a graphic designer’ and you’d be surprised just how many potential clients pop up.

Now that you know about the search feature’s potential, be sure to utilise it when you form new service offerings, products or during outreach programs. Social media is the holy grail when it comes to understanding a potential customer’s needs and wants and the search feature provides essential insight.

Offering Nothing in Return for Likes and Follows

We’re now living in a time when social media is completely ubiquitous and there is a certain etiquette that must be followed, especially for businesses. Users on social media already have timelines, dashboards, and feeds that are completely clogged with posts – so why should they add your business to their feeds just because you ask?

Far too many businesses, in fact just about all of them, focus on blatantly asking for likes and follows without offering anything in return. As a small business, you need to reform the way you plan to grow your follower count, and there’s no better way than to actually offer something of worth.

No more ‘Like us on Facebook’ posts! Entice likes and follows by providing relevant, actionable content that will make customers like your page because they actually find it useful. Only then should you passively suggest liking or following.

Neglecting to Ask for Opinions

We already know that social media is opinion central, so use this to your advantage. Most social media platforms favour engagement, which means asking for comments and opinions won’t only give you some insight, but it will get your posts into the feeds of more users.

When you post a photo, discount code or something else on social media, do your best to phrase it in the form of a question. This way, even if users are sarcastic or commenting with random answers, you are still boosting engagement and getting your post more buzz.

Posting Text-only Updates

If there’s one way to grab the attention of users, it’s with imagery. If you’re a small business looking to get as many click-throughs to your website as possible, you need to entice users with relevant video or images that accompany your text posts and links. Just think back to the last time you completely stopped scrolling to read a text-only post. The chances are you probably didn’t even see it.

Our suggestion here is to either take advantage of royalty free images or take photos of the products or services you’re selling and pair them with a text post and also a link. When users are scrolling down their feeds, you’re going to grab their attention right away and get them to click on your link.

Only Logging in When it’s Time to Post

A huge issue arises when small business owners neglect to actually use their business social media accounts. If you’re only logging in once or twice a week to post a photo and not spending any time on the platforms, you’re going to have a major engagement issue.

As a small business owner, you need to have social media management on the top of your marketing agenda. You have to know what consumers are saying, listening to conversations in comment sections and sometimes even joining the conversation.