The #1 Small Business Social Media Mistake

social media promotions bullhorn

Think about the last time you scrolled through your social media feed. How many local businesses do you follow? How many of them post photos of their products on a daily basis? How many of them post stock photos? Or studio shots? A picture of a generic man who was paid to smile and hold a cup of coffee?

Most of them.

Sell. Promote. Discount. It’s the biggest social media mistake small business owners make.

It’s a shame. By constantly promoting small business owners are missing out on the true potential social media has. When a customer comes into your store, how much time do you actually have to interact with them? Five minutes?

BUT what if you could build a relationship with your customers at all times of the day, even when they’re not inside your physical location?

That’s the magic of social media. Social media isn’t a place to sell your product, it’s a place for you to build a RELATIONSHIP with your customers. Think about that for a second. Think about the opportunity there.

I shouldn’t have to tell you twice that relationships are where you build your business. Relationships lead to loyal customers and loyal customers lead to repeat sales and recommendations. Magic, indeed.

The Value of a Social Media Feed

A person’s social media feed is a very special place. Think about it. All the major social media networks (except Twitter) use a variety of algorithms to determine what content you see when you log on. The algorithms are built to help users curate their feeds based on the content they like and comment on. Every time they engage with a post they tell Facebook and Instagram, “I like this. Show me more.” As a result, users are rewarded with feeds just as unique as they are.

Though my husband and I share dozens of Facebook friends, our feeds are completely different. My feed is full of posts about running, health, fitness, and triathlon. His feed is full of funny memes, people poking fun of politicians and funny videos from Barstool Sports.

Your presence on someone’s social media feed is a place of honor. Anyone or business that continuously makes the cut must have a special place in your heart. 

For real.

Gotta-Check-Social Media Syndrome

Think about all the times you compulsively pull our your phone for no reason other than sheer habit. Standing in line at the grocery store? When your kids are at the park? Sitting still at a stoplight? All the times your brain is trying to relax.

No one wants to see your endless promotions in their face when they’re trying to relax. And Facebook knows that. Facebook knows that if all you see are advertisements when you sign on that you won’t log on as often. Facebook is smart, y’all. If you’re constantly putting discount offer language in your posts or posting nothing but sales language Facebook will throttle back your reach. Never underestimate the intelligence of the algorithm!

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Three Things People Want in Their Social Media Feeds

People go to social media to fill their downtime. When they’re bored or need cheering up. They use social media when they’re most vulnerable – when their brains aren’t thinking about nothing else. And a bored brain is an impressionable brain.

What do people want to see when they’re bored?

1. Entertainment. Anything that will make them laugh or think. Memes. Funny pictures. Cat videos. Crabs on a baggage claim. See below. 
2. Community. People they know and care about. Pictures of friends, places they love, etc.
3. Value. Information that enriches their life. Tips from an expert. In-the-know information. Motivational quotes.

Notice there’s no category for Buy-My-Stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your products or services. It just needs to be done strategically.

I can’t stop watching the crabs, y’all. They crack me up!

Social Media Rule of Thirds

Okay, so how do I promote my product or business?

Your very presence in a social media feed is promotion. Your logo, your content, your language is all a part of your branding. Branding leads to familiarity. Familiarity leads to relationships.  And relationships leads to sales.

A good way to keep your social media content varied is to use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds states that only 1/3 of your content should be promotional, the other 2/3 should be shared among the entertainment, community, and value categories. Think of it this way – 1/3 promotions, 1/3 stories, 1/3 interactions, especially on a challenging and competitive channel like Facebook. That means if you post 3 times a week, only one of them should be self-promotion.

Tell the story of your business. Feature employees and loyal customers. Behind the scenes antics. Victories (and failures). Birthday parties. Industry tips and insights. Occasionally, throw in pictures of your product with a call to action (CTA) – but not more than 33% of the time.

Self Promotion Has a Place in Social Media

There are a few exceptions to the rule of thirds though.

The first would be Instagram. Since Instagram is such a visual platform centered around beautiful images, if you have a visually appealing product taking beautiful product photos and posting them accordingly is not only acceptable but encouraged. Hashtags like #outfitoftheday #instafashion #foodporn #instafood #delicious are all appropriate for beautiful self-promotional photos.

Hundreds of Instagram specific hashtags are out there to help you promote your products, all you have to do is search your specific industry on a hashtag platform. My favorite is, but, Ritetag, and Trendsmap are all awesome. Hint: Trendsmap is especially good for small businesses as it will tell you what’s trending in your local area.

The second is Facebook Groups. People join Facebook groups because they’re interested in a specific topic and want content from that group posted in their feed. Facebook Groups are EXPLODING in popularity. To find groups that apply to your business, type your business category followed by the word “groups” in the search bar. For example: if you own a restaurant, coffee shop or other food establishment look for local foodie groups. Be sure to read the group rules first, you don’t want to get kicked out!

The third is paid ads. This includes ad campaigns and boosted/promoted posts. Paying for content placement will encourage platforms to push your content to people who don’t already follow your brand or who haven’t engaged lately. 

PROTIP: If someone “likes” your promoted post or ad and they haven’t already followed your business be sure to invite them to do so! It’s a great way to get build an engaged audience!

If I still haven’t convinced you to re-evaluate your social media promotional strategy, I have a post coming up next month you need to read called “How to Ruin your Facebook Page in 3 Easy Steps.” Because you can. And once it’s broken there’s almost no fixing it.

Outsourcing Your Social Media

If this is confusing, consider outsourcing your social media management to a professional. 

We specialize in social media marketing for small brick and mortar businesses. We work directly with business owners and managers to make sure your social media feeds have a good variety of content including those much coveted self promotional posts!

We believe that doing social media the right way involves the collaboration of the social media manager, business owner, store manager, and hourly employees. We work directly with the business owner to set solid social media goals and use that strategy to empower the store manager and hourly employees to contribute to content creation. Once the content is created we bring it all together into the larger schedule, ending with caption creation, hashtag research and scheduling. 

All our packages come with social media training! Let us work with your business to grow your reach and meet your goals!

Want to learn more about our social media packages? Click HERE>

The Summary

It may be tempting to push your products and services on your social media channels but if you throttle back your sales posts and engage your customers with RELATIONSHIP BUILDING content you’ll see the benefits of social media reap far beyond individual sales. It’s an engine that can power your business for years!

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