I’m not pretending to be an expert on small/online businesses or how to make them flourish in the digital space. As Socrates once said, “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” I’m just over here in my corner trying to figure out how to make my dreams a reality. But because my business exists mostly online, and I rely heavily on social media to promote my work and interact with my audience, I get to see the habits and practices of other small businesses. Perhaps saying I know nothing about managing a business or creative venture online is a bit of an exaggeration because there are a couple social media practices I’ve observed that I know for sure have got to go.
1. Automated comments and DMs
I know social media is time-consuming. Commenting on people’s photos and manually sending a DM to every new follower can cut into your schedule. But nothing says, “I’m not actually interested in you or anything you post” more than an automated comment or DM. This is especially true for comments that are entirely irrelevant to the post you put them on. You just commented “So adorable” on an image of Donald Trump which I posted only to explain why I dislike him. Now, I’m thinking you’re either completely unable to understand context, or you couldn’t be bothered to actually read my content. Either way, I’m unimpressed. Make time to really interact with your followers.
2. Purchased followers
Let’s not pretend like any of us are believing that of your 30k followers, only 37 of them ever see and like your photos. I, like anyone else trying to build an audience, understand the value of followers and even why you buy them. Our generation is obsessed with popularity and perception, and the more followers you have, the more others think you’re worth paying attention to. But, and this is a big ol’ “but,” you’re not fooling anybody. Remember when Ma$e lost 1.5 million followers in the great Instagram purge of 2014? He was dragged to thy kingdom come. No one is impressed enough by fake followers to make spending your hard-earned cash on them worth it. And it doesn’t take a genius to spot the fakes. If you want followers, do something worth following. Skip the App Store purchase and funnel your time and dollars into creating quality content that will build your following authentically.
3. Useless newsletters
I generally will sign up for a newsletter/email updates if I visit a site and like their content. But nothing annoys me more than getting an email in my inbox that is an absolute waste of time. My inbox is a jungle. I don’t need anything in there that isn’t adding value of any kind. If you’re sending out a newsletter or emails, be sure that you’re actually giving your audience something they need and expect from you, whether that’s resources, tips, freebies or relevant promos. It’s ok to skip a week or a month if you have nothing of value to say, but respect people’s inboxes and don’t spam them with emails they don’t want or need.
4. Giveaways You have to work too hard for
Maybe I’m just lazy, but if you think I’m going to follow 87 people, repost six pictures, and tag 95 of my friends to win a branded coffee mug, please think again. Unless you’re giving away something of incredible value, most people will look at your long list of complicated instructions and shrug. People don’t go on social media to do work. The purpose of giveaways is to promote your brand, attract followers, and encourage engagement, right? I’m no expert–remember my Socrates quote–but I’m pretty sure if you keep it simple and give away something people actually want, you’ll be just as successful as if you create a complex social media obstacle course.
5. Private Accounts
This one baffles me. If your social media account is a personal one with only pictures of yourself and the things that matter to you, making it private is totally understandable. You don’t need to share that with the world. But if you’re a business marketing a product or service, why is your profile private? You’ve essentially put a locked door between yourself and the people who want what you’re offering. You’re asking them to choose to follow you before they even know what you’ve got. And more importantly, you assume that people need to follow you to read your blog/buy your product/use your service. The reality is, they don’t unless you make it impossible for them to access you otherwise. Don’t cut your audience and customer base off with a private profile. If you’re a business open to the public, your social media should be too.
Have you used any of these practices with great results? Do you have any pet peeves I didn’t include? Please let me know in the comments!