Pitfalls of Social Media

With the rapid spread of technology, the world is increasingly turning into a global village connected by social media networks. Traditional trading methods are consistently on the defense as young entrepreneurs have embraced and capitalized on this digital era. Despite its massive potential and effectiveness for growth, most start-ups & SMEs have failed to reach the desired sales maturity level because the use of social media is often blunted by some common mistakes. These blunders range from under-planning, overuse to reacting before thinking. 

Most entrepreneurs jump into social media with no real game plan. They fail to strategise and this often means the platforms lose direction and focus. Without setting measurable goals and key performance indicators, the overall social media performance may be hard to evaluate. Moreover, lack of strategy goes against the so-called 5Ps of success “Prior Planning Prevent Poor Performance”.

Social media platforms are increasing in number and entrepreneurs now strive to be on every social media channel. However, as a business is beginning to build its social media presence, it may ultimately spread itself too thin and become overwhelmed. Not all platforms make sense for every business. More often than not, businesses spend time trying to have the best social media pages which do not add any value to the company thereby wasting resources on irrelevant initiatives. Moreover, a mistake that most entrepreneurs make after setting up social media pages is inconsistency. The pages may be left dormant for days, even weeks. The use of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. requires a lot of time because the targeted customers need to be updated regularly. This sounds very easy to do, but businesses that are just starting out may not be able to employ enough labor. Therefore, managing social media platforms as well as other departments may be difficult especially for employees who cannot multitask.

For some unknown reason, young entrepreneurs use social media as a sales platform only. They usually get carried away and all they do is sell and advertise their products. However, customers need more from social media. They, for example, need to be provided with information on how the company is adding value to their products, how they’re affecting the environment, where they source their materials from, what makes their organisation different from the rest. If they feel telemarketed to, they quickly unfollow or leave the page meaning the company would have failed to both market their products and maintain customer loyalty. 

As user friendly as it may seem, social media does not forgive and forget. One miscommunicated idea can easily destroy the brand of the company. For example, a couple of months ago, Clicks South Africa was forced to close down countrywide for a week because of a misinterpreted advert published by one of their stores. A week without sales and the lasting impression now held by its customers  has negatively impacted the company’s image and performance. 

Above all, there is always the risk of inappropriate behavior on an organisation’s pages. Social media hosts all kinds of people from around the world. According to a recent report, almost 77 percent of the entire United States population has a social media account, therefore the risk of running into some negative individuals is high. Organisations are exposed to horrendous feedback from customers that may tarnish their brand image permanently. 

Can businesses grow without social media?

Before the invention of social media platforms, businesses operated successfully and made huge turnovers. If an organisation wants to avoid some of the blunders of social media, traditional methods of advertising are still very effective. 

The most common one, that even technology has failed to erase, is the use of business cards. Entrepreneurs  must have readily available business cards wherever they are to hand out to people interested in their business. Business cards usually always align with the overall brand of the company eliminating any ad hoc mishaps along the way.  

Fliers and posters are also one of the oldest forms of marketing and are still relevant today. With enough research, the right posters in the right places can draw large groups to your business. Coffee shops, bars, shops, etc. make great locations for fliers. 

Generally speaking, talking to people is the most effective way of spreading awareness. It’s advisable to employ conference speakers in order to reach a wider audience. If properly communicated, nothing surpasses word of mouth advertising. Another way to get messages across is through blogging. Blogging allows one control as comments can be disabled while sharing various aspects of the organisation.

Despite them being uncommon, business expos are a great place to meet others in the same industry and introduce the market to what you have to offer. It is always worth attending to see what your competition is doing and if there are any opportunities to collaborate.

Offering branded, free paraphernalia is also another way to advertise your business. Free items such as pens, diaries, rulers, etc. are a great way of keeping your name in customers’ minds. Every time they use your stationery or wear your products, they will remember your business. Although some costs are incurred, in the long run, the business will be more profitable due to customer loyalty.

If the traditional methods of marketing a business seem to be ineffective for your organisation, change the game, add more and different content on the flyers to make it more appealing to the target audience. Fresh content is crucial to keeping customers engaged. 

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