We don’t all have the luxury of having a social media coach. We don’t all have the knowledge to do everything right on social media. But there are some things that we all need to get a handle on because they just don’t work.

It’s not the algorithm. It’s you.

You’d be surprised by what your customers and potential customers think about your social media posts. And this is mostly because you don’t ask them, and they’re not offering any feedback. Instead they just go silent. Or worse, just stop noticing you. And that is death for a social media profile. If you’ve been noticing your insights on Facebook or Instagram plummeting of late, it’s easy to blame “the algorithm” for the dive in numbers. But what if it was actually something that you’ve been doing that’s turned people off? Here’s a couple of the things that small business does that is doing them no favours on social media.

Statue holding face in hand

The problem with price-sensitivity

The unique thing about social media that is starting to weave its way into the rest of the marketing and advertising world, is the concept that you have to earn the right to sell something to someone. And this has occurred because the way we shop if vastly different to the way we used to. The average western middle-class buyer once valued stuff like brand, friendliness and the effort it took to build beautiful stores and shop windows. Now we operate in a world where some 78% of shopping for something you’ve never bought before is done on price alone, and those of us who aren’t selling millions of units in big stores or through Amazon or eBay are battling to win over the remaining 22% who still shop on perceived value, brand, loyalty and emotion… or simply buy the same thing again and again out of habit. This is why you’ll see a new product land on the shelves at Coles and Woolworths with a super-low introductory price. If they can get you in with price, you may form a new habit and start buying them instead of the others.  This is also common with new web designers and social media marketers who enter a market with a very low and unsustainable price so they can build a presence, and then, once they get a name, their prices start moving to a more sustainable level.

Please stop selling to me!

This all means that you probably haven’t done enough of the legwork on building that name or rapport with your customers and more importantly, with your potential customers, to start bombarding them with sales messages about your products, services, pricing and why they should call right now and book you. And even if you have done a whole lot of background work on building a following, I can guarantee you that few, if any of them got on board to be harassed with buy now and book now messages every day of the week. Business tends to treat social media like a billboard. Yet even billboards are largely used to present a brand, some information or something to aspire to. They are not usually plastered with pricing, lists of features and high-pressure tactics designed to make you buy something right there and then. Billboards also rarely stand alone as a marketing tactic. They are one part of a strategy of many elements designed to make you feel good about a business or a brand. What small business on social media does is post a steady stream of products, services, prices and messages telling you buy now, book now, do this now, do that now. And that isn’t what social media is about. If this is what you do, and you’ve seen your social media number plummet, then this is why.

Woman yelling in to a megaphone

Misinterpreting the advice from the gurus

Perhaps the most obvious thing that I see small business doing on social media is a very self-absorbed kind of storytelling. It’s where the story being told is all about the wonderful things we do, our people hard at work, our donations to charity, behind the scenes as we make our products, have our meetings and clean our vehicles and workshop. Can I share a little secret? No one cares. Not about your staff. Not about your showroom. Not about your charity donations. Not about your vehicle cleaning working bee. Telling us all about how good you are is like being that guy at the party who is amazing. Because he keeps telling you how amazing he is. It’s not long before everyone is avoiding him. And eventually he stops being invited to parties anymore at all. Do you really want to be that guy? Yet this is the takeaway that so many small businesses have from all their books and conferences and seminars and mega coaching programs about personal branding and content. Somehow, with all these marketing and business building legends and heroes saying the same thing over and over about offering value, value and more value on social media, these small businesses walked away with the idea of making videos about themselves.

It’s hard.

Small business is hard. I get it. I have one myself and it’s excruciatingly hard some days. When marketing doesn’t come easily to you, marketing is hard too. However, taking what feels like an easy road to constantly bombarding your audience with pricing, product and promotions is not helping you get more people in. It’s actually driving people away from you. And if all you ever do is talk about yourself, your kids, your achievements, your donations, your hard work and your staff, your customer can’t picture themselves doing anything with you because they can’t get a word in between your boasting about how great you are.