Businesses: stop making this social media mistake!

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

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I want my business to thrive just as much as you want yours to thrive.Trust me, I’m right there with you. There are about a million social media outlets and it seems like we’re all in a race to get the most likes, follows, comments, right? I’m in a bunch of different business groups on Facebook and can pretty much guarantee I see no less than 10 posts a day with people offering to “like” another page/feed/whatever as long as that business “likes” their page/feed/whatever. Those posts get comments like freaking wildfire. Everyone comments with their specific links in hopes of gaining likes or follows because the more, the merrier, right? WRONG. social media marketing small business marketing

Correct me if I’m wrong, but social media’s main purpose is to encourage socializing. Sure, there are tons of businesses utilizing social media for advertising (which, if done properly, is totally cool), but the main purpose is to socialize. To bring long distance friends together in a common “place.” To strengthen and cultivate relationships. You guys…businesses need to do the same if they want their presence on social media to mean anything.

Since I’m a South Jersey blogger, I love to connect with businesses both local and nationwide that could either positively benefit me, or my target audience, in some way. I also love to connect with local parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc. because ALL of those people can both benefit from my business and influence and benefit ME as well. If you’re not familiar with the term “target audience” it means, in a nutshell, the people/businesses/followers that your business primarily serves. As a South Jersey blogger, my target audience consists of local parents and caregivers of babies through school-age children that are in search of activities, products, and businesses that could benefit their families in some way. See where I’m going here? Would it make sense for me to follow a coffee shop in California when I’ve only been to California twice in my life and have no immediate plans to return? No. Would it make sense for me to follow a family photographer based out of Texas when I’m in New Jersey? Not at all.

Not only is there no reason for me to follow these businesses, but doing so could actually HURT these businesses reach on social media. Is there any reason for me to interact with a coffee shop in California? Am I going to be sharing their sales with my friends? Nope nope nope. If I “like” that business, I am merely dead weight. I am nothing but a meaningless number. If I DO “like” them, I’m probably going to end up hiding their posts because, honestly, I really don’t care about seeing what they post because it has absolutely no relevance to me. On the other hand, should businesses that have absolutely no relevance to me want my “like” or follow? Absolutely not. By participating in the “like for like” threads or groups on Facebook or Instagram, businesses can certainly increase their number of “likes” and follows, which looks good on paper, but those numbers are absolutely meaningless. What’s the point of posting information or advertising on a Facebook business page if the people that follow that page have absolutely no interest in the information? There is no point. It’s a waste of time and energy to post to all these “fans” that only follow you because you gave them a follow or like in exchange. These fake fans don’t care about your business.

What should you do instead?

STOP participating in these “like for like” groups and threads on Facebook. Instead, focus on gaining likes and follows from your target audience: people that will actually care about what you post. Join groups on Facebook that may contain your target audience and actually interact and form genuine relationships with those people. For example, if you are a local family photographer, request to join some local groups that focus on families: groups for surrounding towns, groups for parents in that area, groups for local businesses. Many of them offer a specific day when you could post an advertisement. Do that, and don’t be spammy about it. If someone takes the time to comment on your post, comment back with something meaningful. When you take the time to actually form relationships and grow a rapport, good things will happen! You may even consider forming your own Facebook group specific for your customers or potential customers. Bottom line? Use social media to SOCIALIZE.

If your goal is to gain followers on Instagram, definitely research and use hashtags that your target audience is looking for. Don’t join groups of Instagrammers that will swap comments for comments or like for like. It may seem amazing to have a bunch of comments on the posts in your feed, but they really mean absolutely nothing if they’re not from your target audience. As a follower, when I see a post that has a ton of general “this is so cool!” or “absolutely gorgeous” comments, I KNOW that those comments are not genuine and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Take the time to interact with the genuine comments on your posts, use relevant hashtags, research the times your target audience is more likely to be using Instagram and post then. When you take the time to form relationships and build your community, you’ll have much better success in the long run. I would much rather have an Instagram following of 500 true fans instead of 10,000 “follow for follow” “fans.” There are so many different ways to truly build your Instagram audience into a following of people that are actually interested in what you post.

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Don’t be hard on yourself!

We have ALL been there!! Trust me!! I have run multiple businesses and it’s taken many ups and downs for me to finally realize that, in the long run, it’s better for my business to grow slowly, with true fans and followers. I’ve participated in the “like for like” and “comment for comment” groups. My numbers and comments increased and it was exciting to see that, but they meant NOTHING because every a good portion of those people that followed my business couldn’t care less about what I posted. It can be exhilarating to have a social media account with tons of followers, comments, and likes. I KNOW! But, realize that growing your following with true fans and followers really is the way to go and will help your business in the long run.

I am super passionate about social media and small business marketing and hope that this little bit of info helps you to grow your business in a way that sets you up for success!

Do you have a social media tip to share? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Responses

  1. Kelli says:

    The fb algorithms like you better if you comment it private message with someone. Likes do nothing for the connection algorithms!

    • Elizabeth Dukart says:

      oh totally! I meant “likes” as in liking a page more than liking a post, but, yes, having private messages definitely help

  2. Tiffany says:

    I really wish companies realized this. I hate when they want my numbers because they’re comparing my REAL numbers to people who buy their following (or their content, by the way, did you know there are groups where people actually buy and sell content?? What on a blog is even real?!?!) or participate in comment things. It’s so frustrating!

    • Elizabeth Dukart says:

      YES!!! Having thousands and thousands of followers means nothing when they’re not true followers. Drives me crazy. I’ve heard of buying and selling content – I’m all for guest posts and such if they make sense, but I feel like flat out purchasing and selling content takes away from the personality that makes blogs great, right?