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If you are one of the many small businesses that has embarked on using social media to attract new customers but are having trouble getting traction, you aren’t alone.

A quick review of the typical small business social media page can shed light on what mistakes to avoid and how you can take better advantage of these customer facing channels.

For many businesses, social media is an afterthought when it should be an integral and strategic component to an overall marketing plan. This might be due to the commonly held misconception that if you build it ‘they’ will come. Let me be clear in that this simply is not true. Underperforming social media pages are easily identified by low numbers in the areas of following, reach and engagement.

In contrast, you would be hard pressed to find a Millennial who has less than 1,000 followers.

So what are some key differences between underperforming and successful social media pages? Read on for 5 simple tips you can employ to increase your social media following and understand the impact it can have on your business.

#1 Be engaging.

The underlying problem is actually the way businesses are approaching their social media activity. To them, this is a marketing campaign and all they need to do to succeed is post regularly about their business.

While social media is a perfectly appropriate vehicle for promoting and sharing your accomplishments, be sure this isn’t ALL that you do. Over time it will yield an overly boastful and narcissistic tone to your page. And who wants to follow someone who just brags about themselves? *yawn*

“We’re the best.”

“The most fast and efficient system …”

“We want to help you grow your business.”

Those statements are all well and good but if not combined with content that has perceived value, are more likely to turn away followers than attract them.

So how should your business approach your social media accounts?

As extensions or ambassadors of your brand that facilitate public interaction. This interaction is key to nurturing current customer relationships and attracting new potential customers. If your social media page were a person, what kind of personality would you want it to have? Keep this in mind as you craft content of value that will appeal to your target audience.

#2 Be positive.

Just as easily as content (or lack thereof) can turn away followers, so can tone.

Be selective in what you post. Avoid inflammatory or divisive subjects that could inadvertently alienate existing or potential new customers. Save your personal opinions on these kinds of subjects for your personal pages.

Use caution to not come across as overly critical or condescending even when it involves the competition. Most people appreciate and expect professional conduct from anyone they do business with. Allow your social media to reflect this as a demonstration of your company culture.

Most importantly, don’t be a ‘Debbie Downer’. Your page could be a bright spot or light bulb moment in someone’s day. Strive for that and you will win more fans.

#3 Be responsive.

Traffic is great; engagement is better.

If someone has actually taken the time to comment on one of your posts or page, give them the courtesy of a response. Not only is it good manners but it will benefit you through your engagement score while bumping the activity up in a feed with each new interaction.

The goal here is to cultivate your relationships so don’t ignore anyone who is interested in your business.

#4 Be relevant.

You may find over-the-top wedding proposal videos to be an excellent use of your free time but unless you are operating in that niche, your customers may disagree.

How do you know definitively what topics will attract your target audience?

You don’t, at first, though you will probably have some ideas.

One service you can glean some excellent cues from is Google Trends.

Google Trends is a tool that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.—Wikipedia

Explore the search trends that relate to your particular industry or service to find out what kind of information and solutions people are looking for. Then strategically formulate your social media content around those topics of interest.

#5 Be creative.

Instead of thinking of your social media as a means to an end, ask instead what you can offer to your audience using this medium. This is also how you might succeed on a social media channel that doesn’t seem obviously relevant to your business model.

For example … How could a life insurance company see success using Pinterest? One way might be to show inspiring images of families enjoying each other’s company or sharing adventures. These images would give people a reason to follow and they might not even realize that the board is managed by a business–until a product or service was promoted.

By focusing energy into your social media channels and paying attention to your results you will gain valuable insights about what types of messaging and images resonate with your audience. So push up your sleeves, dive in, and have some fun. After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.

Short on time to spend on your social media pages in-house? Varsity 5 can manage your social media pages, set up automation and tracking or help you map out a social media campaign. Our team has the strategic and creative capabilities to increase your following and maximize how social media can aide in your business growth. Visit us at or email [email protected].
Liz Z.

Liz Z.

Designer, Educator, Contributor

Liz is a designer and former educator, having taught full-time in the Digital Media & Internet Design discipline for 6 years. Her experiences in print design and production coupled with over 10 years of real-world web development have provided Liz a great foundation to contribute meaningfully to our Team Talks.

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