There are several reasons why your social media marketing could be heading down the wrong road. Social media success is after all a subtle mix of presentation, timing and approach. One simple change in any factor mentioned could mean the difference between virality and a dead post.
Both seasoned and novice marketers could make any one of these mistakes and experience an inexplicable down trend in their marketing efforts. Which of them are you making?
This is a list of ten plausible social media marketing mistakes in reverse order, leading up to the absolute worst.
#10 Isolating social media from other marketing avenues
A successful marketing strategy focuses on clear overall business goals that are broken down and adapted to different marketing media. I came across a very interesting article recently reminding marketers that social media is simply another marketing medium and isn’t a type of marketing in itself.
To understand this better, look at some of the best ‘social media campaigns’ ever made. Central to those campaigns is a marketing strategy, a powerful means of connecting the target audience to the company and driving real results. This strategy is implemented on chosen channels, which include or are limited to social media platforms.
For instance consider Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign. It wasn’t solely a social media campaign. Dove also housed it on their website under ‘stories’ and broadcast it on TV as well.
Simply sharing posts on social media won’t work because that’s only the baseline, and everyone is doing it. That doesn’t mean you have to get on TV. Don’t focus your marketing efforts on social media but develop a marketing strategy and apply it to social media and the other media at your disposal for the best results (your blog, your website and paid media within your budget). Beware of stretching too thin though, you want to maximize your reach but well within your capabilities.
#9 Plunging into social media marketing without a documented plan
As found by Content Marketing Institute, documenting your content marketing plan impacts how confident you feel, simplifies your challenges and helps justify your spend better.
Without a plan in place you can’t expect results of any sort.
Many companies have lived the barren–page story. You decide that social media is in fact a great channel to brand and promote your business. You sign–up, spend a day sweating about the descriptions and images you want uploaded. For the next week you scramble and serve up posts each day, in that five minute break between a client meeting and coffee. And then it becomes harder and harder to devote time for the activity.
This doesn’t work on social media.
Successful brands plan everything from the colors on their posts to the voice they intend to use and the frequency with which they post on social media.
Etsy’s orange and brown theme is a very popular example. Their consistent content and text patterns are also excellent for brand recall.
Again, leaning into mistake #10, your social media activities impact a whole lot of factors (like brand recognition and recall) so the more planned your approach, the more promising the outcome.
#8 Bad outsourcing
In–house vs outsourcing is a popular debate. Several companies outsource either because they can’t afford to house an internal team on a long–term basis or because they prefer to outsourcing to training people themselves in advanced skills (making them irreplaceable).
If you outsource your digital marketing be sure to get to know the agency you’re getting in bed with.
While agencies and freelancers may well be focused and updated on marketing skills, they may not understand your business just as you do, which is an impending disaster.
There are several examples of outsourcing gone wrong around the internet. I won’t delve into them, but discuss tips for successfully outsourcing social media marketing.
1. Explain your companies vision, brand and feel
2. Set expectations, priorities and firm guidelines
3. Provide support and access to everything necessary
4. Regularly sit for review sessions to check if the implementation mirrors your expectations
#7 Paying for less than legitimate shortcuts
Most marketers lose the race even before it begins by chasing numbers and forgoing standards. If an agency promises you a certain number of followers in a said time, they’re probably using underhand techniques (buying likes or spamming) to deliver them.
While a large following does project credibility and push people to hit the like button, you don’t want grow your visibility that way.
Irrelevant followers are less likely to interact with your content and engagement levels are the numbers that actually matter. Some sources claim that social media platforms connect low engagement levels to irrelevancy of content and push those pages low on search results.
Bulk–bought likes fall in the spam and fake account categories for the most part and are very unlikely to buy from your business in any case. The worst consequence of irrelevant followers is out–of–place comments that will affect the appearance of your page.
The ideal social media brand scenario is where you have a thriving community of loyal followers interested in your niche and products. That is best built organically on the back of a well–planned content marketing strategy.
The humans of New York page is a great example for a robust community surrounding a brilliant content theme.
#6 Failing to understand your target audience
Venturing guesses about audience preferences is one of the most common mistakes that marketers make. Unless you know who you are serving, you can’t know what to serve up. By making assumptions you could make your entire content efforts inept. That is days or months of wasted time and costs to ignorance.
For instance, DrumUp, a content curation app for social media, targets digital agencies, marketing departments and freelance social media marketers. The content we publish is geared towards that audience.
But audience insights apply to more than just content. Understanding of your audience is necessary to reach out to them and get them to respond.
If you are targeting Millenials, the tone of voice you use, the pop culture references you make, the promotional offers you create and even the experience that you provide will have to take the form of what is important to them.
Another thriving community, Girls Who Code shares inspiring content for their female coders.
Invest in audience research, because if you get this stage wrong, the rest of your plan will crumble.
#5 Failing to prioritize your marketing activities
Spreading your self too thin will not only exhaust your resources but also diminish your results. Especially when you are launching your program, you can’t afford to do it on multiple platforms. So what should you do?
1. Identify which social media platforms your audience members frequent
2. Prioritize the top two or three platforms based on resources available
3. On the short–listed platforms commit to the two or three activities with the most returns
You don’t have to be present on all social media platforms. Say you’re a real estate agent. Being on SnapChat makes absolutely no sense for you. Over 80% of SnapChat users are under 34 years of age, as per a study conducted by Statista. Potential house purchasers are people who have extra–money to spare, most of whom fall above the age of 34.
Where is it most important for your company to be present? Find out and be there, and nowhere else.
#4 Overwhelming your audience’s social media feeds
Have you ever over–promoted your content? By that I mean shared the same blog post thrice a day on all your accounts for an entire week?
Has it increased your traffic? It probably hasn’t.
Sharing too much doesn’t earn you much, apart from people’s irritation and distrust. As a business on social media your most important goal is building credibility and trust. Spamming irrevocably damages your credibility.
For promoting your content, create a sensible and feasible plan. You don’t have to repeatedly share the same title and image for your post. You could switch things up to satisfy your audience while also gaining the exposure that you desire.
1. Tweet interesting facts and insights from a blog post
2. Create a conversation around the post you’re trying to promote
3. Ask the right question
4. Describe your blog post instead of simply restating the title
To capture your audience you have to time it right. One or two shares a day, timed right is worth more than 5 shares timed wrong. That requires knowledge of when your audience hangs out on each social media platform that you’re targeting.
#3 Neglecting conversations, comments and general feedback
So very little of social media continues to be social. With blog posts and posters flooding consumers’ feeds, you can’t ignore the connect that personal interactions create. One of the worst things a brand could do is to rely on automation for social media survival.
That being said, your goal is certainly more than simple survival on social media, and too much automation kills your social media presence rather than helping it survive.
Connection is something purely human (at least for consumers, no offence to Wall-E). Initiating conversations on social media serves two purposes:
1. It encourages people to participate
2. It provides unique insights about your audience
What your audience engages with on your Facebook page (and doesn’t) is as insight into what they like (and don’t). Great material for business feature/service updates, content ideas and much more.
Leaving comments unanswered on your social media pages discourages your followers from interacting further. If negative comments are left unanswered, you are missing out on great PR opportunities and if positive comments are left unacknowledged, you are discouraging others from posting more of them.
Handling customer care on social media is one way to create conversations and win your audience over. Excellent customer care is valuable social capital.
#2 Not measuring the impact of your social media activities
Measurements work for two reasons: they help justify your investments and they help plan future investments. Unless you measure the impact of your social media content, you can’t cut costs and improve results over time.
The most disastrous consequence of not measuring your activity is that you’ll be operating without a clue of what’s happening in reality. What if all the content you’re sharing is hitting the wall and doing nothing for you?
What if the angle you took on the latest product launch ad didn’t click with your audience?
How would you know to change your approach the next time around?
You wouldn’t. Unless you measure your metrics.
Some important metrics to measure social media marketing – referrals, reach, impressions, engagement, leads, conversions, follower growth rate and mentions. It is also a good idea to benchmark your numbers against your competitors’ to get a sense of where you stand in the industry. Google Analytics is a great, free resource to measure metrics.
Now for the absolute worst that you could do on your social media pages.
#1 Tooting your horn too hard (too many company mentions and comparatively little value)
Overtly self–promoting content is a huge turn–off. Nobody ever wants to listen to anyone talking about themselves all day long. Do this if your goal is to drive everyone away and make them hate you.
Yes, you have to promote yourself and make your services known, but you can’t exclusively talk about yourself. Instead you have to talk about your audience and what they relate to. That’s how you bring them to your page.
Answer an important query, entertain them and help them overcome an obstacle and your audience will come back for more.
Instead of spamming your page with promotional content, try timing it just right. Suppose you a travel gear company and the holidays are just around the corner, you could publish travel tips or books to read on vacation that may come in handy for holiday travellers.
You could also talk about your brand, but in relation with what you can do for your audience. The star of a great social media page isn’t the brand but the content and the engagement it attracts.
The real goal is to be useful, and make yourself indispensable. Remember that people don’t come for the brand, they come for the experience or value that the brand provides. What are you providing your audience?
Image via flickr.com