Social media marketing is a great way to get leads and reach potential clients. That is, if you do it correctly. According to The State of Inbound 2014-2015 study conducted by Hubspot, 80% of respondents placed Social media along with other digital marketing channels as one of the most important sources of leads.
While it is very possible for you to succeed in social media, committing blunders can produce dire consequences for your business or brand. So you may want to keep in mind the following top mistakes that you need to avoid if you want to maximize this powerful medium for your business. Some of them you may be committing already without knowing about it.
1. Not listening to people
Social media expert Vinny La Varbera says that “the biggest (social media) mistake you can make is NOT listening to others.” Social media sites exist to promote conversations among people. For businesses, these sites present an opportunity to listen to your target audience. In other words, social media is a two-way street. Unfortunately, many business owners treat social media like a traditional marketing medium. That is, they dominate the communication process. Instead of listening to people, they pollute the networks with their messages.
You should keep in mind that your social media network includes your clients, potential partners and supporters. These are people whose opinion matter and who can help your business grow. Do you have to listen and follow everything that they say? Of course not. But you have to value their voices. You should pay particular attention to the things that your prospective clients are saying. Some of the things that they are saying may not be pleasant but that does not mean they won’t offer you anything. Most of the time, it is the negative things that can help your business more. If you want to know how to truly listen to people in social media, check out some of the most successful businesses and look at how they are using social media sites.
2. Not having a plan
Many business owners use social media for their businesses the way they use it for their personal lives. That is, they use it aimlessly. They post messages, links, photos and videos every now and then. They may even comment to the posts of their fans and followers. But their social media activities do not fall under a plan or strategy. This is big social media mistake and a big waste of time. Just like your other marketing efforts, your social media marketing efforts should fall under a plan that is consistent with the general objectives of your business. According to Digital Marketing Consultant Brett Relander, “clear objectives simplify planning and execution, as well as enabling you to measure results and track ROI.”
Apart from having a social media plan or strategy, you should also have a system to measure the effectiveness of the plan. Doing so is the best way to make sure that you are not wasting resources on social media.
3. Not posting useful content
Content is king, even in social media. But this does not mean that you should post the same content type you use on other mediums such as Facebook or Pinteret. Therefore, it is important that you post appropriate content for different type of social sites. “Businesses can stay on message and keep a consistent digital voice while still allowing followers to feel personally connected, which in turn fosters more sharing and increased followers,” says social media expert Heather Smith.
When you post photos, for example, don’t just use photos that you use in your regular advertisements and other promotional mediums. Your followers can already see that in other places. It is better to give them an intimate look of your business or brand. Why not post behind the scenes photos of how you produce your products. You can even post photos of you and your staff having a good time. You must remember that social media is largely an informal medium. Posting too serious of a content in it may not be a good strategy. In social media, it is important that your followers feel a connection to your business or brand. This is why down-to-earth and is easy-to-relate-to posts work best in social media.
4. Not being transparent
As mentioned earlier, social media is all about making connections. This means that people following you in sites such as Facebook or Twitter is expecting some openness and transparency. When they visit your Facebook page, for example, they would expect to see more than the usual marketing and promotional images and posts. They take social media as an opportunity to get “close” to companies that they otherwise won’t have access to. So if you are not being transparent in social media, then you will be disappointing a lot of people and may lose followers in the process.
Do you have to post every single thing that is happening to your business? Of course not. But you need to provide people the sense that they are being welcomed into the inner life of your company. By doing so, you would be regarded as a company that is worthy of being trusted. Studies have shown that people are more inclined to support businesses whom they trust. For more insights on the issue of trust and social media, you should read Rob Petersen’s article.
5. Not being consistent
There are two ways to be inconsistent in social media. One is not being able to sustain a social media campaign and the other is not being consistent when it comes to the messages that you put out. It is easy to get started with a social media campaign. This is because working a new medium is always exciting. What is hard is to sustain that same level of excitement. This is why you see many companies start strong in social media sites, posting several times a week or even in a day. But as the weeks and the months go by, you notice their posts dwindling to just two or less every week. This is a big no-no because dropping out on a social media site can leave your followers feeling abandoned.
You should also be consistent when it comes to the messages that you post on social media sites. Kevin Claveria, who works as a social media marketing assistant, reminds us though that “consistency shouldn’t come at the price of flexibility. You should continue to experiment with different social media tactics, and you should consider re-evaluating your strategy once in a while.”
It is important to hire a particular person or team to handle social media marketing for you. Having different messages on social media can leave your followers feeling confused and alienated. The messages should always be tied to the core characteristics of your brand. If you sell apparel for kids, for example, then it is important to use a voice that is attractive to children.
6. Not focusing on one or a few social media site
Because of the number of social media sites around, it can be tempting to be in all of them. When it comes to social media marketing though, more is not necessarily better. You should still put more emphasis on quality over quantity. Mr. Relander’s advice is to “only choose the networks that have the most targeted prospects and the largest audiences.” There is a misconception that all social media sites is an ideal marketing medium for all types of businesses. While it is true that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are perfect for all types of businesses, there are some sites that work only for certain types of businesses. Instagram, for example, is ideal for business-to-consumer companies but not for business-to-business enterprises. Similarly Linkedin is a great B2B social sites but not necessarily good for the B2C businesses.
Being in many social media sites can also take up plenty of your company’s resources. Just to manage all those social media sites alone would take up so much of your company’s time. So instead of spreading your marketing efforts thin on many social media sites, the better thing to do would be to choose one or a few social media sites and then focus your efforts there. You may want to know how you can choose which sites to post to. You can go with popularity. You can also do some research to know where your target market is.
7. Not using Visuals
Between a post that has a photo in it and one that is all text, which do you think will people notice? It is a no-brainer right? Social media sites are visual mediums. This is because the Internet itself is a visual medium. In Twitter, for instance, Ms. Smith says that “Tweets that include an image have 200 percent more engagement than tweets without images.”So if you are not using images on your social media campaign, do not wonder why very few people are following or engaging with you. It does not matter how good your message is, if it does not attract the attention of people, then it will just be wasted.
You just need to know a few things before you post images online. First of all, use original images as much as possible. If you are using other people’s or company’s images, you should make sure that you have the permission to use them. Otherwise, you can get your business in trouble. You should also make sure that the images you will use is relevant to your brand and to your message.
8. Not linking social media to your other Web properties
While social media sites such as Facebook can serve as a stand-alone marketing medium, it would still work best if it is integrated with your other Internet properties. “Not connecting these accounts reduces the amount of reach each asset has separately,” says Ms. Smith. If you own a blog, for example then you should always syndicate your post on your profiles. And in your website or blog, you should include social media buttons to make it easier for people to “like” or share your contents and follow you on social media sites.
Your social media marketing should be a part of a bigger marketing plan or strategy. You should not treat is as an island. Stay clear of the mistakes above and for sure you will succeed with your social media campaign.