teens managing social media

Social Media Marketing is not as easy as your nephew makes it look.

I met Nikki at a conference where we were discussing social media marketing and she approached me with a very defeated look on her face and said, “I have been trying to figure out this whole social media thing for almost a year.  I try to post regularly, but it’s usually pretty off and on, and I even brought in an intern to help one day a week, but I think we are doing several things wrong.”

Many businesses, like Nikki, use social media haphazardly, without a plan and wonder why they can’t seem to get it right.

Here are 10 tragic mistakes that businesses make on social media (perhaps you are making a few of these) and ways to tweak your process to get on track.

  1. Posting all promotional content.

    While it’s true that you are spending time using social media tools to market your business and actually make sales, it is that salesy behavior that will repel your social media audience from getting close enough to ever buy.  Unless you are a very well known brand that people will come to just to buy, (Starbucks, Hershey’s chocolate, or Louboutin Shoes) you have to build relationships using social media and show your audience you are there to be helpful, to provide valuable resources to them and yes, to get them to buy from you once they like you.

  2. Inconsistent posting.

    Many companies start off with a bang.  You see two and three posts a day on their social media sites and then suddenly, a week or two later, it’s nothing…..a week goes by, a month goes by…nothing.  Each social media site has an optimal time and frequency to post (here’s a great infographic that can help you figure your optimal times).  There are a lot of factors, like who is your target audience? What time of day are they most likely to be online? How much valuable content do you have available to post? 2-5 times a day on Facebook or Google+ has been proven to work well, as long as you are not just posting cat pictures and asking people to name the kitty.  (I see so much of that type of useless post that just pollutes the news stream.)   10 posts on Twitter is fine for a personal account, but you can post 20-30 from a business throughout the day and you will see a continuous growth in followers because your byte-sized nuggets are reaching more people.  LinkedIn has the fewest number of posts per day with one being a good way to stay in front of your audience and prove that you are a thought leader in your industry.

  3. Posting personal info on a business account.

    If your community manager is not business savvy or is lacking in business experience, they may not understand the best way to ensure the voice of your brand is carried out.  I saw a business Facebook page that had a photo of one of the employees’ daughters and a post that discussed her difficult behavior that day.  If you are a small business and you want to create that family feel, there is a better way to do that.  Share helpful information, always keeping your audience.  Personal information on a business page can include things such as, work anniversaries, meet the team members posts with fun facts about each person, photos from a conference you or your team attended with some helpful nuggets that you took away from it. Let your audience see behind the curtain of your business, but leave the front door of your house CLOSED!

  4. Sharing too much business content on your personal accounts.

    Friends and family members connected with you on Facebook, Instagram or other sites to learn about YOU, not about your recent real estate listing or free webinar every day.  Don’t make your friends and family mute you. Trust me… they want to hear about your latest “opportunity” as much as you are looking forward to that next telemarketing call coming into your home while you relax at night.  You may not want to share anything personal with those you have connected with, and that’s okay. Simply connect with people there and remind them that you have great business resources on your business profiles and share that link with them.

  5. Being on the wrong social media platform.

    Just because everyone is on Facebook or Instagram, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right place for you to spend time reaching out to potential customers.  Spend some time asking your current clients which social media sites they are most active on.  Do some research on each social media site to see if your competitors are there and if there is an active community there. (Do they have a lot of Twitter followers, or do they have 45? How many fans have liked their Facebook page and how many posts actually have comments, likes, shares?) You can buy fans and followers, but you can’t buy real engagement.  Look for clues to see if there is life on that social site for you to pursue! You may find that LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest are your best bet.

  6. Neglecting the visual element of social media.   visual social marketing social media

    Visual is one of the biggest trends in social right now.  Instagram and Pinterest have us glued to those fabulous photos and even LinkedIn is putting more focus on Slideshare. If you scan your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter profiles and don’t see loads of visual content, you are missing out on the opportunity to have your content read.  With the sheer volume of content that comes across our screens each day, text becomes the blurry filler in-between great photos and quotes written on interesting backdrops. You have a great camera on your mobile device…use it.  Try snapping a photo of a flower or something in your office.  Now get the app, “A Beautiful Mess” and open your picture in that app (it’s available on iOS and Android platforms).  You can add text to the photo or create a simple collage to share with your social audience. Your text is putting people to sleep on its own….add interest with visual content.

  7. Thinking social media is FREE.

    Sure it costs nothing to create your accounts, but to get any return on your activity, you will most likely want to set aside a budget for running custom ads on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Instagram.  One of the biggest reasons to have a Facebook account for your business is to be able to customize and run very targeted ads that are seen, not on the right side of the page where no one dares to click, but to run promoted posts that appear right inside the newsfeed of those very specific people you want to see them.  When I hear people whining that Facebook is always trying to get them to pay for their posts to be seen, I ask how much it costs to put up a billboard, a Yellow Pages ad, or a TV commercial.  Marketing costs should be built into your business plan.

  8. Deleting negative comments or not allowing comments or connections at all.

    It always baffles me when I come across a Twitter account that is “PRIVATE” and it is for a business.  That’s like making your website private and someone needing your permission to view your products and resources.  It’s CRAY CRAY (as my daughter would say)!  Facebook has a setting that basically silences your community.  Fans are not able to post a question or comment.  Why even have an account on SOCIAL media if you don’t want people to be SOCIAL?  If you are so worried that people will write something negative about you or your brand, don’t create an account in the first place. Fix the problem that has you so worried. People will talk with you and about you, you just have to decide whether or not you are going to join the conversation.  If someone does post a negative comment, your initial reaction might be to quickly delete it before anyone else sees it.  Beware, a consumer who is a bit upset and posts it on your page might simply want to see if you will respond and help fix their situation. (see post, “Someone’s talking about you on Social Media”)  That same consumer will become enraged when they discover they are being silenced.  See my last post on how to handle feedback on social review sites.

  9. Ignoring your community.

    You spend a lot of effort trying to get people to follow you on Twitter or like your Facebook page, but what about following your fans back on Twitter, adding them to your circles on Google+ and accepting their invitations to connect on LinkedIn. Quit ignoring the very people who are showing an interest in YOU. That doesn’t mean you should auto-follow or connect with everyone but look at their profiles. If it is someone who could either be a potential customer, add value to your network, or someone who could influence others to become a customer…connect!  When I see a company that has 4,000 Twitter followers and they are following 7 people, that says they are not interested in having conversations, but only in broadcasting to the world.  Quit ignoring people.

  10. Giving up too soon.  how much time does it take before social media works

    I will say it again, Social Media is a tool to build relationships. It’s like a telephone or computer. How you use it to connect and build relationships can take time.  Don’t jump onto a social media site expecting customers to come walking in your door the next week (although that can certainly happen). Commit to learning how to provide value to your social community. Commit to being present, at least for a period of time each day, and be willing to change things up as you learn more and become more in tune with your social community.  You will have weeks when it seems like everyone is talking about your brand and sharing your great content, and there will be weeks when you will wonder if you broke the internet…all you hear is crickets.  Stay committed and stay consistent.  It will pay off.  Just like that telephone. It will ring more often when you use it to reach out to others and provide value.

Have you seen (or committed) other mistakes in your social media journey?  Please share with us what you have experienced.  Let’s learn together.

If you are ready to pull your hair out or throw in the “social” towel, give us a call, we can help! 

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@GinaSchreck