Social media has turned the marketing world upside down. More expensive channels like radio, television, and print advertising are being edged out by easily accessible channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Companies flock to social media and its promise of free, 24-hour access to potential customers. And while most of them enter the fray with enthusiasm, many maintain their social presence with a growing sense of anxiety about whether or not their efforts are paying off.
Though it’s important to stay on top of trends and respond to quickly to change, most of the battle lies in creating a strategy and sticking to it. But even if you’re doing everything else right, here are a few mistakes which might be hurting your best efforts:
1. Not having a designated social media person
I get that not every small business or startup can afford to hire a full-time social media expert, but it’s important to realize that, long after platforms like Facebook and Twitter are no longer dominant, social media will still have significant cultural impact.
It’s not enough to hire your nephew to slap together some updates and tweets; neither is it enough to throw social media on the already-full plate of some employee.
If you’re serious about your social marketing game (and you should be), you need someone who devotes a significant portion of their time to keeping on top of the changes and developments. Learning how these channels work and what makes content stand out is a great place to start, but these channels are constantly in flux and it’s important to keep abreast of the latest changes.
2. Copying other accounts
Not too long ago quote images were taking over Facebook. Some ingenious users combined users’ love of images plus their affinity for quotes. Beautiful images festooned with quotes from Ghandi, Jesus, and Dr. Seuss were all over the place.
When done well, they received a significant amount of likes and, more importantly, shares. But before too long, everyone was sharing quote images. Once they became noise in people’s news feeds, they stopped paying attention.
While it’s important to recognize and take advantage of trends, it can actually hurt your brand not to think through their use. Is this trend contributing to your strategy? Is it building your mission and brand? Are you just trying to capitalize on someone else’s success?
When your social game is a carbon copy of someone else, particularly a competitor, you’re not standing out.Your greatest opportunities come from discovering why a trend works, and how you can use those principles to communicate something valuable and compelling about your brand.
If you’re not improving on, or reimagining a trend, rethink using it.
3. Not investing in the right channels
Some companies have discovered that their conversion rates for Pinterest traffic are 50% higher than conversion rates from any other social media platform. This is an impressive figure, but keep it in perspective.
I’ve worked with companies that, try as they might, could never get any traction on Pinterest. They needed something visually compelling enough to justify repins and intriguing enough to generate clickthroughs.
You probably don’t have enough time, energy, and money to pour into every possible social media channel, but don’t miss out on ones that could really make your product or service pop.
I mean, if you’re a wedding coordinator who’s not putting Pinterest and Instagram to work for you, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING!?
Find someone to help you discover the right platform for you.
Bonus points: Sometimes you might want to skip the obvious channels to find and interesting way to use a counter-intuitive platform. If you’re a contractor that specializes in remodels, Pinterest might be a great place to show awesome before-and-after pictures without wading through tons of competition.
4. Waiting too long to try them out
When it comes to online marketing, the race almost always favors the early adopters. A lot of people saw Instagram in late October of 2010 and thought, “this is just a bunch of dumb hipster kids posting party pictures.”
Smart companies like Gucci and personalities like Jamie Oliver were quick to put it to work for them—and they benefited by having that marketing space to themselves for a while.
When you see a new platform, teach yourself to look beyond, “what does this seem to be.” Instead, think about interesting ways this channel can be used (future tense) to communicate something captivating about your brand.
5. Focusing on the media and ignoring the social
The quickest way to get me to ignore or unfollow your Facebook page is to simply use it as a megaphone. If your page is constantly spamming me with marketing messages, I’m going to get annoyed pretty fast.
These two goals will make a world of difference:
- Keep fans informed and entertained with content related to your area of expertise. Unless you’re giving them coupons all the time, they’re not interested in constant sales-oriented messaging. So work out a system that works for you. It might be 2:2:1. For every two post with interesting content, you post two soft sells (this can be something interesting about your company or product), and one hard sell. You kind of need to play around with it to see where your sweet spot is.
- Interact with your fans. I cannot stress strongly enough the value of having someone running your social media who has permission to speak on behalf of your organization—or at least knows how to find the answers needed to deal with difficult situations. The simplest of interactions can have a profound effect on the loyalty of customers and fans.
Your number one social-media goal is to create a presence that helps you positively stands out from the crowd. Strive to be courageous, creative, and unique!