by Allison Lee, Senior Content Writer at Zoomph
Social media marketing won’t earn your business overnight success. Like any form of marketing, it’s a science that requires trial and error to get right.
The good news is that it’s relatively inexpensive, and if you can invest the right time and energy into doing it well, you can reap incredible benefits. Among them: a lift in organic leads, greater brand awareness, and a community of fans who feel a personal connection to your brand.
After experimenting with social media for over five years, my team has noticed some common mistakes that businesses make when launching themselves into social media marketing. Here are nine big things to avoid doing.
1. Misunderstanding the value of social media.
If you’re expecting social media to be a quick money maker, think again. Social media is, first and foremost, social. It’s different from your traditional broadcasting platform where there’s a clear sender and receiver, presenter and listener. Anybody at any point can react to what you say and can start a conversation around your content.
The beauty of social media is that it emulates real-world interactions better than TV or radio. It gets you closer to your customer than ever before and serves as an online hangout spot, where you can strike personal relationships.
When you start marketing on social media, you must understand that you’re entering a social community. It’s not a storefront—your audience will reject phony or impersonal ads and gravitate towards handles that appear more human.
2. Speaking like a robot.
While your company should maintain a social media policy (e.g., no profanity, no mockery, etc.), make sure to keep the human touch in your communications.
This doesn’t mean simply stuffing your posts with emojis or gifs. It means addressing people by their names and personalizing your messages. It means knowing your target audience and speaking their language.
It also means changing the way you share news. If you’re constantly parroting the same messages the same way every time, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Diversify your content and don’t be afraid to test out different CTAs, content formats, and other strategies to figure out what really resonates with your audience.
In return for humanizing your communications, you may find yourself engaging in more authentic conversations and gaining a sharper, real-world understanding of your consumers.
3. Jumping on the bandwagon.
It can be hard to look away when a glittery new app makes headlines or dozens of studies report on the best times to post.
Truth is, what works for one company won’t necessarily work for yours.
Even if the mass population is purportedly on Facebook at 8 p.m. after work hours, your audience of college students (as an example) may be on Facebook as early as 8 a.m. when class begins.
You can (and should) get even narrower when defining your target audience, but no matter the size, your audience is unique. Look for the social channels and activity patterns that work for your audience. Don’t burn yourself out by creating dozens of social accounts and posting just for the sake of posting.
My team at Zoomph spends most of our time on Twitter because we know that over 400,000 people in our target audience (digital marketers) are on Twitter, according to our Audience Builder. More importantly, those 400,000 people are actively using Twitter to share breaking news, find inspiration, and talk to each other daily, as evidenced by our social listening feeds.
Once you’re able to hone in on where and who your target customers are, you can start observing their behaviors and crafting a personalized marketing strategy.
4. Lacking goals.
All your efforts on social media should ladder up to a larger marketing strategy. A strategy will help you define who you’re trying to target and why. It’ll help you set achievable goals and spend your time wisely.
Before committing to any social marketing tactic, ask yourself:
What are my top-level marketing goals and how does social media fit in?
Who are my target personas?
How much time, resources, and budget am I willing to devote to social marketing?
Which channel(s) should I prioritize? Why?
What will the customer journey look like?
How will I measure success (KPIs and measuring tools)?
After answering these questions, you’ll have an easier time drawing up a more specific plan of action, like what types of content to create and how to use each channel to your benefit.
5. Failing to track performance.
When measuring success, be picky about the KPIs you track. Be especially mindful of vanity metrics—follower count, likes, shares, and other “feel- good” metrics that mean very little on their own.
We recommend measuring influence by tracking a combination of metrics, and understanding engagement as it relates to your target audience. Even if you’re gaining more followers, are they engaging with your content? Could you see your followers becoming brand ambassadors, partners, or buyers? What conversations are you sparking with your content?
Your long-term strategy shouldn’t rely on one-hit wonders, but strive for a consistent level of engagement with the right people. The KPIs you track will vary by platform and your specific goals for each platform.
Additionally, make sure to benchmark your activity over time. Track your growth against a baseline, your average performance rate over a particular period of time.
Make sure you’re not expecting different results from doing the same thing over and over again, and alternatively, be patient. Give your experiments enough runtime to produce reliable results.
6. Promoting yourself too much.
Ever been caught in a conversation where the other person is talking at you, not with you?
Yeah, it gets exhausting. Same thing applies to your social media interactions. If you spend all your time talking about yourself, you’ll tire people out. Worse, your consumers may start to think that you don’t care about them.
Remember to invite two-way dialogue on your social channels. Treat your channel as a discovery tool as much as a marketing tool with which you can speak directly to your consumers and pick their brains.
Keep the focus on your consumers. Even if you’re sharing news or asking questions, make sure you’re talking about the things that they’re interested in, and don’t just harp on and on about your brand.
7. Ignoring or deleting mentions.
Just like in the real world, it’s important for your brand to acknowledge when somebody speaks to you. One of the worst things you can do is ignore a message that’s directed at you, even if it’s negative.
When you’re confronted with negative feedback, transparency will go a long way. Your consumers will be more receptive to your brand coming clean or offering to work through a problem than your brand sweeping an issue under the rug.
By attempting to rewrite history or deleting a message, you risk magnifying the problem by angering your customer more.
Thankfully, there are many opportunities for you to turn negative situations around. In my personal experience, brands like Verizon and Zoe’s Kitchen have been very responsive on social media and have been applauded for how they’ve handled cries for help.
For example, not too long ago, @VerzonSupport solved an issue that I’d been experiencing for months prior to tweeting their handle. Fast forward several months and I’m now writing about them in this blog and tweeting about my positive experience.
Notice the engagement around my tweet. Several people replied to my tweet to share their stories and express their gratitude to @VerizonSupport. #FreePR
8. Not leveraging your team or buyers.
Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind: you can’t do it alone. Your branded channels won’t have the same impact as a personal handle, which is associated with a person—a fellow consumer or an individual with human thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
That’s why it’s essential for you to leverage the people who have a direct connection to your brand, and can give honest examples of when your brand impacted their lives.
But don’t just expect your employees and buyers to promote your brand without being asked. Ask them to share their feedback or to provide a customer quote. Run campaigns or fun contests for collecting user-generated content (UGC), which you can cross-promote on your branded channels. Empower them to tell your brand story.
Remember to express your gratitude after asking for their support. Whether you send a small gift, discount, or a simple message, keep the good vibes going by saying thank you.
9. Hiring influencers just because they’re popular.
Influencer marketing may seem like the golden ticket to becoming successful on social media, but that’s not always the case. Influencer marketing can quickly suck up money if you’re working with the wrong influencer or are vying for the same influencers as everyone else.
When it comes to finding an influencer, follower count can’t justify a partnership. Prospects must have real influence over your target audience, as well as a natural interest in a brand like yours.
You should also be able to trust influencers to speak for your brand without your constant involvement. Though influencers may require coaching, you shouldn’t have to play helicopter manager and control their content creation. This defeats the purpose of hiring them in the first place.
Here are some data-driven techniques for identifying the right influencer for your brand. Once you move onto the next step of vetting an influencer, remember to date before you marry. The vetting process is crucial for developing an actual relationship with him/her and confirming that he/she is the right fit.