Very few businesses need convincing that social media is a worthwhile tool for marketing in 2017. Even the most non-tech of CEOs appreciate that having an active social presence is a mandatory for any brand that wants to compete in its industry, particularly for the attention of Millennials and Gen Z.
What makes social channels more appealing though is that they’re so easily accessible. If you’ve ever assumed that you don’t need a professional to launch a profile, create captivating posts, and grow a loyal online following, you are not alone. Particularly in small and medium sized businesses, owners often assign these tasks to the digital native in the office, or even handle it themselves.
Now, this post does not exist to claim that you can’t deliver success if an experienced social media marketer is not running your online presence, you definitely can. However, a lot of the businesses that approach us here at Gatecrasher for social media support are in the above scenario, and are struggling to see results. Usually, the lack of success can be attributed to one or more of these seven common but easily avoided mistakes...
1. Having no documented social media strategy
Understanding how social platforms fit into your wider business goals should always be step number one. Will this channel ensure you retain existing customers, drive new prospects, increase brand awareness amongst your target audience, or all of the above? Once you know this, document exactly how the content you share will achieve each of these business goals, plan content ‘themes’ off the back of this, and set measurable KPIs to track over time.
2. Treating social media as a broadcast channel
This one is a real bugbear of mine; social media is not another channel to push out sales and retail-led communications. The secret to success on all social media channels is to treat them as you would a two-way conversation offline. If you were to meet somebody new at a party, or on a blind date, would you talk about yourself non-stop, or try to judge what that person might be interested in and find a common topic that interests you both? Social media is no different to this. Try to ‘sell’ yourself constantly and people will quickly ignore you.
3. Settling for low quality creative
Generally, people respond to and remember visuals more than text, so lazy or low quality creative sitting on your profile can be the fastest way to lose a potential new follower. Creating professional, great-looking cover photos and posts should be a focus for any business on social media. Many agencies with in-house production facilities are able to do this within a small budget if you don’t have the skills internally.
4. Not putting your audience first
This point circles back to mistake number two. Besides their demographic information, what do you really know about the people you are trying to speak to online? Where do they go for inspiration, information, or advice as part of their purchase process? Figure out where you can add value to their online experience, even if that doesn’t lead to an immediate opportunity for you.
5. Choosing only the popular social platforms
In terms of general reach, the well-known social networks are obvious choices. If you’re looking to reach a particular buyer type though, home renovators for example, there may be other channels that should play a prominent role in your social strategy, like Houzz. As part of the audience research you’ll do to ensure you’re avoiding mistake number four, work out which networks your specific audience are most active on, and make those a priority.
6. Expecting overnight results
Social media presence is like a snowball; it gets bigger the longer it’s rolling. Launching a social strategy and expecting to see results in the short-term is often unrealistic. It’s not completely unachievable to drive tangible business results soon after you go live, but it’s much more likely that the brand affinity you’ll build over a longer period of time will deliver the most consistent stream of prospects/customers, as your online reputation grows.
7. Not using software to measure and optimise
The insights social media channels give you as part of the built in reporting are often limited to engagement metrics, and restricting to analyse. If you’re active on social media, you should be posting through an automation tool that can offer greater abilities to input your KPIs and track these in-depth over time. Just a few of these include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and AgoraPulse Manager. They range in pricing and functionality, so find the one that’s right for your business and take the time to assess and optimise on a monthly basis.
If I’m honest, there are probably a few more common mistakes to add to this list, but these seven are the ones I see most. As you’ve probably realised, they are all easily fixed, so whether you’re handling your social media presence internally, or working with an external partner, now is a good time to review your activity and ensure you’re not guilty of making any.
Think you could do with some expert social media support? Take a look at the Gatecrasher social media approach.