Social media has become entrenched in the daily routines of Americans of every age group. As businesses strive to incorporate social media as a communication tool, many struggle with the basics. We work closely with companies to help them be more effective in their use of social media. Here are nine social media mis-steps we see, and how you can correct course.
10 Social Media Wrongs to Make Right
- Having no strategy. Nothing in marketing ever goes well without a strategy, and that goes the same for social media. If you don’t know why you’re posting content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest, for example, then stop right away. Without a strategy, you’re wasting your time.
- Trying to communicate with everyone. It’s really important to know who your customers and prospects are, what interests them in your products or services, as well as which social networks they choose to use. If you attempt to communicate with every demographic on every channel, instead of your true target audience, then your message becomes generic, trite and falls on deaf ears.
- Thinking of social media as a one-way street. This is a grave error that is easily rectified. Social media is exactly that: social. When you build your network on each channel, ensure that you’re engaging in conversation with followers. You’ll find that by engaging you will generate more attention in your stream and show that your business is interested as well as accessible to others.
- Measuring success via vanity metrics. Perhaps you’re aware that Facebook and Instagram removed the tally of “likes” from each post. If that’s how you measured the effectiveness of each post, then you’re only trying to measure a small indicator of social media success. Counting likes and numbers of followers are not as meaningful as measures of engagement and conversion (such as clicks on links that lead to a purchase or registration for an event).
- Ignoring hashtags. Hashtags provide a great opportunity to help identify the content, intent or focal point of your posts. If you ignore the effectiveness of hashtags, then your social media posts may go unnoticed by others seeking the very information you are providing. While hashtags don’t make the post, they are helpful in identifying a category of like-minded users in each channel.
- Use of one-way scheduling tools. There are many tools that "manage" social media by scheduling posts throughout the week to all your social media channels. Not only does the broadcasting of the exact same post in all channels disregard the different interests of followers on each channel, but... why should someone follow you on multiple channels if they will get the same post 4 times? In a sense, you are punishing them for following your company in multiple places. In response, many people will stop following you in all but one channel, since there is really no benefit to doing so.
In addition, the use of these scheduling tools encourages somewhat of an 'autopilot' posting habit. What happens when someone engages with your content and nobody’s home? Your audience just fizzled a little because no one answered in real time. Some of these tools do provide monitoring functionality; just be sure to monitor posts and engagement so you are accessible and building relationships along the way.
- No company policy. Without a company policy, social media is a Wild West of staff posting. Beyond the obvious danger of having sloppy, off-brand posts, there is also significant opportunity for liability. In the absence of a policy, there are no guidelines for those who post content to know the ethical or legal boundaries for the company. No one wants to be publicly embarrassed on social media, so it’s up to the corner office to set rules in advance so that negatives are avoided.
- Being everywhere. We did mention it’s good to know where your customers hang out; not only does posting on the channels your target market use make sense, it also is the most manageable approach. Choose the channels that are most effective for your business. If you’re a B2B company, focus on LinkedIn and possibly Twitter and/or Facebook. If you’re an artisan retail shop, then hit Facebook and Pinterest. If you have an engaging CEO who loves to talk, then put her on Instagram and Facebook in stories and live video. Be selective in evaluating which channels will give you the best audience among your prospects and clients, and focus your efforts there.
- Having no gauge. While social media is more than "just the numbers", that doesn't mean you shouldn't be measuring your results. Without any KPIs (key performance indicators), your efforts are a blind attempt at connection. Metrics enable you to evaluate how effectively you are reaching your audience, and provides a benchmark that can shape the direction of your efforts moving forward.
- Being stilted. People on social media want to know there's a human behind a post. Do use personable tone and communicative style when posting on any channel.
Once your company finds it's "voice" in social media, you'll find it becomes second nature and you will naturally begin communicating in a personal way. Let your company's personality and culture shine through, in an engaging and authentic way. You may just find that social media is your best tool for connecting with clients and the community!