Social media marketing is no longer an option–it’s a necessity. With over 2.3 billion people worldwide having social media accounts, it has become a primary venue for brands to connect with their audiences.
The trick, of course, is to do it right. Today’s consumer is savvy, opposed to direct selling of products and services, and wants a different brand experience on social media. It’s called “social” for a reason, and marketers must remember this.
That said, there are some “rules” for social media marketing. And failing to follow them results in these eight most common mistakes.
Receive a copy to read later
1. Spreading Yourself Too Thin
It’s tempting. There is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and a host of other social media platforms. And some marketers assume that if they can just cover them all, they will hit the right customers.
Unless you have a huge marketing staff (e.g., Coca-Cola), you cannot possibly cover all platforms well. And it can be a waste of time if your audience does not hang out on all of these.
Snapchat is a great channel for a younger audience, but if your target customer is older, what are you doing there?
Part of your social media strategy must be to know your audience well, and a part of that is knowing its most popular channels. Do your research. Then, depending on the size of your content marketing staff, pick just a few for focus.
There is more on knowing your audience in some of these other mistakes.
2. Focusing on Your Product or Service More Than Your Audience
This is another big temptation. You want to present your product or service to your prospects, and so you spend a lot of time talking about it, showing it, and encouraging readers/viewers to try it (i.e., buy it).
Internet users are inundated with advertising. They use their social media accounts for conversation, to make connections, and to develop relationships. They want entertainment and perhaps inspiration. What they don’t want is companies selling them stuff.
Take your cue from what people do on social media and follow suit. Your first goal is to establish connections and relationships with your audience. You do this by providing amazing content that engages them with your brand.
They need to get to know you – who you are, what your mission is, your brand story, and more.
You can look at some great examples of brands that entertain and inspire their audiences:
- Check out the Instagram account of Foundr Magazine and read about how CEO Nathan Chan grew his following to 10,000 in just a few months. Selling subscriptions was totally secondary to his primary focus – engaging followers with inspirational messages, superimposed on amazing photos. He posted these several times a day, and offered free issues to those who would share his content with their communities, along with several other tactics.
- Check out the YouTube explainer video of Dollar Shave Club’s founder. For $2500, the video was produced and went viral within weeks. It’s funny, it features the company CEO as quite a character, and it allows followers to see the value of what is offered at the same time.
3. Not Using Your Customers for Social Proof
User-generated content is powerful. It gives proof to audiences that a brand is reputable and trustworthy, and that their products/services are valuable.
Every marketer knows that customer reviews are important, and they put them on their websites, usually in the form of short comments and feedback. But social media provides many ways for customers to share their happiness.
They can submit photos of themselves using the product/service; they can create short videos of themselves on their phones. These are the types of posts that get shared with other communities, consistently spreading your brand to a wider audience.
Headbands of Hope does a great job of this. It is a for-profit company with an important cause – children’s cancer research. For every headband that is sold, one is donated to a child with cancer – most of whom have lost their hair due to treatment – and $1 to cancer research.
Both its website and its social media platforms feature real kids with cancer who have received headbands, providing photos and short stories.
4. Not Using Enough Visuals
No one wants to read lots of words. And if you must use words, do it in short spurts in very simple language. Visuals are what engage audiences, not words.
Some platforms are wholly visual, such as Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. But visuals across all platforms and should be used with every post. You can’t just talk to your audiences, you have to show them.
Explainer and how-to videos are great tools to use on social media – they provide valuable information to your audience, and, if you can add some humor and/or inspiration, all the better.
Some brands are even beginning to use live streaming technology, for information and entertainment.
Red Bull sponsors concerts and extreme sports events – it livestreams them. Think of the shares that go on during these events.
5. Not Involving Your Audience
There are so many ways to get your audience involved, and when they get involved, they are more likely to share that involvement with their friends. Here are some ways in which you can involve your audience:
- Ask question on your posts – not only will you get good discussion going between you and them, but also among them. And you will gain a lot of insight into what their problems and needs are, and they type of content that engages them the most.
- Post surveys and quizzes – people love these and they love to share their results with their communities.
- Hold contests and offer free products to winners – ModCloth, a female clothing retailer, often holds contests for followers to “name” specific pieces of clothing. Then, it asks its followers to vote on the best name. The winner, of course, gets the item for free.
6. Not Telling Stories
Telling stories personalizes your brand. Think about how personal relationships are established between people. They meet, they talk, and they begin to tell stories about themselves to each other.
Over time, they come to trust each other, and the relationship grows stronger.
Think of yourself as a person rather than a brand. What stories do you have to tell? How did your company get started? Who founded the company and why?
Who are the team members and what stories do they have?
Do you sponsor community events or support a charity? Post videos of the events.
Have you ever had a pet day at work, or do you regularly have pets in the office? People love photos of pets. Build-a-Bear Workshop is a pet-friendly work environment, and those “stories” are posted on social media.
The more stories you tell, and the more you tell them through use of visuals, the stronger your relationship will become with your followers. And those visuals will often be shared, if they are engaging enough.
7. Not Differentiating Style and Tone by Channel
The content you post on LinkedIn will be more formal and professional. The content you post on Instagram will be informal and entertaining, with very short text.
You may want to have the same message across all channels. But you have to alter the style and tone of your presentation for each channel.
Most marketers are skilled in specific writing styles, but they may not have the creativity or wit to present well on other channels. If you are struggling with types of style and tone for different social channels, and your team is small, get some outside help.
You can find individual copywriting experts on sites such as Freelancer and Upwork. There are also professional writing services with expert copywriting departments, such as Rewarded Essays and Hot Essay Service. Your presentation style must be right for the channel – don’t take chances with an audience that may not relate to your writing or visuals.
8. Not Using Analytics
How will you know if your social media strategy on each platform is really working? Too often, content marketers will simply keep posting what they think will be the right type, style, and tone for that platform.
The only way to determine the effectiveness of your strategies is to perform the analytics – how many shares are you getting? How many times are links coming back to your pages from which posts? What type of content is the most popular?
Google Analytics is a good tool to get this kind of information. Once you analyze it, you will know what is working and what needs to be revised.
Wrapping It Up
Developing and executing a social media marketing strategy is a bit complex. But if you take a serious look at the above eight common mistakes, you will be able to craft content for each platform that will engage followers, increase your audience, and spread your brand.
About the author: Preston Felix is a graphic designer, traveler and freelance writer for different publishing houses and magazines. He is passionate about covering topics on blogging, traveling, business writing and self-improvement.