Social media marketing is a very valuable tool for business owners and brand managers. When done well, it can be one of the fastest, most affordable and most effective ways to build a brand online, grow a following, drive targeted traffic, increase conversions and more.
But because there are so many moving parts it can be easy to make mistakes, wasting time and resources on tactics that simply won’t work (or, worse, hurt a brand’s reputation).
Luckily we can learn a lot from our industry peers and competitors. Where have they made missteps on social media and how can we avoid making them ourselves? Here are 10 of the most common ones:
- Not starting with a solid social media marketing strategy
- Failing to define, find and “speak to” your target audience(s)
- Failing to establish your social persona; failing to find your voice
- Failing to achieve clear, consistent and persuasive branding across channels
- Not taking enough care with content
- Trying to “set it and forget it”
- Being “self-centred”; not performing meaningful engagement
- Counting on organic growth; not using paid tools
- Not tracking results; failing to measure success
The good news? Avoiding these mistakes is easy. Learn how now by reading on, and then check out Stir Marketing’s free resource, “Intro to Social Media for Business Growth” here.
- STRATEGY: Not starting with a solid social media marketing strategy
There are so many opportunities for business growth on social media, and the fact that much of it is free can be very exciting. However, while some aspects of social media marketing are free, the time and resources put into doing it are not. And without a solid plan, a business can waste precious time and resources, and—worse—make some serious missteps.
A strategic social plan, even a simple one, will help to keep things on track—mapping out the who, what, when, where, why and how of posting, engagement and promotions to ensure that all activities are functioning to support business goals (within the confines of available time and resources). A good plan will also lay out tactics for measuring success so a business can see quickly what’s working and what’s not.
- TARGETING: Failing to define, find and “speak to” your target audience(s)
A good strategic social plan will include detailed target market analysis, and define target audience(s), audience segments and audience personas. That information helps a business to choose the right branding, the right voice, the right social networks, the right content, the right posting and engagement plan, the right promotions, and more.
A business that doesn’t properly define their target market and forges ahead simply hoping the right people will find them on social will likely fail. They’ll be posting into a veritable vacuum, spending time and resources on social media marketing tactics that won’t get results, drive targeted traffic, or convert social fans into paying customers.
- VOICE: Failing to establish your social persona; failing to find your voice
Social media marketing is about having meaningful interactions to form meaningful connections. For a business, the hope is that those meaningful connections will ultimately turn into paying customers. But it’s hard for a brand to have a meaningful interaction with a person.
Creating and maintaining a social persona helps a business to have interactions with people on social media that feel more authentic. (Note: Create a social persona without the target market in mind and social content will fall on deaf ears. Create a social persona with the target market in mind and those people—a business’s ideal customers—will find the brand more relatable and trustworthy—more “human”.)
- BRANDING: Failing to achieve clear, consistent and persuasive branding across channels
The businesses that have the most success on social media have achieved clear, consistent and persuasive branding across all of their social channels. Everything they do (from account set-up and design (imagery) to posting) upholds their brand messaging and speaks to their target market.
In many ways, setting up a social account should be given the same careful consideration as goes into a website’s homepage, a business card or a professional headshot. It’s easy to upload a Cover Photo and add a 140-character bio, but—actually—that photo and bio should be pored over. Getting them right is more important than one might think.
There are a set of best practices for setting up all of the different social accounts, and they should be followed to the letter.
- CONTENT: Not taking enough care with content
Never underestimate the power of a social post, both good and bad. Because it’s so easy to post, and because we’re all accustomed to social media as a personal passtime, and because it’s possible to delete posts if we second-guess ourselves, the whole social posting thing can feel very casual (inconsequential, even).
That is absolutely not the case when it comes to posting on behalf of your business. Everything you post on social should be considered permanent. (You may be able to delete a post, but you can bet that if you accidentally post something that angers or offends, someone will screenshot, save and share it.) So great care should be taken, always.
Perhaps the worst thing a business can do in terms of social posting is to appear tone deaf. Fail to find the right balance in post types, and your Newsfeeds will feel self-promotional only and not provide the value your target audiences are looking for. Fail to consider the bigger picture (ie: overt self-promotion during a Global Pandemic, or missing the boat on an important or trending topic) and it can be even worse.
Carefully considering all social posts will help to ensure that doesn’t happen. And never, ever do the following:
- Don’t post just for the sake of posting
- Don’t post too often or not often enough
- Don’t publish posts with errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling
- Don’t publish posts with broken links, or @mentions that don’t work
- Don’t publish posts without clear calls-to-action
- Don’t underestimate the importance of photos and videos in social
- Don’t use, borrow or steal content; always cite/credit sources
A good social post editorial calendar or content plan where posts are pre-written, analyzed, reviewed, revised and approved before they’re published or scheduled will help to ensure that these mistakes are avoided.
- AUTOMATION: Trying to “set it and forget it”
Social posting can be time consuming, so smart businesses make use of automation tools to make it quicker. You can pre-write and schedule content (including both organic and boosted posts) across multiple channels, many weeks and months ahead of time.
In theory, you really can “set it and forget it” (scheduling posts to keep content flowing into your Newsfeeds). But that’s a mistake (just pushing out promotional content and hoping it “lands”) and means you’re missing out on a huge part of what makes social so valuable—those real-time interactions that become meaningful conversations and connections (and conversions!).
- INTERACTION: Being “self-centred”; not performing meaningful engagement
Think you can just post great content and you’ll see followers and engagements roll in? That might be true if you’re Adele, or maybe every once in a while, but it’s not sustainable.
A business has to perform engagement too. You must be active in your social accounts fairly regularly to truly connect with people and grow your following, foster engagement and convert leads—responding to comments, messages and Visitor Posts (both the good ones and the bad ones), strategically following and engaging with other targeted accounts, and liking, commenting and sharing to show your target market that you hear them and you value them.
- SENTIMENT: Failing to follow best practices when handling negative feedback
At some point every business will get a negative comment or a bad review. Handle it well and you’ll turn it into a positive situation—a chance to show that person (and everyone else who sees the interaction) that you care about them. Handle it badly and it can sink your business. There are best practices that should be followed when responding to negative feedback. Having a plan to employ them should be included in your social strategy so you’re ready.
Failing to acknowledge positive feedback and reviews can be just as bad. A business must acknowledge the good feedback too—thank people, share it. A great, authentic review usually begets more great reviews, but not if the business doesn’t celebrate it.
- PAID REACH: Counting on organic growth; not using paid tools
Social media has become a “pay to play” environment, period. Unless you’re famous or your content goes viral, you won’t get visibility without throwing some money behind a post.
All of the top networks allow for paying to increase reach—boosting, promoting and sponsoring content. Doing so allows you to reach members of your target market who aren’t yet connected with you.
Another mistake? Being impatient. Organic posting and engagement is a long-term plan. Put in the work, be patient and you’ll see results.
- ANALYTICS: Not tracking results; failing to measure success
If you’re not monitoring your social accounts regularly then there’s a good chance you’re missing opportunities or—worse—wasting money. How will you know what posts and engagements are working and which ones aren’t? How will you know if there’s a negative comment that needs attention, or a great review that should be shared?
Measuring success is simple and will help ensure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
Note: Even if you’re doing everything right on social media, you can’t guarantee great results—there are too many variables. What’s happening in your industry? In the world? What are your competitors doing? What’s new on a given social network? What is your target market talking about right now?
Monitoring helps you to know these things and make or change plans to respond, addressing any issues that arise and/or taking advantage of other exciting opportunities for growth.
* * *
Now, hedge your bets against making these mistakes by starting with a solid foundation for your business on social media. Read our free online course “Intro to Social Media for Business Growth”.
It’ll walk you through performing a social media audit, creating a social strategy, setting marketing goals, defining your target audience, refining your brand messaging, best practices social posting and engagement, social ads (Boosted Posts), measuring success and creating a roll-out plan.