Social media is a particularly tricky marketing channel. Because it’s free to create a business page and start posting, social media tends to be an especially crowded marketing channel. It’s also challenging because followers don’t want to be advertised to, but your goal as a marketer is to make the business more profitable. Finally, it’s very public and you’re opening your brand up to very public criticism. The smallest social media missteps have sunk companies. For the first-time social media marketer, the channel can be especially perilous, here are five common mistakes to be aware of and avoid as you enter the world of social media marketing.
No defined social strategy
Without a social media strategy, every decision is arbitrary and any success is a result of pure luck. More likely, you’ll be making a lot of mistakes, not effectively targeting your audience, and not allocating social media marketing money wisely. A common social media strategy for small businesses is letting a social media savvy teen family member create a Facebook page and post sporadically when he/she feels like it. Not exactly a recipe for success. Take social media marketing seriously. Plan to invest money into it even though social media marketing can be done with no investment. Have a plan for kickstarting your social media presence by using existing channels like SMS, email, and the point-of-sale to encourage people to connect with your brand on social media.
Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to social media platforms
For many first-time social media marketers, Facebook is synonymous with all of social media. While it does have the largest and most general audience, there are many other platforms that may be important pieces in a brand’s social media strategy. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and others should at least be considered. Depending on your brand’s audience and strategy, some of these can be ignored. The platforms you do decide to use shouldn’t be approached with a one-size-fits-all attitude. Every social media platform has features that distinguish it from others and their users also have distinguishing characteristics. While certain elements can tie your social media marketing efforts together across various platforms, for the most part, you should be striving to take advantage of each platform’s distinctive features and audience.
Pushing your own agenda
Social media is different from every other marketing channel in that you don’t want to make it all about your products or services. If you wield social media for nothing but self promotion, you’ll soon lose your audience. Social media marketing is more about engaging with customers and influencers. It’s a chance to participate in a conversation, to share insightful and valuable content, to introduce your brand and it’s core values to the world. That’s not to say you can’t occasionally promote your own products or services. You can, but it can’t be the primary use of social media.
Focusing too much on the wrong metrics
So-called vanity metrics such as “likes,” or shares might make you feel good, but they aren’t necessarily a good indication of social media success. Part of your social media strategy needs to be deciding on specific and measurable goals regarding what you want to get out of social media marketing for your brand. Then you need to decide on metrics you will follow to track your effectiveness at realizing those goals. Free, built-in metrics included with the platform may not be sufficient. Advanced, third-party metrics tools may be a sound investment.
Falling into complacency
The world of social media marketing is ever changing and social media platforms are constantly updating features, adjusting algorithms, and experimenting with new elements. If you’re seeing success with social media marketing, don’t let that lull you into complacency. Stay on top of new features and familiarize yourself with new updates to platforms as they become available. Don’t resist new technologies like chatbots or augmented reality which we’ll soon see playing a much bigger role in social media.
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