Guest post by Gary Dek.
Social media is an integral component of any successful digital marketing strategy. With 74 percent of adults using social networking sites, the opportunity to increase your site’s online exposure to new customers cannot be ignored.
While the ROI of social media marketing remains hotly debated, there is no doubt that it can be a great tool for optimizing your web presence—or total nightmare experience depending on the execution of your strategy. Here is a list of social media marketing mistakes to avoid, and ways to ensure your campaign’s success.
- Paying for fans and followers.
Having thousands of fans, followers, and likes leverages the power of validation and social proof, especially since visitors tend to take positive action when they see others have already shared the page.
However, social media sites have algorithms that track and analyze user engagement and interaction, including the number of people interested in an account’s updates as a percentage of total followers. When businesses have low engagement rates, platforms limit the reach of certain accounts because the numbers indicate low relevance and interest among followers. Therefore, fake followers only serve to hurt brands in the long run.
Instead of wasting money on paid fans, spend more time on creating your strategy and increasing your fan base organically. Considerations include:
- Having specific, measurable goals with timelines.
- Creating a system or set of policies for updates, such as the types of posts allowed and how employees should respond to feedback, criticism, or suggestions.
- Identifying the appropriate corporate persona and tone via social media.
- Using too many social networks.
Research shows that marketers generally focus on three social networks: LinkedIn (91%), Twitter (85%), and Facebook (81%). However, the three social networks you should focus on depend on your niche or industry.
Recent research shows that the largest social platforms of 2014 were:
- Facebook, 1.28 billion active users
- Google Plus, 540 million active users
- Twitter, 255 million active users
- Instagram, 200 million active users
- LinkedIn, 187 million active users
- Pinterest, 40 million active users
If your primary demographic is women and your site relies heavily on images and graphics, you should allocate resources to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you offer professional advice, services or products, LinkedIn and Twitter will yield the best results. The networks you dedicate time to should yield the highest ROI for your niche and target demographic; otherwise, your time, money, and resources would be better spent elsewhere.
- Failing to use (or optimize) hashtags.
Harness the power of hashtags by creating your own. If your own hashtag gets picked up, then you’ll have a viral thing going. It is critical that you create a hashtag that has a specific message, one that’s interesting, engaging and free of ambiguity.
Examples: #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin (the toilet paper company) and #SFBatKid (remember Miles, the 5-year-old kid who had cancer and wanted to become a superhero for a day? He even caught the attention of President Obama!).
Brands should also be using trending hashtags. This can help spike your reach and inject your brand into trending conversations. So, how do you find trending hashtags that you can use effectively?
- Use tools such as Hashtagify.me to identify hashtags that are related to your business.
- Then use RiteTag.com to tell you when a hashtag is overused, and that you should choose another hashtag to piggyback off of. This way, your content won’t get lost in the sea of tweets and posts.
- Isolating social media marketing from other activities.
The focus on social media marketing is so high that some marketers forget the other assets of the business. In order for social media marketing to reach its full potential, it has to be tied in with a business’s website, blog, product pages, and other digital platforms—the essence of the web presence optimization (WPO) framework.
Setting up and growing a business blog is critical to your brand’s long-term success. After all, followers don’t want to click-through to product pages from Twitter, but are more than willing to check out interesting news, tips, advice, or guides.
For instance, if you manage a skincare product company, linking to a page selling acne medicine won’t get you many visits. On the other hand, blog posts titled “Top Skin Care Experts Reveal Secrets” or “How To Feel Confident In Your Own Skin” will get tons of engagement. The added benefit is that consumers will also develop positive associations with your brand.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers often make is pushing their brand too hard. Don’t be overly promotional and forget to share some value-added content. This means brands shouldn’t only broadcast their own posts, products, and company-specific information. Showing the consumer you care about their well-being, regardless of whether they buy your product, is critical to developing a loyal fan base.
- Not using visuals to drive engagement.
The power of visual content cannot be overstated. For example, on Twitter:
- Photos average 35% more Retweets
- Videos earn 28% more
- Famous quotes get 19% more
- Tweets with numbers achieve 17% more
- Hashtags receive 16% more
With a high volume strategy, the boost you can achieve with a visual aid is too good to past up.
- Including the full URL in the description.
When you paste a link in the status field, Facebook generates a clickable image/excerpt. The link you’ve pasted is thus redundant, should be removed and a catchy description should be incorporated. The bare link should never take the place of your description.
An expansion of this concept can be applied to Twitter—don’t use long, full URLs in your Tweets. Marketers should leverage URL shorteners (including Twitter’s own) to leave space for other users to respond or share. Also, URL shorteners such as Bit.ly or Google can help you track the number of click-backs.
- Sharing too much at once and overwhelming your followers’ feeds/streams.
Sharing posts one after another within a few minutes time is a good way to get people to unfollow you or overlook all your posts. Businesses should use scheduling tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to space out tweets and posts for optimal sharing times. For Facebook, marketers can visit “Insights” then “Posts” to see what times most fans are online.
On the other end of the spectrum, sharing infrequently or irregularly will make your followers forget you. Create a regular posting schedule so your readers know when to expect new content from you.
- Ignoring comments/tweets.
Whoever is responsible for your social media marketing strategy and message should be responsive to customers by replying to comments on Facebook, tweeting to customers on Twitter, thanking followers for Retweets, and proactively engaging with others, including influencers.
Similarly, brands must deal with negative messages as quickly as possible. If you ignore this aspect of your marketing efforts, you’re bound to lose credibility and followers. Sometimes turning a negative experience into a positive one by rectifying issues can earn a company life-long customers.
- Not measuring results.
To optimize results, businesses need to analyze their social media marketing efforts. Is your reach growing? Are you engaging more followers month after month, or are your engagement stats decreasing? Is your social message consistent with your mission statement and branding? If possible, can you calculate an ROI? What metrics are important to you?
Whether you’re getting positive or negative results, analyzing and understanding your performance is crucial to a successful marketing campaign. But remember, it’s not just about getting more followers, comments, likes, etc. You can be growing your account every month, but if your effort isn’t translating into sales revenue, lead generation, growing your email subscriber list or whatever your goal is, you are wasting your time.
While the idea of going viral and earning thousands of shares and likes is exciting, businesses should always keep in mind that social media is a tool within a broad, overall marketing strategy—every aspect of which must be laser focused and executed. By avoiding these social media marketing mistakes, marketers can prevent setbacks and further grow their online presence.
What mistakes have you avoided or committed and learned from?
Gary Dek is a professional blogger, writer and SEO expert. He helps new and experienced bloggers grow their online businesses at BloggingTips.com.