As a so called social media “expert,” I have been asked several times by friends, coworkers, and clients what are the most common mistakes being made by businesses on social media. In an attempt to answer this question simply, I have outlined 8 common themes that I have either learned through my own mistakes or through observation of other brands.
This is by far the most common mistake I have seen in social media marketing. As social media has become increasingly popular for small businesses, many are now joining simply because “everyone else is doing it.” They create a Facebook and Twitter account and start posting without any real goal or strategy in mind. Often this does not lead to a great deal of followers, no interaction, and ultimately no significant rise in sales or leads. Thus, the business then see’s social media as unnecessary and they stop using it.
Before you even create a Facebook page, come up with at least some bit of strategy. Determine what your goals are (increased sales, building brand awareness, education, customer feedback?). Once you have a simple strategy in place, you can begin posting and working toward interacting with your target audience.
2. Missing the target audience
Simply just posting on Facebook or sending out a Tweet won’t cut it. Brands need to understand who they are trying to reach and what they need to say to reach them. Far too many clients have told us, “We are trying to target everyone.” Um…are you serious? You must have skipped out on your marketing 101 class right? No brand will EVER succeed by trying to target “everyone.” Determine who your audience is and only share things that they will find worthwhile. Once your audience is defined, you can begin targeting them. Using Facebook Ads and Twitter Hashtags properly are a great way to get started.
3. Not engaging with audience
Your primary goal in using social media should be audience engagement. When others comment or reply to your posts or tweets, interact with them! Ask your followers questions, use humor and be witty, thank them for interacting with your page. Interaction will help your followers understand your brand and will help you gain their trust.
4. Too much automation
This mistake goes right along with not engaging with your audience. There are several social media tools out there that will automatically send updates for your pages (see # 6). These tools can be extremely effective, but if used too much they can be harmful. Consumers want to feel they are interacting with a real person, not a machine. Take the time to reach out to your followers and interact with them and even if you do use a scheduling tool, write the posts yourself.
5. Using all social media sites the same
Each social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others) is different and should be treated as such. Do not post the exact same message across each platform. Facebook posts and Tweets should look different, even if you are expressing the same general idea. Take the time to get to know each platform and what is appropriate for that platform.
6. Misunderstanding post timing and frequency
Along with different formats for sharing content, each platform is unique in how often content should be shared. Generally, you should not post on Facebook more than once a day, while on Twitter it is acceptable to tweet just about as often as you want (as long as you aren’t alienating your followers). Similarly, learn to share content at times that are most appropriate for your followers; 5am is probably not the best time to be tweeting. Facebook and Twitter insights will help you understand when your followers are online and when the best times to post are. This is where scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck can come in handy but remember if you use them to still look for opportunities to engage with your followers.
7. Only posting about products and services
Remember, social media is all about engaging your followers and helping them have a positive experience with your brand. Avoid only posting about you and your products/services. If you use social media simply to advertise, you will not gain the following you need to be successful. Post about things that are relevant to your brand, but not necessarily directly related. Post tips and advice, interesting articles, funny pictures and videos, and ask questions. It is OK to talk about yourself, just don’t do it too much!
8. Poor comment management
Once you gain a solid following and people are regularly interacting with your social media posts you need to make sure you monitor the conversations that are happening. However, monitoring does not mean that you automatically delete negative comments. Instead, use them as an opportunity to show how your company deals with difficult customers or how you react to customer complaints. Be polite and do everything you can to remedy the situation and help the unhappy person. Going out of your way to mange these negative comments will do much more for your brand’s image than simply deleting them.