Social Media Marketing is the key to your business competing with larger companies; it is one place in business where you can level the playing field for little cost and beat the big guys at their own game.
Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin present new and novel ways to connect directly with your customers. Whether you're a brand new startup or a established business, Social Media should now be a big part of your Online Marketing Plan. Everytime a new customer interacts with your company they are forming a thumb nail impression of what you are all about; you have very little time to grab their attention and get them interested in your products and services.
Often that first introduction is via your Social Media channels, so it makes sense to get Social Media Marketing done right the first time. With that in mind, here are the 8 Social Media Blunders your company should avoid.
1. No Social Media Plan
Organizations without a Social Media plan never seem to quite get their message out to the right people - potential customers. Without a marketing plan, your message becomes incoherent and confusing; it may even start to work against you. To succeed your Social Media channels must have three things: a clear and consistent voice, measurable goals and objectives, and an established posting schedule.
If you fail to prepare a Social Media Plan, your social media posts will appear as random ranting and may actually hurt your brand and reputation. A good Social Media Marketing plan puts you solidly on the way to offering valuable, timely and "sticky" content to your potential audience.
2. Too Many Social Media Accounts
You don't need to sign up for every new Social Media Platform that pops up! Yes, it's a good idea to have a presence on more than one social channel, but not necessarily when you are first striking out into the mysterious land of Social Media.
Small businesses get more bang for their buck by concentrating on one Social Media channel and mastering it before moving on to others. If you open a ton of new channels on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram and then do little to nothing with them, how does that make your company look? Would you trust a company that doesn't finish what it starts or worse doesn't have the capital or manpower to maintain their social media? A lot of potential clients would assume that company was either out of business or on it's way to the dustbin and will take their business to a competitor.
3. Buying your Friends
Don't be like the Donald! Remember your true objective is to build real customer connections and not to concentrate on just getting the numbers. Racking up a huge number of followers (and the perceived credibility that goes with them) requires a significant upfront time investment and sustained efforts to maintain.
Purchasing followers will ultimately backfire and damage your brand if (and when) you get caught. What would new clients think if one of the first things they learn about company is its shady marketing practices? Or if they did a little investigation themselves and discover most of your followers are offshore and/or have obvious fake profiles? Buying followers hurts your reputation and ultimately will cost you business.
4. Only Yakking about Your Brand
Again, don't be like the Donald. If you use your social networks to be 24 Hour ME ALL THE TIME, customers are generally going to start tuning you out. Granted, your ultimate goal is to promote your business, but you still need include other content that is appropriate for your business but that's not all about you. A Good Rule of thumb is to follow the 5-3-2 Plan for Social Media, which will keep your followers engaged and help you assemble a bigger and better Twitter army. So let's say you publish on the average ten posts every week:
- Five posts should be relevant and useful content from outside sources
- Three posts should be content about you that is useful to your audience but is not a sales pitch
- Two posts should consist of light, easy read content that helps personalize your business
5. Hashtag Misuse and Abuse
Hashtags are a great way to differentiate your content and brand in the overcrowded Social Media landscape. However, #Overusing #hashtags #is #obnoxious and #dilutes your #message. So don't do it. Use some restraint when it comes to hashtags and only use them when they are on message with your content and audience.
Overuse of hashtags makes your posts hard to read by humans and your profile look like a Spam machine to be avoided.
6. Too Much, Too Often
Speed posting message after message within minutes or even hours can really piss off your audience and potential new clients. The name of the game should be to post messages on a consistent schedule and space them out in a logical fashion. Do this and you can avoid annoying your connections and flooding your channel with what likely will be considered Spam.
Many people get annoyed easily when a company constantly appears in their timeline or inbox and will simply unfollow or unsubscribe, eliminating any chance of a future connection.
7. Not Using Spell Check
Think about the last time you came across some content on the web and spotted an obvious spelling mistake. If it is an established business you have a good impression of, it's that much more jarring. Or how about that off key tweet with bad or missing grammer? You start wondering if a business is that slipshod with their forward looking face, what level of service or quality am I going to get as a customer?
Poor attention to spelling and proper grammar can harm your brand building efforts and tarnish your online image. Many customers (not just grammar nazis) take notice when “it’s” is used instead of “its” or “their” rather than “they’re”.
Having to proofread your work is time consuming but well worth the effort. If you are having trouble, enlist a seperate pair of eyes to spot any grammar or spelling disasters. If no one else is available, give yourself a break and re-review your work later that day. Often you will spot the errors you missed the first time. Most modern word processing can identify spelling as well as grammer errors easily and offer recommendations to correct them.
8. Alienating Your Followers
The followers who interact with your company on social media expect some kind of response from you. Maybe not individually, but at least a conversation with the group as a whole regarding relevant issues. What they don't want are canned or fake PR responses that take away the human element of the interaction.
Addressing complaints, comments and suggestions honestly goes along way to establishing meaningful human connections. Who really wants to interact and do business with a faceless machine? People want to feel they are a part of something and not just a lonely cog. If your business can interact with customers in a genuine, authentic way you will be rewarded with increased sales and customer satisfaction.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Nicole Yearly