According to Statistica, in 2020, the number of social media users will reach nearly 3 billion (2.95bn to be exact) – that’s 40% of the current world population. When you think of that as a marketing platform for businesses, social media is now an essential if not vital part of any business’s digital marketing strategy. Not only does a social media presence play a crucial role in building a company’s online reputation and brand presence but also serves to enhance customer engagement.
Yet it’s naïve to think that just being ‘out there’ is good enough. Successful businesses invest a great deal of human and financial resources that are solely committed to maintaining long-term social media strategies and managing their social communities.
However, before you start to invest your resources into updating your Facebook status or creating your next tweet, it’s crucial to have a strong strategy in place with defined goals and objectives. Purely improvising won’t cut it.
There are various pitfalls along the road to social success – some will cost you money, your reputation, or both. Here are 6 fundamental mistakes that many businesses fall victim to. Know, confront and overcome them.
Spreading Yourself Too Thin
Building a social media campaign takes time and effort, even if you’re only working with one platform. With the plethora of social media platforms available today and new ones seemingly emerging every other month, it’s easy to get lured into the trap of trying to build a presence on all of them.
Creating and maintaining a successful campaign on one platform is difficult enough, not to mention doing it on several of them. Smart small businesses know that resources are limited, so they choose social platforms where their target audience is already thriving.
Start narrow and then branch out!
It’s important to remember that not all platforms are made equal, as not all will be congruous with your business purpose. You have to see where your target audience is and start from there.
Having a ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Kind of Social Strategy
Each social media platform that you use is a different environment. Running your social media strategy devoid of human touch and awareness is the worst thing you can do to your business. Many companies take shortcuts by mechanically sharing the same content across multiple platforms. It’s important to remember that users don’t use just one social media platform but many simultaneously, and always in a way that’s unique to the platform.
When they see the same messages across the board, they lose interest. The last thing you’d want your strategy to result in is robotic updates that scream lazy automation.
Have a unique strategy for each platform. Reach out to users based on the social platforms they’re using. Take into consideration the various social environments and tailor your messages accordingly to have the best impact. Some content might be appropriate to one platform or audience segment but not the other. For example, Instagram is great for posting artistic images that would be somewhat wasted on Twitter.
Not Leveraging Video Content
People get drawn to video content on the internet like nothing else. Gary Vaynerchuck in his article The rise of video marketing on social and how it affects your business describes this phenomenon in detail. He observes that YouTube sees an upload of some 300 hours of video per minute. Clearly there’s a demand! Just imagine the sheer number of people consuming all that video…
If you are not already leveraging video content in your social media strategy, you risk missing out on a huge chunk of engagement, which in business terms ultimately means less traffic and less revenue.
The virility of video is one reason why live streaming apps and websites are growing at such a fast pace. Many customers are turning to video content to engage on a richer scale with one another – and to gather knowledge about the product or service they plan to purchase.
So whether it’s for fun or business, video content should play a significant role in your social media strategy.
Not Engaging with Followers as You Should
Do you reply to comments from your followers on your Facebook page? Do you invite comments on your Facebook page? Do you participate in discussions with your fans on your Twitter account? If not, then you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to build goodwill.
The best business accounts on social engage with their followers, answer their questions, ask them questions and generally foster engagement on a daily basis.
Yes, it definitely takes much longer to have one-on-one conversations with your followers, but the reward is worth it.
Whenever you get a comment from a follower, jump at the opportunity. Be quick and thoughtful in your replies. You wouldn’t ignore somebody on the street asking about something you’re interested in – so don’t do it online, either.
If your audience feels your business is not responsive or bothered to engagement, they will quickly lose interest and will be unlikely to consider your product. This is one of the biggest and deadliest mistakes that a business can make.
Failing to build trust
Companies that engage proactively with their customers are able to generate trust much more efficiently. As your accounts grow to have follower counts with 4, 5, even 6 zeros, it won’t be possible to engage with every single one of them, but make sure to do so with as many as you can.
This way, others will see how you’re interacting with fans which will help build long-term trust by showcasing that you prioritise customer views and not just your own content.
Never focus on simply increasing the number of followers on your site, focus on the quality and the satisfaction of those who are already present.
Finally, a word of caution here, do not ignore or delete negative comments from your social following, unless it’s wanton trolling. People post negative feedback because they’re frustrated. If you don’t address these comments you are validating their feelings that your business does not care about their needs. Take complaints in your stride, provide effective customer service and you’ll not only win back the loyalty of any disgruntled customers, you’ll prove to onlookers that you’re committed to making things right.
Too Much Self-Promotion
The reason your business even has a presence on social media is because you ultimately want more business. That’s fine, and customers are aware of it too. While self-promotion is necessary, remember that many of your social followers are aware of your products already – they don’t need another broad sales pitch. So while the odd promotional post – perhaps outlining a new product or service – is forgivable, incessant promotional material is tiring.
Bombarding people with the same kind of promotional stuff is a bad strategy. Too much self-promotion becomes kind of like spam email, adding no value whatsoever to your followers and fans. In such cases, you will only end up alienating existing customers who will unfollow you.
Instead, think about what your audience would like to know, or what they are interested in, and then post more of that. Add useful links that may not be directly related to your company. Add general info about your industry and so on. Educate the customer. If you provide the value, they’ll provide the patronage.
This strategy will contribute to follower growth too as it’s part of the inbound approach. You’re providing content that people want and when they search for it, they’ll find you. Converse is a company that does this all too well. Their Facebook page currently shows 36,140,907 followers! It’s easy to become desensitised to the quantity of social followings online today, but that truly is a huge amount. It’s not a number that exactly rolls off the tongue, it’s that substantial.
Your social media accounts reflect your company values. Are you truly listening to your customers? Are you interested in what they have to say? Are you talking with them or at them? Are you merely interested in what you want, or do you really want to serve your customers?
Remember that you’re dealing with intelligent beings who are perceptive enough to understand these essential and very basic elements about your brand. Don’t give them a bad experience.
How you engage with your customers on social can make all the difference to your bottom line and your level of happiness, as well as theirs. Pay attention to it. Make it worth your resources.
For more valuable digital marketing advice that could help your small business, check out AppInstitute’s essential list of 31 digital marketing tactics for small businesses.