With half of the US on Facebook, professionals are spending more and more time using social media platforms to engage with customers, build a solid brand reputation and boost sales. However, whether you’re new to social media marketing or an old hand, there are some classic social media mistakes to be avoided…
If you wish, you can automate the vast majority of your business’s online activity and in fact, that’s one of the big attractions of operating online: all the apps and tools that can make your life easier by scheduling posts, sending form responses to messages and so on. But the secret to success in social media marketing is the quality of your interaction with your followers and partners and the ‘robot approach’ is unlikely to cut it. Automated interaction soon appears impersonal and the exact opposite is what you need.
Twitter doesn’t have strict opening hours. Facebook doesn’t close its doors. Once you’re online and effectively global, you may have incoming messages right around the clock. Depending on the size of your operation it may be difficult but ideally you’ll have someone monitoring social media activity 24 hours a day, if only to deal with complaints or ‘issues’ promptly.
Business/personal account crossover.
Most business owners have personal social media accounts as well as business. Indeed, setting up the business Facebook page via your personal account affords you some extra functionality (including enhanced search and ‘like’ functions) but… The ease with which you can toggle back and forth between these personal and business profiles leads to easy mistakes. Either keep your accounts entirely separate or alternatively operate a strict policy of not posting anything critical on your personal account (that way, you won’t accidentally post inappropriate content on your business page).
Personal posts by employees.
Similarly, you may wish to consider a social media policy for employees. Often their personal profiles include place of work which effectively links anything they post to your business. What might be amusing to their friends and family might be damaging to your business when shared more widely (a clear case of viral marketing working against your interests) And that’s before we consider deliberately harmful or malicious content posted by disgruntled employees… A policy won’t necessarily stop these problems but it will give you an objective framework in which to deal with them.
Beware the #hashtag.
Placing a hashtag on your posts can be a good way of encouraging and starting a broader conversation, thus extending your potential reach – all good so far. However, always do a quick check to see whether that hashtag is already in use. You may find your material associated with an existing conversation that you have no wish to be part of. And given that you may be choosing business-related tags, you may even be linking yourself to a competitor.
Being too pushy.
The biggest mistake for marketers approaching social media for the first time is to view it as a simple extension of their other brand-building activities; in other words (to put it bluntly) as another route to encourage, cajole and even manipulate likers, sharers and followers into making a purchase. This results in ‘hard’ in-your-face tactics and exhortations to buy.
However, this approach doesn’t work on social media. Although it is an excellent marketing lever, it’s worth remembering that people are not using social media primarily to buy. They’re here to engage, share, have fun, be part of a community, etc. In this context, a better marketing strategy is to take an ‘outreach’ approach. Go easy, go slow. View the process as one of joining a conversation, building a relationship, generating a lead, then converting from lead to sale. Attempting a short cut is likely to be counter-productive creating additional social media mistakes. Instead, try giving people an insight into your business, your people, your plans… Make your business into a story that people can be interested in, want to share and – most importantly – want to be part of.