Whether you’re a small business with a solitary Twitter account, a mid-sized agency using the latest social monitoring tools, or a huge enterprise with a multi-million pound cross-platform presence, at some point, we all will make mistakes with social media.
It’s OK to be honest and admit that you get confused about social media, its benefits to your organisation and what you should and should not be doing. With so many social media platforms around that are changing all the time and new ones coming along, it can be a real challenge to keep on top of everything….oh and run your business!
Add to that all the noise from every marketer under the sun who is suddenly an expert on what is the right thing to do, there’s no wonder so many businesses just give up on social media before they even get started or they get started then give up because it doesn’t seem to work.
It’s not OK to ignore social media though! Sticking your head in the sand is not an option. Chances are that your customers are talking about you via social media. Your prospects are looking for you. Your competitors will certainly be using social media. You’re missing a relatively cheap marketing opportunity to get your brand noticed in your marketplace.
Hopefully this post can help you to get your head around some of the most common mistakes that organisations make with social media.
#Fail 1 – Build it and they will come
So you’ve paid for a great looking profile photo and background, your ‘About’ section is all filled out, you have call to action to collect leads and you get someone to post your company news and latest offers every month or so. Done? No!
SOLUTION: Update your pages regularly with new and interesting content and engage your users daily. Engagement is THE most important element of social media. A content marketing strategy for your business will really help you engage with your audience in the right way. Content marketing is really about providing valuable information or content to current and potential customers for the purpose of building trust, branding, awareness, and positive sentiment. A successful and ongoing content marketing campaign establishes you as an expert in your field, and that sets the groundwork for a long-term business relationship. Simply put, its primary focus is on building the relationship, not the hard sell.
Types of content that typically form a content marketing strategy include:
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
- Social media posts
- White papers
#Fail 2 – Not committing to social media as a long-term strategy
Too many marketers get all excited about the launch of their Facebook or LinkedIn page, their new Twitter feed or their Google+ community only to forget to update it because the next shiny campaign comes along or the next important event needs organising. Social media does need effort. You need to listen, engage, be true to your organisation’s values and share great content…..not necessarily your own.
SOLUTION: Embrace social media as part of your business every day. If you’re a larger business, make it several people’s job to set aside at least 30 minutes every day to work on it. Don’t try to accomplish everything at once, but take it one piece at a time. It can take a couple of years of effort and great content to build up a solid and engaged following that drives sales and customer satisfaction. You can spend thousands of pounds on Twitter and Facebook advertising to give you thousands of followers but that doesn’t guarantee an engaged audience or indeed an audience that will buy from you.
#Fail 3 – It’s all about me
Unlike traditional marketing where you talk about how great you are and how fantastic your products are and what special offers you have this week, social media is generally about others, your community and what they’re interested in. Only posting about you will very quickly turn your followers off!
SOLUTION: Post content about your industry, your clients and their success, new technology breakthroughs for your industry, ‘how to’ guides and the great things your employees or customers are doing. Ideally you should be looking at a ratio of 1 in 20 posts being about your brand and at worst 1 in 10.
#Fail 4 – Post Overload
There are no rules as to how often you should post on the various social platforms, but you need to be careful about post overload and turning off your followers and connections and/or losing them for good!
SOLUTION: Spread out your posts and plan them. It really does depend on your business and your marketplace as to what the best times of day are to post. Generally on Facebook a page getting good engagement should post 1-5 times per day at most. On LinkedIn, 1 or 2. Spread your posts out through the day to see when the best time is for your page though.
Twitter and Google+ are different to Facebook. People consume information there faster and are not sitting on it staring at the newsfeed like on Facebook. So my recommendation is 5 – 10 posts on Twitter per day and 3 -5 on Google+. That said, there are no hard and fast rules and it really does depend on your market, your geographic reach and your target followers. So at the outset carry out some testing and check out other highly engaged brands in your markets and look at their social media posting volumes so that you can gauge what works and what doesn’t.
#Fail 5 – Not posting at all
This is the exact opposite of #3. Have you ever gone onto a company’s social media page and noticed that they haven’t posted in 4 months? How does it make you feel? For me it lets me know this page owner isn’t switched on or engaged with their customers and prospects. It tells me that they’ve given up or worse have nothing to say!
SOLUTION: Have a content strategy and post at least once per day or at least once every couple of days. Maybe your page is new or you are a small business owner strapped for time. That’s fine. Sit down on Monday morning and schedule a post to go out at least once per day for the whole week. Or maybe even the whole month! If you aren’t posting, then no one is finding out about your company on social media. There are some great tools out there to help you.
#Fail 6 – Everything is fine (when it isn’t!)
Never ignore, or knowingly lie (even a white lie) to, a customer. You will get found out! So many huge international brands have fallen foul of viral complaints that have been ignored. Some have even lost double digit percentage losses on the stock market because of a tweet, YouTube video or Facebook rant. See United Breaks Guitars below. Within 4 days of the video being posted online, United Airlines’ stock price fell 10%, costing shareholders about $180 million in value.
SOLUTION: Don’t stick your head in the sand! You should respond to EVERY pertinent question and post made to your page. It’s ok if your response takes 24 hours sometimes, especially if you are a small business.
The key is to make the person feel their input is important. Even if you don’t have the answer. Simply saying “Hi Sheila thanks for that comment/question and etc. Let me find that out for you.” is better than no response at all. If you treat your followers (potential customers) with kindness and empathy they will remain loyal and not lambast you across the internet
#Fail 7– Inconsistent Messages, Tone of Voice and Branding
In many larger organisations several people are often responsible for social media. They may even split up their social media feeds by person or department to spread the load or even post by function – marketing, customer service, corporate social responsibility, PR, Engineering and so on. You may even have a few ‘Thought Leaders’ blogging independently and in their own time. If these are completely uncoordinated you might end up with different messages going out, with conflicting branding or tone of voice.
SOLUTION: Ensure your branding is recognisable on all platforms and consistent throughout. You’re going to have variations of backgrounds etc. on the different platforms, as the specs are different on each, but your branding should be clear when someone visits your different accounts.There are many inexpensive resources out there to get consistent branding. If you’re serious about your business don’t just throw it together and hope no one notices… because they will.
It’s also important that you’re not too prescriptive with your people, especially your thought leaders. Having some Social Media Guidelines can be really useful to help with this. As long as people are largely on message with what your organisation is about, don’t get involved. You’ll probably find that with the right support, and if their content is good, they’ll drive your Google page rank higher than your marketing department can or indeed your marketing agency.
#Fail 8 – Don’t ‘Panda’ to your audience
Unless your organisation is the RSPCA or World Wildlife Fund, posting only pictures of pandas and cute cats is not likely to drive sales or increased customer satisfaction for your brand. You may get a massive following online, loads of engagement and positive comments, but is that really what you want your social media to be focussed on? I would suggest not.
SOLUTION: If you’re posting dozens of pictures of cute animals and lots of funny videos every day and that has nothing to do with your business, I would suggest only one thing. Stop it! Every once in a while it’s fine to post something to make people laugh or share one of the ‘funnies’ that get floated around online, but if that is your only strategy to garner engagement on your organisation’s pages you’re going to fail.
People will only be commenting because it caught their attention, not because they love your content or want to buy from you. If you’re serious about your business then you owe it to yourself and your followers to post relevant content that adds value to their day.
#Fail 9 – Everywhere, but nowhere
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Pinterest, YouTube, WordPress, StumbleUpon, Reddit and so on. There are literally dozens of social media sites today for business people to wrap their brains around. It can be overwhelming for some.
SOLUTION: Choose ONE, yes I said ONE, platform and master it. At least at first. Don’t feel like you need to be everywhere. The worst thing you can do is to open accounts everywhere and neglect them. Maybe for your niche you’re best suited only focusing on Facebook. Pick the one where you can get the most quality engagement and where you can invest some time.
Once you’ve mastered that one and you want to branch out and add say Twitter, go for it, but don’t feel like on day 1 you have to open an account everywhere. Doing so usually means you get overwhelmed and you end up failing.
#Fail 10 – Keeping Social Media separate from business as usual
I’ve seen this so many times. Your marketing needs to be joined up. It’s not optimal for your marketing agency or marketing department to send out a huge volume of direct mail or email only to find out that your social media, website, PR activities, online advertising and your sales teams exist in isolation from each other; the impact of all of these efforts are magnified by linking them wherever appropriate.
SOLUTION: Marketing activity and PR should link to related content on your website or blog as well as to the profiles of anyone quoted. Your website, email newsletters, even employee email signatures should link to your blog and Twitter account. Product microsites can be linked back to your website or blog for additional information. Cross-linking between these different sites and sources raises your profile in search, maximising your web presence within your industry and product space. Always brief your front-line employees about any major push online or offline!
#Fail 11 – We all mess up – APOLOGISE…and quickly
Sometimes, even the best of us get it wrong. As you’ve seen with ‘United breaks guitars’ some of the biggest brands on the planet have made some major mistakes with their social media. It happens. Especially if you haven’t invested in training or that you have the wrong people managing your social media platforms.
SOLUTION: The culture of social media demands that you address people’s issues. That doesn’t mean you have to discuss every detail in public. So tweet or comment back and say something like “please e-mail me more info” or “looking forward to helping you. Can you DM/message me more?” Also when it’s resolved, tweet that back as well. Try “Thanks so much for letting us know. I hope the issue has been resolved for you?” Follow up is KEY. If it’s on Facebook, make sure you comment on the original stream where the complaint was written.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have more examples of #Fail, I’d love to hear from you!
To learn more about how to use social media be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you keep up-to-date with our latest blogs and news – SUBSCRIBE