Top Three Tips for Avoiding Social Media Pitfalls
Written by Matt Thomson
The Australian digital media landscape has gone through an amazing transformation over the last few years. Social media used to be seen as frivolous and only really big brands had the marketing dollars to throw at engaging their Facebook and Twitter audience. Thankfully that mentality has changed and it’s amazing to see how businesses, big and small are embracing social media. Today, many more businesses are willing to acknowledge that being social is powerful.
However, while social media offers incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with customers and build their brand it’s not enough to just “do” social. The social web is infinitely vast and there is a massive amount of content being produced every day. This means your Facebook or Twitter posts could very well be disappearing into cyberspace without a trace. When this happens, companies usually don’t see much value from their social marketing efforts and start believing social media is more hype than substance.
The problem isn’t with social media - the problem is usually with the way social media marketing (SMM) is handled. With dollar signs in their eyes, many companies jump into social networks without a plan just because it’s the thing to do; because everyone is doing it.
When SMM fails for a company, there is usually a pattern to the reasons behind the failure. To avoid these common pitfalls, businesses need to adopt a strategic approach to social media.
1. Have A Strategy In Place
Social networks are a fun and casual place to be but good social media marketing is serious business. If you really want to see results from social marketing, just “being” on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest isn’t enough. A common pitfall for businesses on social media is not having a proper strategy in place. SMM needs continual research and a solid plan of action. As a business, you need to ask yourself >>>
What are my goals for social media?
Create awareness for your product? Reach a larger customer base? Improve customer relationships?
Where does social fit in with my business objectives?
A good social media marketing plan must be aligned with your business goals and objectives. Is investing in social going to help you expand on these business goals? Will it help you connect with customers? Will it help you make more money?
How do I define social media success?
Measuring your social media marketing is important to assess your performance. What are you going to measure? Are you happy with gathering more followers or are you aiming at engagement? Maybe you want more leads?
Who is going to manage my social media?
Social media isn’t the intern’s job, it should be an integral part of your marketing - are you taking it seriously enough? Does your social media manager understand your social media goals? Do they have enough time to devote to it?
Who is my target audience?
Researching your audience is key. This is discussed in detail below.
Research your audience
Don’t think about your customers as a collective herd of people. Think about an actual person in your target audience. You have to put yourself in their shoes and put a lot of thought into what they like / dislike. Understanding your audience will help you plan your content and your long term social media strategy.
- Are they male or female?
- How old are they?
- Why are they interested in your brand/ product?
- What other interests are they likely to have? What topics would interest your audience?
- What sort of content does this demographic most like to consume - text, photos, videos?
- Which social networks are most appropriate for your target audience?
Research your competitors
You don’t have to copy what your competitors are doing but it’s always a good idea to have a finger on the pulse and see what you’re up against.
- Do your competitors have a social presence?
- What sort of content are the posting?
- Are their followers interacting with them or is it a ghost town?
Plan your content
Once you have answered these questions and hopefully have some insights, you need to put an editorial calendar into place. Posting good, engaging content that your audience will appreciate should be planned ahead instead of doing it ad hoc.
- Keep your audience in mind at all times.
- Post content that is interesting and relevant.
- Post consistently to drive more engagement.
- Research times and post at times your audience is more likely to engage.
- Post content relevant for the social network. What works on Facebook might not necessarily be Twitter-worthy.
2. Make Engagement A Priority
When done well, social media will bring you leads but social isn’t about the sell. The key to good SMM is in being social of course and this is something many businesses still fail to realise. When you look at your Facebook page or Twitter account as yet another sales channel, you have stumbled over yet another pitfall.
Your audience is on social media to interact with you and to socialise with you. If you treat this an opportunity for a one way broadcast, your audience will quickly disappear and your broadcasts will remain unseen. But when you start posting content your audience is interested in, they will interact with you and expose your brand to their friends, who could be your potential customers too. Social media is at least 80 percent give and 20 percent take - be sure not to get them mixed up.
3. Acquire Targeted Followers
Acquiring masses of social media followers is something many businesses seem to obsess over. But if you’re after big numbers alone, you’re doing it wrong. Your focus should instead be on acquiring a targeted audience i.e. an audience that is genuinely interested in your product / your company. This audience will interact with you and the engagement will help you boost your social presence. You are better off having a 1000 fans of which 500 interact with you regularly than having 5000 fans of which only 500 interact with you. Focus on engaging your genuine audience and social media success will follow.
Social is powerful and businesses of all shapes and sizes are seeing great results from it. Simply setting up shop on social media and waiting for the customers to come isn’t enough. Instead, think about your customers as people and focus on building an engaging community on social media and your brand will thrive. You will start seeing tangible results for your hard work if you do social the right way.
About The Author
Matt Thomson is the founder of Connect Social Media, a digital agency focused on growing small businesses with the power of social media. Connect Social Media offer both a paid management service and free online DIY education. Download their free 'Just Do It' social media guide to learn how you can grow your business with social media marketing. You can contact Matt on Twitter and Facebook.
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