One thing is for sure: social media is always changing. For businesses without a dedicated staff member, it can be difficult to keep up – leading to social media mistakes that negatively affect your relationship with key audience members.
But the truth is…social is worth it. Why? Because you have the opportunity to meet and engage with your customers naturally, helping to build loyalty and trust for your brand.
These interactions, however, must be handled with tact, efficiency, and with your target audience in mind at all times.
Top 5 Social Media Mistakes [updated 2018]
1) Poor Strategy
As is the case when it comes to marketing, strategy counts. This involves setting specific goals, knowing your audience, and tailoring your messages to each specific platform.
Having a weak or non-existent social media strategy will only hurt your chances of seeing results. This is the most common social media mistake that we regularly encounter.
Start with specific goals
What is your business looking to accomplish through social media? Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Want to drive traffic to your website? Trying to generate qualified leads?
Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing on social will not only help keep your messaging and tactics aligned, but it also helps your audience follow along.
Many brands skip this crucial step, and they pay for it in wasted time and effort. Setting simple, practical, and measurable goals will help you achieve greater results.
Don’t ignore your audience
Your target audience is on social somewhere. Taking the time to learn who your audience is and where they hang out is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach them.
Paying attention to your audience also helps you identify brand advocates. These people are loyal engagement drivers and great resources for psychographic data (aka what makes your audience tick).
The better you understand how to approach your audience, the easier it is to start conversations with them. Many small businesses miss this foundational piece of social media marketing.
Understand each platform’s best-use
Not only will user demographics change from platform to platform, but each social channel offers unique functionality that appeals to certain groups of people over others.
But what you do with this information is what counts. It’s important to learn how each of your social profiles can be leveraged to support your organizational goals.
Further Reading: Building Buzz with Integrated Marketing – A Case Study
This may involve some experimentation, but marketers who understand the best tactics to use to engage their audience members will be the most successful. This leads us to our next point…
2) Wrong Social Platforms
We often hear business owners/managers say, “We tried social media but didn’t see any results.” Does that mean that social media isn’t right for your business? The answer is almost always no.
Just as we stated in mistake number one, there are several necessary factors to social media success. If any of them fall out of balance, you may not get the results you had hoped for.
Choosing the right platforms for your business/organization should always be backed by data that proves your audience has a strong presence there. By doing this, you’ll avoid common pitfalls that plague marketers’ social potential.
The “because it’s cool” trap
We’ve been guilty of chasing a shiny, new platform on occasion, but we’re working on it. You should too. Just because a new app or social network exists, doesn’t mean your audience is using it or that it’s a good option for your business.
Please heed our warning: don’t fall for a platform just because it’s new. It may promise to be the “next Facebook” (remember Google+?) but we’ve yet to see the jolly blue giant tumble from its ivory tower.
Instead, test the new platform by creating a personal profile to better understand functionality and user engagement before diving in. And as always…ensure it fits seamlessly into your overall strategy.
The “all in” approach
This was the norm in the early days of social media marketing. Just sign up for everything! But this “spaghetti at the wall” method no longer has any place in your strategy.
The reason? It’s not actually a strategy at all. Once a platform fails to bear fruit, we find that most marketers simply stop paying attention to it. Leaving a platform abandoned creates a loose end that results in poor impressions by those who come across it.
Instead, be choosy. And if there is a social channel that’s long gone – either delete it or automate some content to publish on it regularly. This will help prevent it from becoming a total ghost town.
3) Lack of Quality, Engaging Content
Content is everything. It’s the fuel that keeps your marketing flames churning. Without quality content and great supporting visuals, you’re going to struggle on social media.
We’re not bluffing. Content has been proven to receive 94% more views if it contains a visual element. That’s an overwhelming argument in favor of strong photography and video content.
Without research, you’re guessing
If content is the fuel, keyword research is your experienced camping buddy who knows oak logs burn better than hemlock. We bet that’s news to most of you, but we know it’s true because we did our due diligence….as should you.
This common social media mistake occurs because we’re human, and we fall into the trap of thinking we know what interests people about our businesses. The truth is, we’re often too close to the picture, and keyword research gives us a more accurate perspective.
Allowing data (such as cost-per-click, search volume, and competition ranking) to guide your content creation helps you learn not only what your audience is interested in but the terminology they use when searching for it.
Visual assets, anyone?
Connecting your audience to your content is most quickly and effectively accomplished through the use of visual media. This could take the form of a photo, video, infographic, story, or .gif.
Regardless of the format you decide works best within your own budget and time restraints, this is worth the investment. After all, you can leverage great photography in nearly every aspect of your marketing mix – from outdoor advertising to print materials to your website.
4) Automation Overload
One of the newest trends is also one of the most common social media mistakes we’ve encountered. The name of this game is automated posting, automatic responders, and chatbots. The success/failure of these tools boils down to one word: execution.
On the surface, social media automation makes a lot of sense and can be very effective when used correctly. It saves time and resources, it allows you to schedule posts in advance, and it helps you maintain a greater level of post consistency.
This all sounds great a busy marketer, right? It certainly does, however, there are several cons to watch out for that come along with the pros.
Loss of brand personality
The easiest snare to catch yourself on when automating your social posts is to become too robotic, which results in a drained brand personality. Your business culture is one of your most potent social assets because of its ability to fill gaps between selling messages in a fun and personal way.
Try to avoid becoming mechanical (and eventually boring) by including spontaneous and “in-the-moment” content on social. This will keep your audience’s attention.
The other difficult piece of social media automation comes in the form of messenger chatbots. Like everything, there is a good, bad, and ugly with chatbots. Many marketers are seeing significant returns from users willing to make direct purchasing decisions with these automated social tools.
On the other side of the coin, about 73% of social users have claimed to never use one again if they have a single, negative experience with a chatbot. This is a great risk and makes your execution of promotional messaging absolutely critical. Make sure to keep chatbots as conversational as possible to prevent a social faux pa.
The same goes for automatic responders that answer customer inquiries through your social messaging platforms. When using responders, make sure you have someone designated to field questions, comments, and concerns in a timely manner.
If an inquiry that needs a human response receives no attention, the customer will naturally conclude you don’t care – even if that’s not the case. Staying on top of your social messaging will keep your customers feeling heard and your service level high.
All that said about automation, a lack of structure and consistency can also cost you big on social. Common mistakes we’ve seen are multiple brand voices, styles, and types of post deliveries.
Slipping in & out of brand voice
Brand voice…what’s that? This crucial aspect of your marketing notes how you relate to your audience. One of the best ways to establish your business/organization’s brand voice is to know your audience really well.
Once you develop a brand persona that reflects your ideal customer, you can relay your selling messages in a way that appeals to them. This is easier said than done, but you’ll be far more effective in your marketing efforts once a persona is in use.
Sharing your buyer person team-wide will help maintain a consistent brand voice for your company and allows your employees to speak the language of your customers.
This ensures a consistent communication style is used no matter who crafts a social post or fields a phone call. Ditch the off-brand audience interactions…who need ‘em?
Random posts at random times
With audience insights becoming better and more available across social platforms from LinkedIn to Pinterest, knowing the best times to post has never been easier. Like we stated above, different social channels have different audience demographics, and therefore, different peak post days and times.
Use this data to your advantage, and plant your posts in front of as many eyes as possible. Although Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn have switched to more algorithm-based feeds, post times still play an important role.
Scrolling feed algorithms give more weight to posts with high engagement (comments, shares, etc.). Make a great initial impression, and your post will continue to grow in visibility over the its lifespan.
Guilty of These Social Media Mistakes?
Don’t worry – we are too. Some aspects of marketing – especially those that are constantly evolving – require some trial and error to determine what works best.
By learning and understanding the top mistakes marketers make on social, you’re already a step ahead of your competitors that continue to fall into the same traps time and time again.
We’ll leave you with a piece of advice: be sure to stay informed on the state of social media marketing. Things can change rapidly, and it’s important to be able to adapt in-turn to stay relevant for your audience members.
At Signalfire, our creative marketing guides and outfitters have experience helping businesses and organizations develop their brand personas to better engage their social audiences.
If you could use a creative partner throughout the process, feel free to reach out online or give us a call today at 262-725-4500.