More and more companies are realizing the potential social media marketing has for their businesses. Whether you are just getting started using social media for your brand or are well versed in the space, it can be hard to determine which steps will lead to measureable results, and everyone will make mistakes. Especially in a space like social media marketing, a “one size fits all” approach is all but non-existent. The social media marketing world can be difficult to navigate, but here are 12 mistakes you don’t have to make on your journey to success.
1. Not setting clear objectives
If social media isn’t working for you, reevaluate your goals. Defining clear, realistic objectives will help you keep your eye on the prize and post with purpose.
2. Buying followers
Social media marketing isn’t solely about likes and favorites. To be taken seriously as a business, you need to build relationships with your customers and generate leads to see real ROI and results. Consumers are tech savvy and can tell when your follower-to-engagement ratio seems off. Social media channels are a first line of contact between your customers and your brand, and we are wired to avoid brands we don’t trust. Besides creating a horrible first impression, the smoke and mirrors of buying followers is a waste if you aren’t getting your audience to interact with your posts. If you did buy followers, don’t wonder why your messages aren’t getting shared or your links get no clicks. It’s always best to build an audience the right way.
3. Posting overly promotional content
Let’s say you go on a date and the person only speaks about him or herself. Quite the turn off, right? The same applies to your social media audience. Social media is all about building relationships, and successful relationships are rarely one-sided. Your audience wants to know you have more to offer than pushy sales messaging or a product. Modern social media is about adding value to your followers’ lives. Try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent non-promotional content and 20 percent posts with calls to action.
4. Posting irrelevant content for engagement
This includes three components: posting irrelevant content, hopping onto trending topics that have nothing to do with your brand, and using a trending hashtag without research. Irrelevant content (like posting a cute kitty for the sake of getting likes) will only hurt your brand. You run the risk of building a following that isn’t interested in your product or service. For the most part, keep content relevant.
5. Not researching hashtags or trending topics
Research all trending topics and hashtags before putting your spin on either. Find out as much as you can about the conversations happening around the topic or hashtag to avoid any sticky situations with sensitive subjects.
6. Not using visual content
Visuals are a very big deal. In fact, posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts. Try incorporating different kinds of visual content such as photos, videos, and, GIFs into your social media marketing and messaging. Another no-no? Using low-quality images. There are tons of free image resources such as Unsplash.com and Canva.com that help brands source and create images.
7. Leaving social profiles incomplete
Your profile allows you to convey what you do and who you are in the few precious moments you have to capture a visitor’s attention. Since social profiles and content now rank in search, it is important to fill these in. Make sure to complete as much of your biography or “about” section as possible, and include a link to your website or landing page. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun and show your brand’s personality. Include keyword hashtags on Twitter and use high-quality header and profile images.
8. Lacking a strategy or content plan
“Victory loves preparation” and “consistency is key”: keep both of these phrases in mind when it comes to your social media marketing. Haphazardly posting every once in a blue moon does not equate to instant sales, traffic, or interaction. A general strategy and a good content plan helps brands stay consistent, keep on track with posts, build buzz, maximize results around campaigns or events, maintain audience interest, and attract new eyes to their account. Post at least two times a week to keep increasing growth.
9. Not responding to comments/complaints
Getting into arguments with trolls doesn’t look great for your brand, but ignoring legitimate complaints, questions, or concerns is a major mistake. Take the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade and show customers you care by responding to social media inquiries. If a response is too involved for a platform, swiftly take the matter offline by asking the commenter to email you; then take it from there. Others will see that you took action and feel reassured that if anything goes awry, your company cares and will take the appropriate measures to correct it. Talk about building trust!
10. Not knowing the rules of specific networks
Learn how people interact on each network and use those elements in your own posts. For example, hashtags are searchable and clickable on Twitter, yet they do nothing on LinkedIn, so it’s a good idea to adjust captions when cross posting. Ignoring the communication rules of a network could make your messages look automated and inauthentic, which can turn off potential followers.
11. Not analyzing anything
Analytics is one of the most important facets of social media marketing. If you don’t measure, you won’t know if you’ve reached your goals or if your initiatives worked. Analyzing your audience, content, and posting time are a few important metrics that can help dictate changes in your social media strategy. Use built-in tools such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, third-party tools, and measurement of social traffic and conversion with Google Analytics. Remember to use your numbers to set benchmarks.
12. Using too many or too few hashtags
Avoid getting hashtag happy. Engagement gets dragged down if you use too many hashtags in your captions. Users find captions with too many hashtags difficult to read and often ignore them. On the other hand, not using hashtags prevents users from seeing your posts when they search for specific content. Stick to one to three relevant hashtags per post on Twitter and use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. The verdict is still out on whether hashtags on Facebook get more action but you can use up to 11 on that social network.
Building an engaged, organic community takes time and effort. Social media marketing is about building long-term relationships with your audience of potential consumers, creating connections beyond a simple “like” or “follow.” You will make mistakes along the way. Some may help and some may hurt, but being aware of the most common mistakes can help you navigate social media marketing like a pro.