Social media is common place in most marketing strategies these days and it’s no wonder why when companies claim that visitors to a website are statistically more likely to convert when visiting from a social networking site.
The appeal of social media is great! A profile costs nothing to set up in monetary terms and paired with the sheer number of users on these sites, companies can follow their target audiences into the online social world. So far many have used it well enough to start reaping some very significant benefits.
However by getting involved in social media, many companies have made some drastic mistakes and it’s up to us to learn from this and take on board what NOT to do when using social media. This post is a list of tips to prevent you from making the same mistakes, as the unfortunate few (in no particular order):
Mistake #1 – Not having clear objectives
You know you want to use Social Media and where you want to set up your business profiles, so you dive right in and get set up… now what?
Well, as with most areas of business, planning what you want to achieve from the offset is the only way you can effectively use social media. Think about your businesses overall goals and objectives and your current marketing strategy… How can Social Media fit into this?
When setting your Social Media objectives, make sure they are ‘S.M.A.R.T.’: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based. This will help really focus why you are embracing Social Media.
Mistake #2 – Not setting KPIs
How can you tell if your social media efforts are working effectively based on your original objectives? You must clearly identify and monitor the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). As with objectives, set these before you embark on your social media journey otherwise you will never be able to measure if what you’re doing is working.
Social Media KPIs can include things like: Inbound site traffic from social sites, the number of fans/followers, the number of links shared by fans/followers, the number of user engagements (like’s, comments, RTs etc), a reduction in customer complaints, an increase in the number of enquiries, the number of leads generated, the number of business partnerships gained and so on.
Mistake #3 – Not spending enough time on building relationships
If you’re using Social Media please make sure you commit to it and spend time building relationships with your audience, engaging with them on a regular basis. The more time you spend building relationships, the greater your chances are of achieving your original objectives.
In a recent report the majority of businesses investing 6 to 10 hours per week in social media are likely to see improvements in their campaigns. The report confirms that the more time marketers spend on social media the bigger the benefits can be.
Mistake #4 – Shouting
This is when businesses and users only talk about themselves and don’t care what you have to say… It’s all about them!
Let’s think about the key word in Social Media for a second – ‘Social’. By its very definition, it means ‘interaction between humans’ so when companies use social media to only talk about themselves, it’s like being sat at work next to a loud mouthed employee, that keeps going on and on about how great they are and that everyone should think like them! Annoying right? But in the world of Social Media you have a very simple option, if you don’t want to listen any more you can simply ‘un-like’ or ‘un-follow’, et viola, no more annoying content – simple!
As a business you need to ensure that you are not shouting at your audience, people will simply switch off and stop listening all together. Engage with your fans and followers, give them interesting and exciting content (not necessarily always directly about your business), build ongoing relationships with them and listen to what they have to say… after all they are the people that are going to keep your business going.
Mistake #5 – Stream flooding & starving
Ah, this is one of my pet hates – Stream Flooding! It’s when you won’t hear anything from a business for a while and then all of a sudden you get an abundance of updates in the space of 5 minutes and your stream is completely flooded by their updates.
Instantly this says to me the business doesn’t care about using social media to engage with its users, it simply says they have a spare 5 minutes to jump online and pump out a list of shouty messages and that’s their ‘social media’ done… time to un-follow methinks!
The opposite to stream flooding, as you may have already guessed, is stream starving. This is when you hardly receive any updates or content from the business at all. This again suggests a similar thing to stream flooding, the business isn’t really committed to social media and doesn’t appear to have the time to care about its fans / followers.
I get frustrated by people being mislead by bad advice like “you MUST update your status at least 5 times a day, at the same time, each day”… Statistically, on the contrary! As Dan Zarrella explains, less is more when it comes to Facebook.
Ultimately there is no golden rule for all businesses to adhere to when it comes to updating users with content, as every business will be different. Over time you will begin to learn how much content is too much / little for your fans. By using built in reporting tools such as Facebook Insights and the imminent release of Twitter’s Analytics you can statistically identify your optimum engagement times and offer a steady stream of messages and interactions.
Mistake #6 – Expecting results overnight
Remember the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’?
You need to be patient when embracing Social Media, it can take months to build up your fan base… unless you’re Charlie Sheen, of course!
Think of it as you would when meeting new people and potential clients. You wouldn’t expect to sell something to them immediately after shaking their hand would you? So again, don’t expect to sell something immediately to your new-found fans online. Build relationships with them and court them just as you would offline, engage with your online communities to organically generate exposure, opportunities and sales… and always remember they are just one click away from leaving you!
Mistake #7 – Not promoting your social media presence
It’s a common phrase “social media isn’t really working for me” but when asked what they are doing to promote their presence the response is “Well, I’ve set up my profile and update it all the time, that’s it… isn’t it?” This is not what I would call ‘promoting your social media’ this is what I would call ‘setting up your social media’. To start building a fan base and to increase your exposure you need to incorporate your profiles into other channels too.
Here are just a few ways you can easily promote your social media presence:
- Include links / icons / widgets on your website
- Include links in the footer of your emails
- Include links in your signature on forums
- Add the links to all of your company stationary
- Include links on your printed media
- Email your database with a message specifically dedicated to the ‘launch’ of your social media profiles
- Paid ads on Social sites
- Paid Search Advertising
- Direct Mail pieces to existing clients
Remember: If you don’t tell people about it, how are they going to know?
Mistake #8 – Not listening
This is similar to mistake #4 – engaging in conversations online means you need to listen to what people have to say, be it good or bad.
For me, there are two types of not listening here. The first being you are hearing what is being said but you’re not actually listening. By ignoring what people are saying, you can indirectly spur on negative comments and before you know it, a couple of negative comments have now whipped up a frenzy of angry users fueling even more negative comments – at this point you have a serious problem on your hands.
The second type of not listening is when you are not even trying to hear what people are saying about you. The benefits of listening to your fans are far greater than not listening, for instance you can gain insights into what they actually want and not what you think they want.
There are many tools to help you listen. You can manually search on most sites and you can also use free tools such as Tweetdeck & Hootsuite to monitor tweets containing specific keywords or hashtags for Twitter. There are also tools like Social Mention and Trakur that allow you to save searches and receive email alerts of any mentions across all social media sites and blogs and many paid tools too such as Radian6.
Mistake #9 – Not thinking before you post
When engaging in conversations online you need to remember that what you say will remain online. Even if you delete it, the damage could have already been done! Posting inappropriate content like designer, Kenneth Cole did during the Egyptian Protests, could leave you very red faced and desperately needing to make a hearty apology…
But even with an apology, you may still face a bombardment from unhappy clients (now probably ex-clients):
Mistake #10 – Letting inexperienced or short-tempered staff handle your online presence
Nestle have famously made some of the biggest social media mistakes of all time. Their social media campaign went horribly wrong when Greenpeace made an online viral attack on the company, which was handled terribly. This (as bad as it already was) was made even worse by their representative in charge of their Facebook account. A conversation with its customers was handled more like a cocky teenage rather than a professional multi-million pound company – this is one of those ‘I can’t believe that just happened’ moments:
Mistake #11 – Not using the right tools
You could have the most amazing, engaging messages for people but if you’re talking in the wrong place, it’s a wasted opportunity. If you know your target audience is all based on LinkedIn, why waste your efforts setting up a Facebook page and trying to get everyone there? Go to where your audience already is and join in the conversation there. By all means set up profiles on other platforms too but really focus your time on the ones where you know people are engaged and you can get your message across.
Mistake #12 – Not reviewing / analyzing your social media strategy
By setting clear objectives and KPIs at the start of your social media strategy you are able to statistically review and analyse how well you’re performing later on. By doing this you can identify new opportunities and highlight things that are working well or not working as you’d originally hoped.
Optimising your strategy is a key part of progressing your business online and without reviewing and analyzing what you are currently doing, your social media presence can become stale, loose you money and eventually you could be left with a base of unengaged, unconnected and totally uninterested users – very sad!
Here are 4 simple steps that can help you optimize your Social Media Strategy: Test new ideas, Analyse the results, Refine the initial ideas, Repeat the process
So there you have it, a list of 12 social media mistakes to avoid. What do you think? From your experience are there any more mistakes that you can think of? Let us know by leaving a comment below.