When social networking sites were first introduced on the Internet, people found a very convenient venue to keep in touch with friends and family regardless of the distance between them. Soon enough, sites like Facebook and Twitter became two of the most widely-visited online platforms all over the world. In time, sites like LinkedIn where you get the opportunity to interact with colleagues and like-minded professionals also gained popularity.
With these developments, business owners realized they needed to build a strong social media presence in order to keep up with times and further strengthen their overall online presence. Having a strong social media presence helps increase brand awareness considerably, and as you well know, increased brand awareness means there’s a better chance of more people being open to consider spending money on your products/services.
Note, however, that if you try to build social media presence the wrong way, not only will your brand largely be ignored, but your business will also miss out on opportunities to build valuable relationships with your target audience and you likely won’t see the kind of results you expect from your social media marketing (SMM) efforts. Here are seven of the SMM sins you should avoid if you truly want to build the kind of social media presence that’ll get your business where you want it to go:
- Talking Too Much
Of course you need to talk about the value your brand has to offer. You need to provide your audience with valuable information to keep them interested. But this doesn’t mean you have to do all the talking. Always remember that the purpose of social media is to interact with others; to engage them in conversation. And conversation requires an exchange of opinions, which you can’t just do all the talking; you also have to listen sometimes.
Another important reminder is that social media is more about showing, rather than telling. Most people prefer posts that come with visual content over those that are pure text. Take Twitter posts, for example. Simply by tweeting with image links, you get an engagement rate that’s up to 200% higher than the engagement rate for pure text tweets. SMM is a world where a picture truly can be worth a thousand words.
- Too Much Sales Pitch
People aren’t on social media to read sales pitches all day. That is something you need to bear in mind. In fact, many of those who spend a lot of time on social platforms do so to tune out traditional advertising gimmicks. Talking about your products/services all the time and trying to promote your brand with every post is therefore akin to committing SMM suicide. Remember that if your social media audience gets tired of the constant sales pitch, it’s very easy for them to forget about you with a single click of the “unfollow” button.
Instead of doing the sales pitch all the time, you should strive to connect with your audience and build a lasting relationship with them. Talk about their interests, discuss topics they’ve shown interest in that are related to the products/services you offer, and address any questions they may have about your niche or industry. This sends out the message that you care about what they need, and not just about what you want for your business.
- Failure to Think before You Tweet
It can be difficult for a brand to stay relevant in the world of social media, where topics can go from being the most talked about to becoming completely forgotten in the blink of an eye. This is why most brands don’t even bother trying to create buzz from scratch. Rather, they ride on the popularity on a current hot topic to put the spotlight on their content. This is why you’re likely to see the best and the worst tweets during the Super Bowl and Oscars seasons.
While it is indeed a good idea to take advantage of hot topics to earn more brand awareness, you have to be very careful in doing so. There have been many cases where even brands that were already popular landed in hot water simply because they failed to think their tweets through before posting them. Thinking before you tweet is especially important if you’re making a reference to a current tragedy in your tweet. Remember what happened to Gap during Hurricane Sandy? Do NOT make the same mistake they did.
Twitter can indeed be an excellent tool for piggybacking on popular topics to increase awareness of your brand, but you have to use it right. Flickr.com photo by Coletivo Mambembe
- Failure to Deliver on Your Promise
It is normal for brands to make promises. After all, you rely in large part on your promises to grab the attention of your target audience and get them to follow you on social media and subscribe to your social channels. This isn’t really a problem. It only becomes one if you fail to deliver on those promises. The moment your followers and subscribers realize you do not deliver on your promises, they can easily leave.
What could be even worse than your followers and subscribers leaving is them telling others not to patronize your brand. Surely this is something you’d want to avoid, and in order to do so, you have to make only those promises you’re sure you can fulfill. If you can deliver more than what you promised, then that would be even better.
- Neglecting Your Audience
There are several ways you may be neglecting your audience, even without meaning to. Perhaps you’ve forgotten to post on your social media pages for more than a week. Perhaps you fail to answer questions posted on the comments section of your social pages. Perhaps you chose to ignore one or two serious complaints in hopes of simply letting them die down. Any of these things can cause followers to stop following you and even tell others to avoid your brand as well.
You need to post on your social media pages at least once each week to avoid making them look outdated and giving your brand a reputation for not being up-to-date. And while it’s not really necessary to respond to every single comment posted on your social pages, you do have to answer specific questions and respond appropriately to complaints. This is one of the best ways for you to build a positive reputation in the world of social media.
- Adopting a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Social platforms are NOT created equal. You need to bear this in mind in order to create an effective social media strategy. For B2B marketing, for example, it’s best to focus your efforts on sites like LinkedIn whereas popular general sites like Facebook and Twitter are often excellent options for B2C marketing.
The style, substance, and pacing of your social media content should also vary according to the audience you’re targeting and the platforms you use. Observe the behaviors of your target audience on each platform you plan to use and then tailor your approach accordingly. A 2000-word blog entry, for example, could be broken down into micro-content pieces for posting on your Twitter account and Facebook page. Always make sure the medium and the message blend well.
- Forgetting to Be Human
Online users are bombarded with advertisements of all kinds on a daily basis. You have to set your brand apart by giving it a personality of its own. This requires you to do away with automated responses and corporate jargon, which are usually deemed major turn-offs. Rather, you should just let your brand’s personality shine through so people who are looking for what you have to offer won’t think twice about welcoming you and becoming loyal patrons.
When you embark on your SMM campaign, be sure to focus more on building relationships instead of amassing a huge number of followers and subscribers. Make sure each piece of content you post truly encourages conversation among your audience as well as between them and you. If you approach social media in the right way, the numbers are sure to follow soon enough.
If you’ve already started on your SMM campaign and aren’t getting the results you expect, now may be the best time to step back and take stock. Assess your SMM strategies and see if they’re properly aligned with the needs of your target audience. If they don’t, and if you find that you’re too focused on the traditional “push” marketing approach, then you definitely should make some changes.
This is a time when the customer truly is in control. Customers expect you to know exactly when, where, and how to connect with them in the world of social media. Unless you realize this and act accordingly, your brand will most likely be left behind. You may have a unique roadmap for achieving social media success, but like any other business, you should strive to avoid the seven social media sins discussed above.
It is, of course, not very realistic to assume you won’t run into any potholes in your effort to build a strong social media presence, but it certainly pays to avoid those huge potholes companies often find almost impossible to climb out of.