It’s readily-accessible, cost-effective, and enables us to communicate to broad numbers of clients and prospects in real time. So why do both small business owners and large corporations struggle to generate traction with their social media?
Social media is simple to use, but deceptively complex when used as part of a business strategy. If you’re one of millions of business owners banging your head against the computer screen wondering why your social media efforts aren’t being rewarded, this could be why.
1. You don’t have a social media strategy.
A social media strategy sets the framework for your social media marketing. It enables you to make educated decisions about:
- Why to post
- Where to post
- What to post
- How frequently to post, and
- Who to post to.
I’ve been developing social media strategies that look at everything from my client’s business objectives and audience through to their communication tactics, content strategy and communication management (and everything in between!). Too many businesses create a profile and start posting madly but, without a strategy in place, don’t know who they are posting to, or even why. If this is you, how do you become relevant? Post proactively, instead of reactively? Leverage local, national or industry events to your benefit? Newsjack to ensure relevance and create engagement? Effectively respond to trolls, who feed off inexperienced or under-prepared social media managers?
2. You don’t have a content plan.
Anyone can set up a profile and start posting, but it’s not sustainable – your engagement needs to have a strategy and a purpose driving your content. So stop for a minute – what are your business objectives and value proposition? And how can your social media efforts support those objectives? I see a lot of businesses offering social media management but the content they provide is often haphazard. They merely Google a whole lot of information, schedule it to post on behalf of their client, and invoice. A solid content plan that looks at not only the content you post but also:
- the time you post
- expiration dates
- relevant imagery and links
- engagement strategies, and
- the forum on which you post it in,
will have a far greater impact on your business.
3. You post about yourself – constantly.
4. You’re using an automatic feed to post to multiple channels.
We tend to speak of social media as a one-size-fits-all marketing solution but each network is, in fact, its own community. And while there are tools that facilitate automatic feeds to numerous forums from the one post, social bombardment doesn’t generate results. Why? Re-hashing your Instagram posts to Facebook or vice-versa, or populating your Twitter feed via Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, ignores the fact that every social media platform and forum is different. Not only do you have different audiences on each channel, but they also have their own set of rules and best practices. Your social media content and conversations need to be tailored to meet the requirements of not only your audience and objective, but also the forum in which you are conversing.
5. You rely on a scheduling tool.
Scheduling tools can be fantastic when used well, but a nightmare if you have a ‘set and forget’ mentality. The biggest mistake with these tools is engagement – because you may be scheduling a week’s worth of posts in advance, it’s easy to overlook monitoring the posts. Social media relies on conversations and, if you schedule but don’t respond to any questions or replies, your social media ceases to be ‘social’. Without engagement, fans/followers quickly lose interest. And because social media is often driven by trends, scheduling means that you can miss the boat completely!
Another reason to ditch the scheduling is trolls – these unsavoury critters get their rocks off from posting inflammatory, argumentative messages and comments to deliberately provoke others into an emotional response. And if you aren’t there to monitor discussions, things can get ugly – unnerving your followers and doing untold damage to your brand.
Interestingly, a number of fellow copywriters have come to the same conclusion with testing and measuring social media – scheduled posts consistently receive less engagement than real-time posts. How do we know this? Well…
6. You don’t utilise reporting feedback to your advantage.
There are all kinds of myths such as ‘you get the greatest response time 11am and at 3pm’ (fantastic if your audience is school children!). The reality is that the makeup of every audience is different and their engagement habits are, too. Reporting information varies between channels, but sites such as Facebook consistently provide detailed information that you can use to your advantage.
- Do you get a greater engagement when you ask questions?
- How does your audience respond to imagery?
- How do you maximise your click-through rate?
- What are your fan’s content preferences?
- What kind of posts generate the most shares?
Like all forms of marketing, you need to test and measure. So take some time to check out your stats – you’ll find the insight worthwhile!
7. You’re ‘fan’ greedy.
Yup – it’s a great ego boost, but more is not always better. More fans don’t equal better reach – they can actually limit it. If you have ‘junk fans’ that come from click farms (paid ‘likes’), then algorithms such as Facebook’s EdgeRank will damage your content visibility.
And more communities don’t guarantee better results. If you are communicating on auto pilot to multiple channels, or desperately trying to create and manage conversations in multiple platforms, the volume of your results won’t necessarily translate. A higher engagement will come from being more selective on both your posts and your communication forums.
The secret to social media success?
Lose the ego and make it about your clients and prospects. Social media is very much about what you can contribute, not what you can gain.
As copyblogger articulated so beautifully, it’s not our job to tell our audience where we live. It’s to grow communities where they live.
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