Operating your company’s social media marketing is much like taking a road trip. There are things you need to plan for, checklists to create and ensuring your vehicle (read: strategy) is in working order. These are all primary steps in a road trip. Social media marketing works much the same way - but you’d be surprised how many small and mid- sized companies have got it all wrong. We asked members (many social media and PR experts) of various UK LinkedIn groups and according to them these are the top social media mistakes that businesses make:
- Not having a strategy
As with a road trip, not having a proper strategy is going to lead to empty tanks or flat tyres. You wouldn’t start your road trip without checking fuel and air pressure, would you? Similarly, successful social media marketing requires a very clear strategy or objective that consists of the following:
- A social media objectives plan that is integrated with your sales and marketing activities
- Determining a clear audience/market to target
- A clear mechanism for calculating ROI
- Consistent posting with the objective of ‘engaging’ as opposed to ‘broadcasting’
It’s one thing to have a strategy and a plan; it’s an entirely different thing to execute it. You will need to know exactly what daily activities you need to accomplish to execute your social media marketing strategy and a commitment to actually do it!
In the same vein as strategy, a thing we need to be on the watch out for is the ‘shattered glass’ approach to social media. These three areas: fractured conversations, inconsistent appearances and isolated engagement have been conclusively covered by Clare Price, a B2B marketing specialist from California, in her blog.
- Not being on the right platform
A lot of businesses try to be on every platform and therefore overstretch themselves. Whilst it is important to register company names on each platform - in order to protect the brand - there needs to be some consideration as to which platforms are going to work best for your business.
Should you devote your time to LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter? Is Pinterest a useful medium for you? Do you have a bricks and mortar site and therefore might want to use FourSquare to encourage people to check in and get offers? What about Vine or Instragram? Are you a B2B business? Then you're probably going to do well on LinkedIn. And if you are marketing to teens, you should probably try Facebook or Instagram. Maintaining social media accounts take time and energy. It’s not wise to be everywhere. Businesses need to know where their current and potential customers are to focus the right efforts.
- Thinking of Sales and Marketing as the same thing
Sales and Marketing complement each other but are definitely not the same thing. Marketing is the business of promoting your product or service and connecting with your clients. It’s a tool to get your buyer’s attention. I have seen a lot of obvious selling which I feel is a turn off. Your audience is all for raising awareness and soft pitches but a hard, obvious sell I feel is a mistake.
- Uncertainty about how to determine ROI
There is clearly a need for sharing and learning more about social media marketing and its ROI. A good first step would be to transfer your familiarity with email marketing to social media marketing. But to take things on the next level you need to deeply analyse social media and its ROI. It’s very easy to jump in and start counting how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers you have. You could go get more advanced by measuring Likes, re-tweets and social mentions. Despite the fact that these are good social components to track, a goal-based approach would help you better understand the result of your social media marketing activities.
There is no sure way to measure the ROI of your social media efforts; however, the ROI should be directly linked to the goal of your social media presence and messages. Allied to the point above, the goal of social media marketing is to strengthen your brands and acquire contacts.
- Broadcasting as opposed to engaging
One of the biggest social media mistakes is broadcasting, rather than engaging, with your target audience. A lot of 'posting' isn't necessarily going to achieve very much at all - just noise. It needs to be done in the context of proper campaign planning and a lead generation strategy.
These are the first five social media mistakes that small business make. Some are plain and simple to see while the others might not seem so straightforward. To find out the rest, stay tuned for part 2 and part 3.