Social Media is the area of marketing that every company feels they need to be involved in, but few are using to the fullest advantage. A social media strategy is essential before embarking on any activity. Here are some of the common social marketing mistakes by businesses:
1. Jumping on the bandwagon
“We must have a presence on Facebook and Twitter!” is a statement that must be banded around boardrooms and marketing departments up and down the country, judging by the volume of Facebook pages and Twitter feeds that are limping along aimlessly.
Once upon a time it was simple – there was MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited. Now alongside the mighty Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter we have a host of newcomers and specialist social media platforms. With this proliferation in social media sites it is difficult for any organization to work out which networks are right for them. Perhaps that is why Facebook and Twitter are the first port of call for organizations to ‘get on social media’, or perhaps there is little awareness of the range available.
The right choice of network will depend primarily on your marketing objectives and target market, so Facebook and Twitter may not be the answer, my friends.
2. Incomplete profiles
After setting up a social media presence the first thing that any company should do is optimise it. Make use of all the features, both obvious and hidden. Use images where slots exist, include links to your website and other social media networks, and think about what your profile says about you (via image, language used and tone of voice).
Once that is complete, great, but what about your overall digital presence? If your customers google your company or your products, what do they find? What information can prospective clients find out about your service via third party sources? A social media strategy fits within a wider digital strategy, and that in turn is part of the overall marketing strategy for your organisation. Colour in the full picture rather than just one corner of it.
3. Misjudged time investment
Typically the biggest investment in delivering a social media strategy is time. What level of manpower and expertise do you have in-house to deliver an ongoing input into social media networking?
Gary Lineker recently gave up Twitter as it was becoming too time consuming and ‘was taking over his life’ (He returned just 8 days later, which is evidence of how addictive social media can be).
Will you attempt to reply personally to every re-tweet or follow? Is that a sustainable approach as your follower base grows?
From the outset be clear as to how much resource you want to put into social media marketing, and monitor it. If there is a valid business reason to increase that later, great, but don’t let it take over to the detriment of other business activity.
4. Loss of direction
I’m sure you have all seen it happen… a company starts off with the best of intentions and then next time you look they are tweeting/updating about the weather, or what a nice cup of tea they are having. The latter is relevant if you are The Tetley Tea Folk (check them out they are on Twitter and Facebook) but for most organisations that is a good indication that you have lost your way with social media. The pressure to update a certain number of times a day/week can lead people to post drivvel rather than updates that add real value to the organisation.
Consider the reputational impact of your updates – what impression will prospective and current customers gain of your organisation? Will it enhance or dilute all the good work your marketing team is doing via other channels?
If your organisation is posting up images of the staff Christmas party to the company facebook page then that is another sign that you need to reconsider your social media objectives. Take some time to consider what you are trying to achieve with social activity. What level and type of interaction are you seeking, and with whom? What is your content plan and how do you intend to deliver it?
5. Lack of evaluation
So your organisation is using social media as part of the marketing mix – job done?
Like all marketing activity there should be regular monitoring, evaluation and re-focussing. Does your organisation make use of the free tracking tools that most networks supply? How do you know if you are meeting your objectives? Do you have a test plan and how do you measure whether tests have been successful or not? What worked six months ago may not continue to be the best approach. The digital landscape is changing rapidly, and your organisation needs to keep evolving to stay relevant.
If you feel that your current social media channels aren’t working for your organisation or could be working harder, then the time is right to take a fresh look at your social media approach. It may be time for a new strategy and processes to make the most of the opportunity social media marketing presents.