Social media presents a useful and viable tool for a business to build their brand and increase their visibility. In fact, it’s getting to the point where you’re probably going to be at a disadvantage if you don’t have at least some form of an online presence through these mediums.
While online marketing spans a wide range of topics, social media has quickly become the primary vehicle through which businesses and their websites increase traffic, reach potential clients and develop their brand. When done right, it’s quite possibly the single-most useful tool at the disposal of today’s website admin and/or small business owner.
At the same time, social media can present some major pitfalls to businesses and social media marketers who don’t use it properly.
As with most marketing tools, there comes a point where you can either be engaging too much or too little, therefore, there needs to be a continuous balance of great content, social engagement and even “radio silence” at the appropriate times.
Social media shouldn’t be viewed as a silver bullet in that if you just use it in mass, it will give you positive results. Instead, use needs to be carefully planned and well-executed, just like any other marketing strategy.
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In short, while you don’t want to blast your followers with information, you also don’t want to abandon your online presence altogether. There’s a balance to strike, which can take a lot of work and a lot of effort to find and maintain.
Likewise, you need to be sure that when you’re using social media, you’re not taking the “social” out of it and constantly using it to market only your products or services.
Social media marketing is a big job, so it’s understandable that some people don’t get it right in the very beginning.
Here are a few mistakes to avoid when engaging your audience with social media:
1. Incomplete profiles
Unfinished profiles are actually pretty typical among business social media accounts. Part of the reason is that businesses are often too small to have staff dedicated entirely to social media, which means profiles get halfway established and left as-is.
A good way to avoid this is to plan out which social media platforms you want to use, set them up, and stick with them moving forward.
Not all social media platforms have a positive outlook moving forward, so it’s true that you can have some that are trending, while others are on the decline. The most notable example would be Myspace, but some would say that Twitter is following a similar path, having met its peak and is now declining.
With this in mind, you’ll want to target accounts that haven’t yet peaked, but are still on the rise. Good examples in 2013 and moving forward include Google+ and Pinterest, both of which have fairly high-stock and have yet to reach their full potential.
Focus on the high-stock accounts and make sure your profiles are complete.
2. Only talking about their “stuff”
A business that only publishes social media content related to the products and services that they sell will quickly wear down their followers, causing them to lose interest, and even unlike or unfollow their pages.
The content that you produce and promote on your social media pages can certainly include your own products and services, but it should maintain a balance by a fairly high percentage of personal and “value-adding” content as well. Focus on posting things that entertain, inform and/or help your followers without always directly trying to sell them something.
The more people see an influx of genuinely helpful and/or personal content, the more interested they’ll be in your products and services, as they’ll be operating under the assumption of, “If their free stuff is super helpful, then what you buy from them is probably even more helpful.”
It’s all a balancing act, so make sure you take the time to bring both sides to the table.
3. Too much automation
If it can be avoided, automation with your social media accounts is never really a good idea, unless you’re just using something like Hootsuite to schedule posts.
Make sure that whatever you do stays personal, because people will be able to detect automation pretty easily, and it’s a major turn-off when it comes to actual engagement, which is what you’re after to begin with.
A good first step to avoid this trap is to not use tools that mimic posts across several accounts. For example, don’t send your tweets directly to your Facebook account. Facebook posts are a different animal, and what works on Twitter will not necessarily work there as well.
Take the time to craft unique posts for different pages.
4. Unfocused message
You can have a lot of content, but if it can’t be grouped together in a functional manner, you run the risk of going off-message and losing some of your credibility.
Having a consistent message is tough, especially when you’re trying to avoid being too predictable or repetitive at the same time. It’s certainly a fine line to walk, but the best way to walk it is by making sure that everything you publish either enhances your personal relatability, or gives people a connection to your business’s goals and mission statement.
The Many Fine Lines
A good social media campaign is always a balancing act and those who do it well are able to walk several fine lines at once. Unfortunately, there’s no “easy” answer, as everyone’s situation is different and will therefore require a unique approach when it comes to avoiding these mistakes.
Overall, focus on both valuable content and a good marketing strategy for your business’ products and service. At some point, you’ll be able to mix the two together as you build trust among your followers and customers.