Frustrated? Annoyed? Disappointed? Does the thought of social media make you want to shove your face in a bowl of hot gravy?
As a business owner, you likely recognize the marketing revolution brought on by social media, and you want to meet the needs of customers by extending the purchasing process beyond your brick-and-mortar.
Maybe you have a Facebook page and Twitter account, but after months of attention and effort you still think the benefits of social media are overstated.
Maybe you’ve experienced some benefits, but know your social campaigns could perform better if you had that extra something.
Whatever the case, if you’re frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, or want to shove your face in a bowl of hot gravy when you think about social media, fixing the common mistakes below could be your ticket to a truly social business.
Mistake #1: Your Office Assistant is Your Social Media Manager
Painting your bedroom and hanging a picture on the wall doesn’t make you an interior designer. Using the bathroom doesn’t make you a plumber.
Similarly, having a Facebook profile and Twitter account doesn’t make the office assistant at your small business a qualified marketer. A lot of bar and restaurant owners can relate to this point as well.
Be honest with yourself: Do you really believe your social media strategy is going to be effective in the hands of your part-time bartender or waitress?
If you try to cut corners with social media, you simply will not get the results you expect. It takes someone with a solid grasp of marketing to have a profound impact in the social world.
There’s much more to being a social business than just being present and updating consistently.
- Modern marketing, especially with social media, is no longer about bombarding people with disruptive advertisement after disruptive advertisement. Seth Godin defined the term “permission marketing” to mean earning the privilege to market to people who actually want to listen to you. You have to earn, not buy, peoples’ attention with social media.
- There must be strategy involved in your social campaigns in the form of long term marketing goals. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Get new customers? Drive traffic? Build relationships with current customers? After establishing your long term goals, derive short term objectives from those goals and set markers to ensure you’re always working toward the long term.
- Your efforts need to be measured and the strategy should evolve based on those measurements. Do certain updates bring in more sales, subscribers, or engagement? Do some social networks drive more targeted traffic to your landing pages? Social media is about constant experimentation and analyzing results to craft the absolute best strategy for your specific business.
Are you comfortable leaving all that to your office assistant, bartender, waitress, or [insert non-marketing employee]?
Mistake #2: You Approach Social Media With an “It’s Free” Mentality
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard business owners justify social media saying, “It’s free, we may as well give it a try!”
If your part-time office assistant is your social media manager, you’ve probably adopted this approach. It’s an understandable attempt to minimize costs as a business owner, especially in tough economic times.
While it’s technically true that social media doesn’t have direct financial costs if you haven’t outsourced your social media management or hired a social media director, the alarm in your head should blast any time the word “free” is uttered in business.
To be effective with social media, there are huge time and energy investments along with a fair amount of risk.
Think about it. Someone in your organization has to update, at least, the major social networks with highly valuable, targeted content and build relationships with followers of your business on a daily basis.
It takes absurd amounts of time and focused energy to produce and find that sharable content and even more time to actually be social with your followers.
This is time and energy that could be put toward other tasks — in effect, the minimum cost associated with social media is the potential profit you toss out the door by focusing on social media instead of other business activities. There’s nothing free about opportunity costs!
And what happens when you screw up on social media for everyone to see? Trust me, you will. Even the biggest companies with the best marketing teams in the world aren’t exempt from slipping occasionally — take McDonald’s for example.
Managing the fallout of negative public relations and spending time repairing your damaged reputation is certainly a cost, even if you don’t always attach a hard number to it.
Mistake #3: You Treat Social Media As an End Rather Than a Means To an End
Social media by itself is largely useless to any business. It is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means to an end. It is nothing more than a vehicle that allows you to go from point A to point B. Granted, social media is a monster of a vehicle that can take you to the moon if driven effectively, but that won’t happen if you treat social media as anything but a means to an end.
- If your product is not a “need satisfier,” it’s not going to sell on social media any better than it would sell on the shelf at Wal-Mart.
- If your blog is nonexistent and the infrastructure of your website is terrible, there’s nothing magical about social media that can help.
- If your content is boring or lacks value, and if you’re completely oblivious to who your target market is, your social media campaign isn’t going to be effective.
- If your view of marketing with social media is “If I build it, they will come,” they won’t come. That’s a guarantee.
Quality social media marketing can be a gold mine, but the foundation of your social strategy has to be in place before you see any of that gold. That means investing in a well-designed, user-oriented website and blog and having unique content that is valuable to your target market in place before you bother setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Steps You Can Take Today to Fix These Mistakes
First, pat yourself on the back for recognizing social media’s strengths and taking a stab at it. You’re one step ahead of many of your competitors already. But we’re here to improve, aren’t we?
Take the steps below, put them into action, and I promise you’ll see huge improvements with your social media marketing.
- Recognize social media is only a small piece of the puzzle. Keep your eye on the bigger picture: where do you want your brand positioned in the consumers’ mind? Craft your social media strategy in a way that enhances your brand’s value in the eyes of your target market. Make sure your brand is positioned exactly where your target market is looking at the precise time they need your products.
- Let go of the “it’s free” mentality immediately and be willing to dedicate resources — whether that’s in the form of dollars, time, or energy — just the same as you would with any aspect of your marketing strategy. This might even require outsourcing your social media management to a marketing firm or hiring an in-house employee whose primary responsibility is Internet and social media marketing.
- Do yourself a favor and start getting educated about the characteristics of successful social media campaigns. Simply observing how other companies effectively manage their social media is a great way to learn. A couple businesses you may want to look into are Convince & Convert and Ford Motor Company. Having a solid grasp of social media marketing will also be a huge help if you decide to outsource your social media management.