Note: This article (w/o the images) first appeared on the ChannelAdvisor blog in Oct 2016*
At first, you resisted. You thought, “You know, that might be great for some people, but I don’t really need that.”
Then you saw the returns, brand loyalty and customer engagement your competitors that invested in social media were getting. You did your homework and saw how social media can complement great brick-and-mortar, SEO and paid search programs and turn your company into a regular multichannel marketing behemoth.
That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
So you go and sign up for all the things: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest. You’re armed and ready to get marketing!
You post what you think will be the most incredible piece of content to hit your industry in the last 20 years, wait a few days and then…
No one liked or followed your post or pages. So what happened?!
We’re going to visit the top five mistakes brands that are new to social media (and some that aren’t so new) make and discuss what they can do to fix them. While these might not be the most brand-crushing mistakes you can make, these are the most common ones that I’ve seen in my years working in the industry:
5. Did You Fill Out Your Profiles?
You’d think something so basic wouldn’t be as overlooked as it is, but it happens. Often. A lot of new brands fill in the bare minimum and call it a day. Don’t do that.
Social media profiles usually get ranked in search engines, so your company’s search visibility is one reason to make sure your profiles are complete. Also, your branding is important. Don’t you want your potential customers to know that this is your official site and not some unauthorized page? Your profiles are your chance to show off more about your company and display your expertise — so don’t waste it!
Here’s a tip: think of each profile page as another landing page for your brand. That way, you’ll be less likely to overlook this step in the future.
4. Accept the Fact: It’s Pay to Play
Social media isn’t what it used to be. There was a time where a brand could post an update and it would be all over people’s timelines, in their newsfeeds and everywhere else — for free. Those days are so far gone, you might as well pretend they never existed. Those days went the way of your MC Hammer pants.
If you want most people — including your followers — to see what you’re posting, you’ll need to spend some money. On all platforms. You could write the best post, have the best sales, or anything else in between but the fact remains: if you’re a brand and you didn’t pay to promote your post, very few people saw it.
There’s no getting around it. Especially with Facebook. A paid social media marketing strategy doesn’t have to be expensive, and if it’s done right, it’ll be worth the investment. That’s why people do it. If you need some help knowing what to create or what to promote, there’s a ton of agencies and online resources out there for advice.
3. Why Are You Everywhere?
Did you do any market research first to see where your audience (or an audience for your products) actually is before signing up for every social media account you could find?
Why are you selling baseball caps on LinkedIn? Why do you have a WeChat account if you don’t ship to China? Is there a market on Pinterest for industrial rivets?
Yes, everyone should be on the “big four” (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) but realize that each platform will serve your business in different ways. Instead of trying to sell your catcher’s mitts on LinkedIn, realize that your clean and professional business profile can help you build relationships with other businesses — just don’t expect a lot of direct, small scale B2C conversions. Can it happen? Apparently. Have I ever personally seen it happen? No.
Target your efforts to platforms where your audience actually is. Choose your focus carefully instead of trying to do everything at once.
2. Do You Know What Your KPIs Are?
This could easily be number one. The problem I run into constantly when people start out with social media marketing is that they care about one thing and one thing only: Conversions.
No. Stop it. Stop it now.
I get it. You’re running a business, after all. But not all social media campaigns are only to get conversions. I’ll say it again — conversions are not the only KPIs worth caring about.
Picture this scenario:
You’re a new or small e-commerce site that sells posters. Well, everybody sells posters and you can’t compete with the big guys on price or brand recognition. You have a new Facebook and Twitter account and a small budget of $100 for a few weeks of advertising. What do you do?
Your first goal is to get people to notice you. If you want to convert, you have to let people know you exist. In this case, your goal would be audience growth.
Next, we need people that find you to realize that you’re a company worth talking to. In that case, your goal would be social engagement.
One thing always holds true: people like free stuff. How about running a ‘Like, Comment & Share’ contest on Facebook and/or Twitter to win a poster of a popular musician to coincide with their new album release to generate buzz around your brand? For maximum visibility, take it one step further by promoting your contest posts with sponsored posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Now you have an audience that you can market to in the future that has both a positive impression of your brand and has engaged with you before.
All of this can help you get those magical conversions you were so keen on when we started this journey. Did you know that an average of six to nine brand touchpoints have to happen on Facebook before someone actually makes a purchase? So yes, you need awareness first!
Which leads me to number one.
NUMBER ONE: NO ONE IS GOING TO SHARE YOUR ADS
No one is going to share your ‘buy my stuff’ ads. No one is going to share your ad that’s disguised as an article. No one is going to share your ad that’s dressed up as a product comparison. They will not share it here or there. They will not share it anywhere.
In this age of ad-blocker browser add-ons, DVRs that let you skip commercials and paid subscriptions on YouTube that let you skip 30 second ads, do you really think people are going to share out self-serving ads framed as “content?”
Unless you do what Arby’s is doing and start absolutely crushing it, it’s not going to happen. Product ads definitely have their place in your social media marketing strategy, but if that’s all you’re putting out, don’t expect to hit the engagement jackpot.
Instead of just sending out ‘buy my stuff’ posts, figure out what people are actually sharing. Look at where the trends are going (hint: it’s live and video) and see how you can get involved. Find your brand voice and area of expertise. Showcase your products and services but make sure it’s in a way relevant to what your audience wants, which may not always be what you want.
You know that one guy in your office that only talks about himself and how great he is? Don’t be the internet version that guy.
Social media marketing isn’t wizardry, its audience research, good content and planning. You will have failures as you learn but really, anything worth doing usually involves a lot of trial and error until you get it right. Know your brand, your KPIs, who and where your audience is, what people are sharing and what they find helpful.
**Author’s note, Jan 2,2017: Another huge mistake that I’m seeing lately that I didn’t cover in the original article is this: STOP HIRING INTERNS, YOUR FRIEND’S KID OR EXTREMELY UNDERPAID PEOPLE TO DO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. This is the face of your brand. Don’t cheap out or you’ll quickly find out why this is a bad idea – usually in the worst ways possible.**