SMM (social media marketing) has proven to be a valuable element of the marketing mix because of its potential for wide reach and high engagement. Among the most important perks you get from efficient use of SMM are brand awareness, website traffics, consumer insights, and influences over your niche.
There are, however, certain pitfalls that render you from utilizing the full potential of social media. When you go to social media, you’re basically creating a community (ex. Facebook page, Twitter account), and every message you broadcast reflects strongly on your brand. Every little thing you do will stack up in time and this will be one of the measures for your success online.
Worst case scenarios happen when your SMM backfires on you and it totally messes your brand like bloody murder or a train wreck. Bad online reputation is hard to fix simply because you don’t have control over those who share stories about your brand. Prevention, then, would be your best bet here, since it’s much too costly for you to commit any mistakes in a high-exposure platform.
Preventing SMM mistakes
Prevent SMM epic fails by learning about the bad habits of companies that, at some point, they may have been guilty of.
#1. Too much hard sell
People, in general, would Follow/Like a certain brand for a good reason. These people want to be entertained and/or educated, not be sold to. Many businesses that take the plunge into the social media platform often fail to realize that it’s not a traditional advertising platform. They make the mistake of broadcasting advertisements. This is bad on their end since these messages aren’t really what their audiences came there for, which then leads to failure in engaging them and wasting time in fruitless actions.
Some brands take things in a whole new level, pushing for sales even in the most inappropriate times.
Clothing manufacturer Gap failed miserably in showing victims of the typhoon sympathy with their Tweet. This message brought them flak for being insensitive in a time when locals were depressed. They later removed it and gave a half-hearted apology in an attempt to avoid any more negative PR. Its pitiful efforts of showing concern like those make the corporate world seem colder than it is.
Do this instead: If you have to sell, do so indirectly. Share content about your niche that’s helpful for them. Aside from preventing you from looking like a phony, sharing relevant content to them could bring them to your website’s landing page and could ultimately lead them to buy.
#2. Ignoring your audience’s messages
Social media isn’t called as such for naught. The very nature of the platform allows fast and accessible communication, making conversations between consumers and suppliers as one of its focal points. Unfortunately, few companies take addressing comments and complaints via social media seriously. Data from a 2011 Maritz Research revealed that only 29% of the 1,298 respondents surveyed got a response when they publicly complained to a company via Twitter.
This is bad because 85% of consumers view a brand’s method of handling issues, be it through a website or social media, as an indicator of the quality of their support. Casting aside queries is going to cost them a lot of points in the long run, since customer service is a big element in branding.
Do this instead: If you’re managing your businesses’ social networks on your own, allot a specific time of the day for answering queries. This will allow you to keep momentum on your other projects since solving issues would require undivided attention.
#3. Having too many social media accounts
Many businesses fall to the trap of diving in every social media platform. You might think that this would be good because of the opportunity for higher exposure. However, it all boils down to knowing and focusing where your audience virtually hangs out.
Unbeknownst to many, managing a social media account could be very time consuming. Handling more than one or two may tire you out faster and make you less alert. Some queries might slip past by you, and that’s the best-case scenario. Worst case would be that your distraction and irritability from handling so many accounts lead you to make comments or remarks that you’d regret soon. It’s hard to fix a broken image, especially in the online arena.
Do this instead: Create accounts for platforms that your audience uses. Facebook and Twitter may be staple networks; certain demographics opt to be active on other networks like G+ and LinkedIn. Consider what kind of product you’re selling too since each social network have features that may be tailored-fit to use. Image-centric networks Tumblr and Pinterest, for example, are great for products relying on visuals for promotion.
#4. Censoring criticism
Seeing people air out their complaints on your platform would definitely tempt you to remove them, since it leaves a bad impression of you. This would, however, even be worse for image since they want to know that you’re listening to them. Moreover, they’d get the impression that you’re ripping them off since you can’t deliver on your promises.
Do this instead: Genuinely help them solve their queries. This gets better if you’re conversing over Twitter or on your Facebook page since people will see that you take them seriously.
Make the most of social media
Now that we’ve covered some of the worst practices on the platform (and what to do instead), it’s time to look at some of the best practices. These involve actions that help in your planning as well as certain techniques that push for better engagement.
#1. Use social media analytics
What’s great about Internet marketing is that everything is measurable, making gathering data for strategies more solid. Creating great content is one thing, but getting it exposed to the right people is another. Social media analytics tools will help you determine what, when, and to whom your content should be shared to.
Take a look how Starbucks manages their main Facebook page with the help of a tool call BirdSong. They’ve learned through their analytics that simply posting pictures of coffee on weekends works best for engagement.
#2. Add images when sharing on Facebook
Zabisco said that 40% of people will respond better to visuals than in text and that 60% of people are visual learners. This then presents opportunity for those sharing links on their Facebook pages since the platform allows users to.
To further highlight the importance of adding visuals while sharing articles on Facebook, take a look at these figures:
- Videos are shared 12x more than texts combined
- Photos are liked x2 more than text-only status updates
Buzzfeed knows how to market viral content. They are a good example to follow when marketing your content.
#3. Use the 10-4-1 Method
The content you share on your social networks doesn’t necessarily have to always be made by you, since creating them could be costly and time consuming. Also, sharing content only about yourself would most definitely give your audience the hint that you’re just all about promoting your image rather than building a relationship with them.
Share content from other sources, such as academic journals, technical articles, or video tutorials that you think your customers would find helpful.
Authors of “B2B Social Media Book” Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey Cohen developed a way to balance out how you share content on your social networks. The “10:4:1”method means that for every 15 posts on your social network, 10 should be helpful content from other sources, 4 from your company’s blog, and 1 directs to a landing page of your choice. This will prevent any speculation that you’re selling yourself because you’re endorsing another source. Also, promoting other people’s content would help grow your reach since you also become visible to their followers. This then could help you generate more website traffics and leads. Overall this method builds you a value-focused perception, because you help people rather than sell yourself.
Social media is a powerful tool for marketing, and using it in its full potential makes up for a big win for you and your company. The nature of the platform allows everyone to make their own content, thereby allowing a two way communication. In the end, it’s careful planning and showing the human side of your brand that wins the platform.