You’ve set up your profiles, posted your content, followed a few people on Twitter… and now what? Most businesses understand the power of using social media for business but struggle to create and execute a strategy effectively. Here’s a quick guide to the most common reasons why a social media strategy (or lack of!) fails and what you can do to fix them and get things back on track.
Not Having a Clearly Defined Social Media Marketing Strategy in the First Place
Before you jump in and start forming your social media presence, you need to develop a plan with key strategic elements that will ensure your social media presence is going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy. All too often businesses get their profiles set up and quickly start posting without considering key elements such as what types of content will I post and when, how will I measure success and if my customers are even on this social media platform. The result of which is a rushed, inconsistent and unsuccessful presence that is not going to be positive for your brand or provide any value to your customers. So on a basic level to help you get started, before you begin just ask yourself these questions;
- Why do I need to use social media and what do I want to gain in using it?
- Who are my audience?
- Are they on social media and if so what platforms are they using?
- What messages do I want to share with them and how am I going to do it?
- What content am I going to create?
- How often am I going to post?
- What social media platforms will I use?
- How will I measure my success?
2. Not Using the Right Platforms
Failing to develop a marketing strategy often leads to businesses not utilizing the best platforms for them. Many take a ‘join all platforms’ approach in the hopes that it will gain them maximum exposure, when in reality it has the opposite effect. It’s much more valuable for you for example to have three well-developed, active platforms than having to stretch your resources across seven many of which may not even play host to your target audience. From this, it is important to have a clearly defined target audience and to know where they spend their time online. So rather than jumping straight into Twitter or Facebook just because they have the highest number of members, take the time to really consider what platforms are right platform for your business. Do this by performing research on your current customers’ social media habits to find out where your audience likes to spend their time, the type of content that they find most appealing, and how they like to engage with content. All of this information will help you form a concise strategy that will maximise potential for success
3. Having Incomplete and Inconsistent Social Media Profiles.
All too often poor planning leads businesses to have an inconsistent image, voice and persona across their social media platforms. From incomplete profiles, to different profile images across platforms and different messages being shared, not having consistent branding fails to reinforce to your audience your brand message. From this, it is important that before you engage in social media that you are clear on what kind of image you want to portray of yourself and make sure to keep it consistent across all platforms. This consistency equally applies not just to the ‘voice’ you portray but also to the creative aspects, that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. If your brand or company uses certain colours then be sure to apply these consistently across the presentation of all your social media platforms. This also extends to a company logo or picture, make sure they are up to date and reflective of the image you want to portray. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.
4. Not Using Analytics
Analysing your metrics shows you a wealth of information and insights. It can show you whether your network is growing and how fast, how much of your website traffic is referred from social media and what content resonates best with your audience. Failure to analyse this data however is a huge mistake, without it you have no insights as to whether you are a making a successful and measurable impact and whether you are actually reaching the overall goals of your social media presence. In addition you will remain unaware as what you are doing right and what areas are in need of improvement which leads to poorly guided future decisions and the continued use of tactics that aren’t driving results. You don’t have to suddenly become a meticulous number cruncher however but you should pick several important metrics that are representative of your overall goals and regularly track and analyse them to make sure they are growing in a positive and successful way.
5. Not Posting Content that’s Interesting, Varied and Encourages Engagement
Social media is centred on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, many businesses make the mistake of sharing content that is simply an update of what they are thinking or doing or random images of cats to encourage likes that ultimately has no real substance or value in what they are sharing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet you post should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. You must also write your content with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. A common mistake made with posting is not including some form of media content such as a relevant video or picture that can lead posts to look uninviting and not capture a reader’s attention. To avoid making this mistake make sure to post insightful and valuable content that your readers will want to read and looks visually appealing also. Posts with some form of media such as a photo or link always get more clicks so it is vital that you try to include some form of relevant media.
6. Posting Too Much, Not Enough or at The Wrong Times
It is common to see businesses that either continually post unvaried and spam type messages all day across their platforms or leave it weeks without updating their content then have a sudden surge of content posted across their profiles in a day. What those businesses don’t understand is that in order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post varied and informative content consistently and at the times where your audience is most likely to see it otherwise your posts may be overlooked or ignored, causing your brand to miss out on important engagement opportunities and lack of interest generally leads to unfollows and unlikes from consumers. It is therefore vital that you figure out a comfortable writing routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it posting daily or several times a week, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact. This process involves some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you along with tracking your metrics to see when people are most active and your engagement and feedback rates for your posts. There are however two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your company goals and what your audience wants.
7. Not Listening and Responding to Your Audience
The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. Many businesses take the approach of taking several days to respond to comments, or only responding to positive interactions or worse not responding to either at all. Ultimately, people want quick responses from you if they interact with you online and if you fail to respond you ultimately develop a negative image for yourself by not acknowledging good and bad interactions and importantly miss out on opportunities to make valuable connections with customers and learn important feedback that can help develop your business in the future. From this, make sure to always have someone available to monitor interactions and what people are saying about you not just in your work hours. After all, you may only be working and online at 9 – 5 but that doesn’t mean your audience is.
8. Not Having the Right Person Managing Your Social Media Presence
Ultimately, whether it’s yourself, your sister an intern or a freelance social media manager, the person you have put in charge of your social media presence is in control of how your brand is presented publicly online and ultimately how successful your presence is going to be. It is vital therefore that you choose someone who has a true understanding of what your brand stands for, knows how to successfully market on social media and is proactively working with you to make sure both you and your audience are getting the best out of using social media. Remember it’s more than just simply having a presence, it’s also about knowing how to market yourself successfully and it is that point where that general family member, friend or inadequate social media professional is not going to successfully perform.