With so many businesses now using social media marketing, those who haven’t yet caught on run the risk of being overlooked in an increasingly fast-moving culture of interconnectivity.
It is clear that social media is crucial for businesses, but using it successfully is a fine art – there are a distinct number of things you should avoid doing at all costs.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of fifteen mistakes that can turn an otherwise solid social media marketing campaign pear-shaped.
1. Only sticking to FacebookFacebook is often the first social media platform that springs to mind, and, yes, you should definitely be using it. However, to fully maximise your audience, you need to diversify.
While Facebook is usually the most significant outlet for social media marketing, it’s far from the only place which will benefit your business.
There are a number of social media platforms that may be suited to your brand, such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.
2. Using too many networks at onceAlthough you should be on platforms other than Facebook, having too many networks can be just as dicey.
You aren’t going to help increase traffic to your website by creating accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and SnapChat, only to let them gather dust because you’re not regularly managing them (and how are you actually going to find time to manage them all anyway?).
Instead, work out where your target market spends most of their time, and ensure that the platforms you use are industry-appropriate.
A pivotal thing to remember when fine-tuning your business’s approach to social media marketing is that not every social media platform will be suited to every type of business.
For example, a highly visual platform like Instagram is not going to be appropriate for a business that doesn’t provide visually oriented products or services – it won’t, for example, be suitable for an accounting firm.
Social media marketing is a delicate business, and effective use is not as easy as it looks. One inappropriately worded post can be actively detrimental to your business.
If you lack marketing expertise yourself, get in touch with a social media professional.
3. Not thinking before postingThis has to be one of the biggest mistakes businesses make on social media, and can be hugely damaging.
The sense of immediacy and rapidity that comes with having a social media presence can be immensely beneficial to your business and the way you are able to connect with customers, but this can also result in the communication of poorly worded content and inappropriate messages.
This can be disastrous. And even if a bad post is soon deleted, chances are, someone has already seen it.
Avoid this by reading and then re-reading every potential post, and asking yourself whether the material is truly fitting with your brand and beneficial to your business.
4. Forgetting to spell-checkPoor spelling and grammar can look sloppy and unprofessional, and will drastically reduce the impact of otherwise great content.
Take care to read over and spell-check content before posting.
Fine details – and your ability to spot them – reflect heavily on you as a brand, and while they might seem like they’re not a hugely big deal, these are elements which people online love to point out.
5. Responding unprofessionallyAt some point, you will almost certainly encounter angry or upset people, because that’s simply what happens on social media.
However, it’s vital that you always engage in a respectful and polite manner. Even if you are being attacked, your responses should reflect the professionalism and integrity of your business.
Again, once it’s out there, you can’t take it back – a single unsuitable comment can be hugely damaging.
6. Being too casualOne of the most effective ways in which social media enables you to connect with your audience is the easy, conversational forms of communication it fosters.
Engaging with customers in a casual, relaxed way is great for personalising and humanising your brand – social media marketing isn’t about stuffy formality.
However, there is such a thing as too casual. Avoid text-speak abbreviations – don’t use “u” instead of “you”, for example. Don’t swear. Don’t voice personal opinions about contentious subjects (religion or politics, for instance).
What you put out there can be fun and relaxed – and can certainly be a personalised reflection of the ways in which your business is unique – but ensure that you still maintain a sense of professionalism.
7. Leaving comments unattendedIt only takes one negative comment for things to start spinning wildly out of control. Don’t leave your comments unattended.
People tend to feel invalidated and unappreciated when they’re ignored, and trolls and hecklers who are left to their own devices will only become more and more difficult to handle.
It’s important to reply to all comments and complaints in a timely, professional manner.
8. Posting in a hurryDon’t be tempted by the ease with which news can be broken on social media.
Before you post, take a deep breath and think for a moment.
Is the message appropriate, given your brand, your target audience, and the kinds of goals you associate with your presence on social media (such as strengthening customer relationships and increasing your brand’s authenticity)?
If you are posting a link to a piece of news, is the source trustworthy?
Is the material actually legal to share?
Is it likely someone will be offended by it?
9. Cross-postingWhat may work in a medium like Facebook may not also work on Twitter, and vice versa.
And, put frankly, cross-posting also just has a tendency to look lazy, as though you simply could not be bothered tailoring the material accordingly. This reduces the impact of the content itself.
Ensure that you customise the content you post across each platform, and consider its compatibility with the platform itself.
10. Hiding from negative commentsIf a customer posts a negative comment on your Facebook wall, don’t just delete it. And don’t simply refuse to engage with negative or controversial comments.
Firstly, you should value the criticism, because it could be a reflection of suboptimal business practices, and also of what other followers might be thinking.
Secondly, responding to comments like these is a valuable way in which you can provide transparent and effective customer service. Showing your audience that you are able to handle negative feedback or difficult situations when you are put on the spot is one of the many ways in which social media enables you, as a business, to take control over the way your brand is perceived.
11. Not using imagesMultiple studies have indicated that content that is accompanied by images or video is accepted at significantly higher engagement rates.
Social media is a highly interactive, visual medium, and it is very likely that your audience does not want to read content that consists solely of text.
Posts and tweets that have compelling, engaging image-based components will generate more “likes” than those without, and are far more likely to grab the attention of your audience.
Images are crucial to both promoting your website, and in cultivating your brand itself. They provide customers with evocative, vivid forms of what your products and services are all about.
12. Don’t neglect itA neglected profile is like a kiss of death for social media marketing.
Your updates should be regular and consistent. If you, say, post at a particular time of day, every day (or once a week – how frequently will depend on your following and the nature of your business), your followers will start to expect this, and will invest more trust in your brand as an industry leader. This kind of confidence won’t be inspired by sporadic updates.
13. Not taking ownershipIf your business is at fault, apologise. If someone has left a negative comment, reply to it – don’t avoid it.
Not only is this best practice in terms of successfully running your business, it will also serve to create a sense of brand confidence and trust, and offers up a form of transparent communication.
If situations that involve conflict of some sort are handled diplomatically and politely, and with a sense of responsibility, potential customers will see this as a display of integrity, not weakness.
14. Sharing too much informationYou want to be giving your audience enough to whet their appetites, but no more than that.
The content you post should therefore leave some questions unanswered, and should prompt a call to action.
Providing too much content can be as harmful as not providing enough – the right amount will titillate your followers, and leave them wanting more.
15. Being inexperiencedBecause social media tends to be the province of younger generations, those more experienced, senior members of your team may have less social networking expertise.
Furthermore, where these younger members of your workplace may have a stronger grip on social media practices, they might lack the professionalism that comes with decades of industry experience.
Ultimately, you should find a way to combine this tech-savvy freshness with more polished professionalism by ensuring that everyone on your team is on the same page in terms of social media marketing strategy, and in relation to the overall vision and values of your brand.
It is also worth considering hiring a professional who lives and breathes social media marketing – if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can do your business more harm than good with just one poorly timed slip-up.