Social media has exploded over the past 2 years. Businesses, large and small, are integrating social media marketing campaigns into their marketing plans. The ones who truly understand the purpose of social media are reaping the rewards while those who are just following the herd are having trouble justifying their time and money spent on social media marketing.
Don’t be part of the herd by making the same common mistakes when using social media to market your business. If you want to see real returns on your time, effort and money spent on social media marketing, then you must follow these simple rules:
- Be Authentic
- Be Consistent
- Be Patient
- PUBLISH GREAT CONTENT
If you cannot honestly say that you adhere to all 4 of these things, then chances are that you are not going to get far with your social marketing efforts. To work towards these standards it helps to look at what you’re currently doing and understand some of the most common mistakes that marketers make when using social media to market their business online. As well as you may think you are doing, you could very well be making these same mistakes without even realizing it.
Don’t Make These Social Marketing Mistakes
Two traits that consistently contribute to the most common social marketing mistakes are inexperience and laziness. You wouldn’t try to sell a home in a market you knew nothing about or expect to gain a listing by placing just one pathetic ad somewhere. That said, why would you expect to get leads, followers and subscribers from your social marketing efforts if you have no idea what you’re doing or by posting one pathetic tweet or blog post once every other month?
Surprisingly, the same people that are making these common mistakes and have these skewed expectations actually have no idea that they are making the most common mistakes. Fortunately, we are going to define what the most common mistakes are so at least you know what to avoid and how to best use your time, effort and money in your social marketing campaigns.
5 Most Common Social Marketing Mistakes
mistake #1: Being a Poor Listener
Whether you are brand new to social media or have been using it for a couple years now, the biggest mistake you can make is NOT listening to others. “Others” includes your prospects, your clients, your friends and most importantly, those who DO know what they are doing.
Social media is all about online conversation. A conversation is not a one-way thing. If you are not truly listening to what others are asking you or recommending, then you are wasting your time and cluttering up people’s social media streams.
TIP: Use Twitter Search to find people in your industry that are using social media effectively and listen to them. You will learn more than you need to about how to interact and use social media by doing this one thing.
mistake #2: Expecting Results for Doing Nothing
If you’re posting something on Twitter or Facebook only once a month, or even once a week, and are expecting people to engage you, then don’t be surprised if your social media world remains lonely and desolate.
People flock to social media sites to have interesting conversations, learn from authoritative people and get inside access that they would not otherwise have offline. By limiting your involvement in social media to a pathetic once a month / week schedule, you are drastically reducing the possibilities of prospects being able to find and engage you.
TIP: Use a service like Ping.fm to post something interesting, different, controversial, informative or engaging at least once a day. Using a service like Ping.fm will allow you to have each post get sent out to multiple social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more.
mistake #3: Being Self-Centered
One of the quickest ways to scare people off or lose existing followers is to only talk about yourself / your company and then expect others to talk about you as well. If your social media content revolves solely around you, how great you are, or what someone else can do for you, then you are completely missing the purpose of social media.
People want to follow others who are givers, not takers. They are looking for interesting content. If you are able to deliver that to them consistently and effectively, then you are passively corralling these people to become loyal followers of you. Down the road this makes it easier for you to eventually talk about how your products or services can benefit someone as they will be much more captive at that point.
TIP: Use Google blog search and make it a point to read other blogs within your industry. You should be doing this anyways to constantly improve your skills and knowledge. When you complete an article, leave a comment for the author that asks a questions, disagrees with them, or provides some substance or support to the article written. Don’t leave a comment like “Great article” as this is pointless. The author of the article, and other readers, will see your comment. So, if it is interesting then you most likely get some visits back to your website.
mistake #4: Caring More About Making a Sale than Making a Connection
Everyone is looking for some type of ROI out of their social marketing efforts, but many people make a very common, and enormous mistake, when using social networks for marketing. If you want to lose all of your followers and prevent new people from listening to you in the future in the quickest way possible, then all you have to do is try to sell your product / service through every tweet, status update or blog post you publish.
Social media marketing is about making connections first and foremost. Sales come as a bi-product of these connections and should always be attained passively. People DO NOT want to get bombarded with sales pitches and updates about how great your product is over someone else’s. They want and need to connect with you first, trust you second and listen to you consistently after that. Once you have established these things, then sales will come naturally.
TIP: Force yourself to go one month without talking about your product online. Instead, focus your efforts on talking about everything related to those products or services. Think about what you absolutely specialize in and share that insight and information through great blog posts that are then syndicated online through networks like Facebook and Twitter. People will appreciate your knowledge, listen to you, trust you and eventually come to you directly for related recommendations and services.
mistake #5: Not Being Transparent
One of the greatest things about social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is that a normal, everyday person can get access to people and companies that they would otherwise have a very difficult time attaining. For example, if you have a problem with your AT&T service, instead of waiting on hold for 20 minutes, you can post an @ reply to AT&T customer care with your problem and get a response within minutes. Best Buy provides this same type of access and transparency with their @twelpforce initiative.
If you are closed off and do a poor job of responding to @ replies and requests in an open, honest way, then you will never realize the true potential of social media. If, for some reason, you are not comfortable being transparent, then you should analyze why this is because you may have bigger issues to attend to. Social media puts power back into the hands of the consumer so unless you learn to work with this, then you will not realize any type of ROI on your social media efforts.
TIP: Be proactive about being open. Don’t wait for people to call you or your company out on something. Post updates on mistakes you may have made, and also the solutions or plans of action that you are taking to resolve these issues. Request feedback from people and be ready for the negative stuff as much as the positive stuff.
Use Social Media Marketing to Your Advantage
More often than not we find that many people are intimidated by getting involved in social marketing. Common concerns revolve around time, expertise, ROI and vulnerability. These are valid concerns – if you allow them to be.
Social marketing, in its essence, is actually quite simple…
Publish great (interesting, unique, original) content consistently (at least once a week)
Do this and people will find you, follow you, trust you, listen to you and eventually, buy from you.
If you’re a terrible writer, then hire one. Great writers can be found all over the place. Craigslist or Guru are great places to start to look. Listen when we say that one of the best investments you can make is in a great writer. You most likely have tons of knowledge and expertise in your field so let it out and share it with the world. You will establish a loyal following quicker than you think.
Consumers have more power now than ever so enlighten them, interest them and most importantly, be honest with them, and your business will realize exponential growth faster than you think and more cost effectively than the old, traditional, ineffective marketing methods you are accustomed to using.
If you have been successful using social marketing to grow your business we would love to hear about it and even feature your story on our blog and social networks. Or, if you just flat out disagree with the recommendations we have made, then please engage us as we would love to hear why you feel the way you do. Either way, we encourage participation and conversation (as you should) so leave us a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.