During the last decade, social media became an increasingly powerful tool for branding and marketing. The networks provide ready-made audiences for the brand's message, and the cost of utilizing social media for a campaign is very low.
The ease of entry into social media marketing causes many business owners to believe that they can jump right into a campaign and have immediate success, but they fail to understand the complexity of social media and the amount of research and preparation that must go into social media marketing.
Since the barriers to entry are low, brands also face high competition online. Everyone is your competitor because everyone is competing for one thing: time. As people scroll down the app, they are skipping dozens of pieces of content. Brands work hard to make users stop in the middle of their scrolling and pay attention. This doesn’t come easy and requires an intentional plan and strategy.
When starting in social media there are six pitfalls business owners should be mindful of.
Understand Your Audience
Social media platforms are as varied as the markets companies are trying to reach. Facebook is a wide platform that can reach most demographics; however, younger people are drifting away from Facebook and spend more time on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Female consumers often prefer Pinterest, while males dominate Facebook. The company must decide which networks to target, typically no more than two or three, based on the type of consumer they wish to attract.
Find a way to study your audience and see where they like to hang out. Don’t use platforms that they don’t use. The worse thing a company can do is build a brand where no relevant audiences will notice. Go where they are.
Get To Know The Platforms
We need to know the platform as much as our target audience. Not all platforms are the same. The DNA and culture on it vary. For example, Facebook is full of your family and friends interacting while Twitter lacks those connections and people use it to connect with people all over the world. LinkedIn is professional and workplace content. Reddit or Facebook Groups are community-focused rather than highlighting individuals. These elements are important to know when you design your posts and interact with others.
If you break those cultural rules, it could affect your brand. For example, Reddit is very community-focused and each subreddit has its own rules and environment. If you post something that is clearly self-promotion, its users won’t take it kindly. Instead, you would add value through a great post, and then as a footnote, you can add some of your information. Forms of this etiquette exist on every platform.
Experiment With Posting Strategies
The key component of social media marketing is the number and quality of posts. Companies that post too often get ignored by consumers, who feel the company is flooding their news feed with useless junk. On the other hand, if there are not enough posts, consumers lose interest. A good rule of thumb is a single daily post on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+, and multiple posts per day on sites like Twitter or Instagram.
To be safe, focus on value. If you are consistent every day and post something that your audience appreciates, then you’ll win their favor and grow over time. Sit down and meet with your team on how often you want to post and what kind of content would be most effective.
Communicate With Your Customers
Consumers love social media because it allows them to interact with their favorite brands. They can ask questions, post complaints, and get almost instantaneous feedback, all of which enhances customer loyalty.
Companies who see social media only as a platform to spread a brand message, and neglect interaction with their customers will soon find their follower counts eroding. Social media is a two-way street and at least one person in the company should be assigned to engaging with consumers daily.
What we have seen is that posting is a great way to expand your reach. But the valuable connections and growth happen off the feed, like comments, direct messages, and virtual events.
Always Create A Call To Action
Too often companies get distracted by posting, sharing and the number of followers they have in their network and forget that the real purpose of social media marketing is to drive sales. Posts that don't prompt consumers to investigate the products or services the company offers any further than the shared content will not reap any substantial return on investment.
Ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. Do you want them to visit your website to learn more? Do you want an immediate purchase? Do you want people to sign up for your email list? Or do you just want to build your brand reputation? These are important things to know. Each end goal will influence what you post and what you ask followers to do.
Monitor Your Campaign Performance
Finally, social media campaigns are run by people, and sometimes they post messages or links that can harm the brand or the company's image. Part of social media marketing is staying on top of the posts and the responses so that business owners can respond decisively to negative posts. Never allow a social media campaign to operate without supervision; that's a surefire way to get embroiled in controversy.
Social media marketing is a necessity for modern businesses, both as a way to communicate with consumers and as a platform for sharing the brand's message. Using the right approach, companies can have success in the social media space, growing the brand faster than ever.