People make mistakes, and so do businesses. Social media marketing is one place where it’s all too easy to make mistakes that can have long-lasting effects on your social media strategy or company reputation.
There are many kinds of mistakes that can hurt your social media strategy, but here are five that can actually ruin a social media strategy. They’re easy to make, and difficult to overcome. Luckily, they’re also easy to avoid if you know what to look out for.
Mistake #1: No Long-Term Commitment
We see it all the time: a company gets all excited about their brand new Facebook page, their new blog, or their sure-to-succeed Twitter and LinkedIn efforts. Check back a few months later, however, and the pages look almost the same as they did when the project started off so hopefully.
Sometimes this mistake is linked to the myth that if you build it, they will come. But social media isn’t a movie. A great-looking photo, profile, and page design doesn’t insure traffic, fans, or followers. You have to earn those by working on your engagement and communications every single day. It doesn’t take a long time, just 20 minutes per day. But you can’t afford to skip the basics like engaging with users every day, updating the page regularly, changing out your cover photo and profile image every few weeks.
Mistake #2: Automation Overload
Automated apps that help you pre-schedule content can be a huge help to any social media program – but don’t overdo it. It’s annoying to see Facebook posts that show up with Twitter hashtags (#keyword) in them, or Pinterest posts that reference Twitter names (@Twitter). It’s a turn-off to Facebook or Pinterest users, who can get the idea that they are less important to you than your Twitter followers. Making them feel unimportant is a good way to get your posts hidden, or cost you their business, so this can be a costly mistake.
What’s the solution? Make sure that you’re posting to each site differently. The best social media management applications remove hashtags automatically, or at least allow you to quickly and simply edit posts for different sites.
In general, it’s ok to pre-schedule some of your posts. But don’t rely on pre-scheduled, “canned” content for your social media effort. It’s about being “social”, after all – so at least 25-40% of your content should be genuine interactions with other people. Answer questions, comment on other people’s posts, offer congratulations or kind words when you retweet. You’ll be amazed at the increase in your fan base and your online success once you’re actually interacting with others instead of just pushing content out in hopes that someone will click through and read it.
Mistake #3 Post Traffic Jams or Ghost Towns
Have you ever seen a Twitter or Facebook user who posts 25 updates in about 10 minutes? That’s what can happen when people try to “post when they have time”, and it can result in a post traffic jam that encourages readers to hide the poster’s new posts from their newsfeed so that they don’t hog the whole page.
The exact opposite of that is the post ghost town. We’ve all seen pages where nothing new has been posted in two months or more. That makes people wonder whether the page owner is serious about social media – or even whether they’re out of business.
The solution is to develop a content strategy and post to each of the networks you’ve selected at least once a day. Even if you have time only to pre-schedule a single post each day for a week, that’s better than nothing. Then, when you have time, you can spend a few minutes interacting and commenting, and even chatting with users.
The fact is that most people will forget all about you and your company if you aren’t posting regularly. So committing to regular posting is part of the process of developing a winning social media strategy.
Mistake #4 – Ignoring Questions or Negative Comments
In many companies, the PR, marketing, or sales department handles social media posting, but customer inquiries or problems are handled by customer service, support, or product management teams. So it’s important to have a mechanism that gets customer service questions that are posted on social media sites to the right person – and a policy for handling the inquiry until the right person posts the answer.
It’s important to respond to every comment and post, and every direct message. People expect fast responses, and anything longer than 24 hours for a small business, or four hours for a larger company is just too long. It’s vital to let the person who posted (and everyone who reads your reply) know that you value your customers, and that their questions are important.
If it’s a question about a policy or product, use a simple reply like “Thanks for that comment/question, Mary – I don’t know the answer, but I will find out for you and reply here as soon as I know”. That will give you time to do your homework.
If it’s a negative comment about your product, service, or a company policy, reply with an answer that offers to resolve the problem offline. “Hi, Bill – Sorry to hear of your bad experience. Please send me a private message with your email address or phone number so that I can have the proper person follow up with you,” may be the best response.
Ignoring comments – or worse, deleting a negative comment without replying – you risk alienating your fans. At the same time, don’t feed the trolls by engaging in a public dialogue with someone who may have a hidden agenda.
Mistake #5 — No Conversion Strategy
Let’s face it, most companies engage in social media because they want to sell products and services. But one of the most costliest mistakes in social media is the lack of a conversion strategy. Everyone likes cute puppies, but unless you run a pet-related business, posting pictures of cute puppies may not be the best way to convert your social network fans into customers.
For that, you need to drive traffic to your website, your blog, and to opt-in pages for your email marketing campaigns, or sign-up pages to download content. The more ways you are connected to each person, the better.
Multi-channel communications isn’t optional these days. With so many messages vying for customer attention, having multiple ways to communicate with your network is essential.