As a marketer or business professional, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It can be used to boost your traffic, generate leads, increase conversion rates, and receive an excellent return on your investment. Conversely, the lack of a social media presence can dramatically decrease your online visibility, among other things. Lastly, a poorly developed or deployed social presence can actually hurt your company’s ability to effectively market your products, services, or brand.
There is a ‘right’ way to use social media to boost or revitalize your online marketing potential, which means there is also a ‘wrong’ way to do so. With that in mind, here are seven deadly sins of social media marketing that you might be doing right now, and which are limiting – if not outright hurting – your ability to use your social presence as a vital weapon in your marketing arsenal.
1. Not having a social media presence at all. Surprisingly enough, there are still plenty of companies that believe marketing on social media is not worth the effort. The marketing potential provided by social media is profound, and it is a critical mistake to overlook the goldmine of opportunity at your fingertips. Consumers today are making more than half their buying decision before they even make initial contact with a company. Many of them are doing so by reaching out to friends, family, peers, and other members of the social media community to learn more about a company and the products or services it offers before they decide to make that first step into a sales funnel. Don’t neglect a strong social media presence because you think you do not need it, don’t know how to do it, or cannot make it work effectively for your business.
2. Not picking the right social networks. Now that you know why you need a social media presence, that does not mean you should run off and create a profile on every social network on the internet. You should take some time to evaluate each network and the dominant user base that spends the most time on that network. Young, career-oriented single males do not necessarily patronize the same social networks as middle-aged married couples with children. While it would be great if every product or service ever marketed was wanted or needed by everyone regardless of age, education, marital status, or other factors, unfortunately that isn’t true. This means you need to know where your target audience spends the most time when they are using social media and choose those networks as the platforms for your marketing messages. You can’t do this, however, if you are forgetting about the next ‘deadly sin’ of social media marketing.
3. Not knowing who your target audience really is. Before you can create content that attempts to appeal to someone or entice them to take action toward your sales funnel, you not only have to know what you are marketing but who you are marketing to. You need to understand who your target audience is, not only in terms of their basic demographic profile but also regarding what they want or need from you. People make consumer decisions because they are looking for something that answers a question, meets a need, solves a problem, or fulfills a desire. Knowing who your target audience is on as many levels as possible is essential to creating actionable marketing messages that they will find impossible to resist.
4. Not using the right type of message for your chosen network and desired audience. Speaking of actionable marketing messages, are you using the most effective content on social media? For example, a five-word impact statement may work great on Twitter but fall flat on Pinterest, while a tutorial video gets shared like crazy on Facebook but completely ignored on LinkedIn. Not only does each social network have a dominant type of user base, but it also has a dominant type of message in terms of what has the most impact. There is no ‘one size fits all’ content type or format that is universally appealing or successful across all social networks, so find out what will work best for whatever you are offering to your target audience.
5. Not maintaining an active presence on your chosen social media networks. Regardless of which social networks you choose to use, you do not want your presence there to gather dust or give the appearance of being abandoned. An active presence on social media will let people know that you want to communicate and stay engaged with them on a regular basis, and it also lets them know that when they need to get in touch with you, you are there for them to do so.
6. Not becoming involved with and invested in your followers, fans, and social media community. This point is different from being active. After all, you can have an extremely active presence on a social network and not connect with your fans and followers at all. When you become involved with and invested in your fans and followers, you strengthen the B2C relationship and more firmly establish yourself as a credible, reputable, and authoritative member of your industry or chosen niche. Social media is all about being social, and you cannot do so if your presence focuses strictly on one-way statements from you to your audience rather than two-way engagement between you and your audience.
7. Not having a well-developed social media marketing plan. Having a well-developed marketing plan for your efforts on social media is just as important as having an effective social media presence. An effective social media marketing plan incorporates many of the items listed here such as identifying your audience, selecting social networks, choosing the right format, and so on, but it contains several other key factors as well. Your social media marketing plan should also include processes or methods for developing and distributing content, using cross-channel marketing, scheduling the publication of your marketing material at times when it will be most visible, goals and objectives you hope to reach, and monitoring the effectiveness of your marketing messages. An effective social media marketing plan, at the very least, provides support and reinforcement for your overall marketing efforts and strategies.
If your company is guilty of committing any of these ‘deadly sins’ of social media marketing, don’t start worrying just yet. There are plenty of easy ways to take a flagging or failing social presence and completely turn it around. Even if you have to start from scratch, you should consider it essential to revamp your strategies to make social media marketing a much stronger and more successful part of your overall marketing plan.