As fun and addicting as social media can be, using it to successfully market a brand is no picnic. With over two and a half billion worldwide users (and growing), effective strategies and trends seemingly come and go by the hour.
Being that the gargantuan stream of information moves at an incredibly fast, non-stop pace, standing out in the crowd and gaining significant traction requires a great deal of premeditation.
Now, even with all its challenges, social media presents a phenomenal opportunity for businesses to connect with audiences on a personal level and showcase a unique, humanized tone. Never before has there been such a widespread platform where this is possible.
While there is no guaranteed formula to guide your efforts to success, there are a number of social media blunders to avoid while promoting your brand message. Let’s discuss some grave mistakes that no business cannot afford to make.
1. Sounding Too Much Like an Advertisement
There have been all kinds of reports and studies conducted on average ad exposure, including the oft-quoted but unverified stat that the average American is exposed to around 5,000 forms of brand messaging and advertising every single day. With such an overload of promotion, it’s important to note that consumers (especially the younger generations) have become more or less numb to blatant sales tactics. No wonder, then, that they are hesitant to trust brands that use such methods.
Generally speaking, most people don’t go on social media for the purpose of being sold to. They log on with the intention of connecting with their favorite people and entities across the web. This means they don’t want that “brand relationship” with you, even if you want a “customer relationship” with them.
Take a step back and look at your branded posts. Do they sound like they’re coming from a robot or an infomercial?
To be successful, you must work to adopt a conversational tone and bring a human touch to your messaging. Regardless of what you specialize in, there are plenty ways you can adjust your phrasing to be more relatable. Take Merriam Webster, for example. While proper English and grammar may not be the most fascinating topic in the world, they have found a way to put a clever spin on paying attention to both written and verbal correctness.
On social media, M-W is able to promote their educational message in a fun, casual way so visitors can easily relate to it in their everyday lives. This just goes to show that no matter what your mission is, there are captivating ways you can convey it so people feel a connection.
Get creative with it!
2. Dissecting the Wrong Metrics
All good marketers these days will tell you that analytics play an extremely vital role in providing the right insights to progress your strategy. Without gauging how your messages resonate, it’s much harder to learn what direction you should take moving forward. Additionally, you will end up making the same mistakes over and over.
However, not all measurements are apples and oranges. While the obvious tangible numbers are likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc., there are a number of more in-depth social media metrics that matter.
For starters, look at the growth of your fan base. After each posting, look at how this number fluctuates. Also, analyze the types of followers you have. How big are their networks? Keep in mind, current fans and followers are one of your greatest sources of acquiring new prospects. The bigger your community, the more trustworthy you are perceived to be, and the bigger you grow as a result.
If you want to build an impactful community of followers, you need to know exactly what kind of people you are dealing with. Unfortunately, traditional forms of market research will only take you so far. Picking up on the granular insights of your social circles will require you to go straight to the front lines. This information is critical for learning the common personality traits and communication styles to play to.
This makes it necessary to examine the demographics of your followers. Using the platform’s own analytics, such as Facebook Audience Insights, you can get all kinds of information on who exactly connects with your messaging.
Understanding the behaviors and preferences of your audience is crucial for creating targeted content that addresses their needs and wants.
Next – and this is a big one – you MUST track your brand mentions and relevant keywords across social platforms. This is necessary for identifying trends, hot button issues, and what people are saying about you, your competitors, or industry as a whole. Awario offers an intuitive social media monitoring dashboard that allows you to stay on top of all this information, so you have the right intel guiding your actions.
Social media is an incredibly vast arena. With so much analytical information out there, it can be tough to know exactly what to look for. Investigating irrelevant metrics can easily lead to inaccurate content.
3. Inconsistent Posting
It will be terribly difficult to gain a followership if you are only posting once in a blue moon. As quickly as the flow of social media content moves, sparse publishing will make it easy for people to forget you exist. But, on the other hand, over-posting can end up annoying your fan base. Additionally, it’s hard to produce high-quality content if you are distributing all day long.
Your goal should be to find a happy medium where you can consistently create valuable content that engages followers. Ultimately, you should be releasing posts at the times most likely to garner the most attention. There have been many studies conducted in this regard. Truth be told, it will likely vary based on your business and background. Look at your analytics and find a common pattern. Once you have pinpointed a good timeframe, create a schedule for consistency.
Now, it can be tough to create compelling posts on the spot when you need to meet a deadline. If you your social media strategy is built around “days” and deadlines, sooner or later, you will be scrambling to put your work together. To play it safe, it’s a good idea to keep a bank of stellar, non-time-sensitive posts on reserve. This way, you will never have to sacrifice quality in the midst of a time crunch.
Social Jukebox is a great scheduling tool that allows you to load up a “jukebox” with content (from “libraries” on a plethora of topics) and set a schedule for consistent distribution. If you’re feeling extra creative on a particular day, you can put together a jukebox of your own for future use.
Leave the technical aspects and timelines to the machines!
4. Being Desperate for Conversation
Be it an individual or a business, everyone wants one thing on social media: attention.
Without it, what’s the point?
One of the most fascinating aspects of social media is that it truly gives EVERYONE a voice that can be heard by the masses.
However, there is a fine line when between captivating and “over-doing it.” Your quest for public response should not cross any boundaries that could potentially result in a serious blow to your business’s image. Asking for action on something completely out of focus with your industry is a big no-no! You may remember seeing all kinds of posts on your timeline similar to this one:
This post by Frames Inc. was meant to invoke an emotional reaction so users will like and share their page. Not only is it completely irrelevant to their business, it’s incredibly immoral and quite frankly, despicable. Exploiting a suffering child for business exposure is inexcusable. The sad part is there were probably hundreds of people who took the bait and gave Frames Inc. a considerable amount of exposure.
Luckily, it seems most users have wised up this form of desperation – algorithms did long ago.
If you want to go for emotional appeal, be sure it directly relates to your mission. Animal shelters have been doing this successfully for years.
Social media users today can smell desperation from a mile away. If you need inspiration, take advantage of social media monitoring tools like Buzzsumo to get an idea for what is trending in your industry. By searching a brand name or specific keyword, you will learn about the issues and concerns prevalent to your niche in real-time. From here, craft your posts to address these topics.
5. Thinking Your Business or Industry is Too Boring
While content marketing can do amazing things for all businesses, some industries are at a disadvantage. There are a lot of products or services that initially seem uninteresting with little-to-no potential for compelling content.
Take Charmin for example. By itself, the toilet paper industry is not exactly fascinating. But, with some outside-the-box thinking, they have become famous for their witty tone and content on social media. By engaging with other popular content outlets (like BuzzFeed) with a clever brand persona, they have successfully turned a boring product into a hilarious concept.
Rule number one of content creation is you need to be original with everything you produce. Start by taking your product or service and break it down as much as you can. Why do people need your business? How do they interact with your product or service? What problems do you aim to solve?
With this knowledge, brainstorm innovative ways to leverage your material and put a unique spin on it to reach consumers on a relatable level. Truth be told, if this is a significant roadblock for you, it might be time to search for a new creative team.
No industry is “too boring” to create compelling content.
6. Not Assessing the Limits of the Platform
Social media is ideal for the purpose of reaching wider audiences. However, each platform is very different and the policies and limitations you need to conform to could potentially be problematic – especially when re-branding your business or individual profile.
When you’re at the drawing board for any new marketing campaign, be sure you have a detailed list of obligations and prerequisites for your targeted channels at hand. For instance:
- If you want to use automated means such as bots, spiders, or scrapers to collect users’ content or information on Facebook, you will need to get their permission.
- Twitter reserves the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark.
- The URL of your company page on LinkedIn can only be changed by contacting them.
If you’re planning a major campaign you don’t have much experience with, there might be many different requirements and clauses to be wary of. Do yourself a favor and read up on all the fine print before developing your plan.
7. Being Insensitive
It’s no secret we are living in a time when people are easily offended. Even the smallest hint of a dark joke, intended or unintended, can cause a huge stir in today’s hypersensitive, troll-dominated, digital society that is never shy of social-shaming brands.
Clorox learned this the hard way when their tweet attempting to relate new emojis with their product (bleach) was lambasted as being offensive to colored people.
As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid topics and terms associated with race, color, creed, religion, nationality, and sexual orientation. Unless your mission directly relates to these issues, your best bet is to steer clear. You’d be much wiser to choose the right words before posting on social media than repent later.
This tweet by DiGiorno had people in an uproar for understandable reasons:
#WhyIStayed was a hashtag created to bring attention to victims of domestic violence and provide a platform to discuss their situation. As the hashtag was trending at the time, DiGiorno tried to bring a comedic element to it by promoting their brand parallel to the hot button topic. Although the intention was more or less harmless, many people were furious at the insensitivity.
This illustrates why you should never, ever skimp on research and vetting. You need to look at a post from every angle before publishing it. And that brings us to…
8. Mucking Up Hashtags
Companies typically use hashtags on social media to promote their product, or themselves as a brand. They also use them to “up” the interaction for a particular campaign.
If you go the route of creating your own hashtag, make sure it does not imply any double meanings or attract possible unruly comments. The last thing you want is for the hashtag to turn into a “bashtag!”
One of the most infamous examples is that of McDonalds, who fell victim to the bashtag syndrome back in 2012, when they launched #McDstories to gather customer stories about their food.
Ouch! Saying this concept backfired would be an understatement.
To avoid becoming the subject of a bashtag, ask yourself these questions during the planning stage:
- Does the hashtag resemble any slang?
- How many angles could this be looked at from?
- What are the potential risks?
- Does it sound right? Does it give out the meaning?
- Why is the hashtag trending (if you decide to jump into an ongoing conversation)?
Hashtags are one of the most powerful components of social media. Be sure you ALWAYS look before you leap. The consequences could be detrimental.
9. Bungling Your Crisis Response
A crisis is a time when people can get EXTREMELY riled up and be nearly impossible to reason with. Combined with their ability to comment and interact with brands at any given moment, it is crucial that you keep a steady head when responding. If you try to argue or delete comments, you’ll only do further damage to your vulnerable reputation.
On the other hand, you DO NOT want to remain silent and hope the issue simply goes away. Believe me, it won’t. Target learned this all too well a couple of years back during a special sale of Lilly Pulitzer items.
The limited selection sold out in stores within minutes. With all the buzz and increased traffic on Target’s website, the ecommerce platform crashed – leaving droves of online shoppers out of luck. Instead of addressing the issue as it happened, Target’s social media profiles went silent. The delayed response showed a general lack of concern for the customers.
Users were quick to take to social media to voice their disapproval. Target responded with a standard apology after their store went back up:
As for United Airlines, the less said, the better.
In the face of a crisis, it’s best to take the challenge head on and act quickly. Experts say that brands now have just 15 minutes of “Twitter Time” to respond to a crisis on social media, as opposed to a “Golden Hour” a few years ago.
When all is said and done, it isn’t so much the crisis itself that matters. Accidents happen. A brand is judged WAY more on its response and management of the situation.
Over to You
Although there are very few guarantees in the realm of social media, one certainty is that big platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram are here to stay. The standard of quality of content on these networks is only getting better.
That being said, you cannot underestimate the amount of work it takes to put together an engaging campaign. The key is to be persistent. Not every post you create will turn to gold. Regardless of whether it’s your first attempt or hundredth, do your best to avoid these common mistakes. With proper planning and execution, your social content will gradually work to build a loyal community for your brand.