Today's team challenge is to talk about the pain points and top challenges many make in social media when they are beginning. We started this as only a top 10 list. That became eleven, then twelve, and we ended up with nineteen ways new users mess up when they start with social media. We actually had another but everyone does 19 lists and we wanted to be just a bit different. As Facebook and other social media outlets continue to change the rules you definitely want to make certain you do the right thing on each platform to reach the largest audience. We have all been in the beginning stages of social media marketing – even experts had no knowledge and grew over time. Over time we have seen some pretty horrific mistakes and these are what we are calling the top 19 social media mistakes any new user will make.
Lack of research – It is easy to make a page and be done. You need a logo, cover photo, name, phone, email address, website, and a street address. Many don't need all but overall that is what you will need. Before you make a page you should first think of and develop a plan (a single page plan will suffice to start). Key questions to ask are (1) who is my audience, (2) what is the purpose beyond just building it and hoping they come, and (3) where will I get content.
- Because I have a personal account… – Congratulations you have a personal Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn account! You're definitely an expert. Not even close. You are on the right track as that is where we all began as digital marketing companies. Business pages didn't exist in the beginning. They had to be built and then we had to learn. The benefit for you is you can read articles like this and learn from all the mistakes we made.
- Too many social media sites – Ten, even five, years ago people were starting to get on every social media channel as possible. Spread yourself as thin as possible and see what sticks. That is the absolute worst thing you can do. Especially if you are doing it yourself. You already have a business to run, employees to manage, products to keep track of, and you want three, four, even five social media accounts to try and drive traffic too? Don't do it! Start with one. When that is going well add another if your audience is on another. If you just post and have no one engaging then why are you even there?
- Same message – We see all too often that when someone posts on Facebook it auto-posts the exact same message on Twitter. Repeat that for any social outlet. There are some really great tools to schedule, streamline, and improve your message. The same message on all every time is a big mistake. The audiences are different, image types are different, and the content you write should be different.
- Content – Whether on a website or social media content is king. Unless you are a news organization you will curate content (e.g. share content) from others. This content should be specific to your industry, relevant, and tie in with what your company does. You should also create content that is compelling and helpful. Speaking of content which I know we talked about make certain what you are providing is valuable and not just there to look like you are creating content just to create content.
- Wrong images – Images can tell an entire story of their own. Each social media platform also has recommended image sizes. Adhere to them. You are on their turf and under their rules. Follow their recommendations for the image size to use for the content that you are creating.
- Neglecting your audience – We have taken over accounts and helped out others where they have replies from days, weeks, and even years (not months) with no response. They didn't feel it important to reply. This is for messages, timeline questions and comments, and even reviews (good or bad).
- Saying the wrong thing – When you reply if you have ANY bad feelings do not reply. Ask someone else that is more disconnected. Even if you try to come across calm, cool, and collected, the tone of the writing could come across as incorrect. You should have a customer service plan made even if it doesn't exist on day 1. Set time aside to make one. This can have some canned responses that can be customized but try and cover all scenarios. Keep it as a living document that you continually add to.
- Buying followers – We all want to be important and be as big as the most successful person we know. It just probably won't happen. When you BUY a follower, you are not buying a human to buy from you or become a brand ambassador. You are buying a fake account that will only decrease your organic reach. It is better to have ten people follow you that will buy from and promote your business than it is to have thousands that don't make you any money.
- Politics – Don't do it! Keep political conversations for Thanksgiving and other family events. In fact, don't do it there either. Just don't talk politics. It'll make for a lot less stressful life. Politics may not be just "politics". This can be anything you have a really strong opinion on. Even if everyone agrees with you that you talk to; don't do it!
- Personality – Not letting your personality through (or showing too much of your personality). You need to find the right balance for your audience. You want to be as authentic as you possibly can. The more authentic we are the more people enjoy what we have to say.
- Contests and Promotions – Everyone loves something for nothing. When you do it make certain you adhere to the standards. You might get away with it once or twice but is losing your account or being banned worth it?
- Too much automation – We utilize technology wherever we can to keep costs low and efficient. That doesn't mean we use it for everything; even if we could. We balance automation and the human factor.
- Hashtag abuse – All too often people will become hashtag happy. When you get the inspiration to add those half dozen hashtags take a deep breath and remove them. Hashtags should be used sparingly.
- Silo approach – Social media should not be your only approach to marketing your business. You definitely need a website. That means you need great content, updated often there, and indexed properly for the search engines. As much as social media changes the search engines change at an even faster rate.
- Metrics – Not knowing there are metrics, not looking at them, or looking at the wrong metrics is horrible. Metrics are known as insights or analytics. They will tell you who your audience is, when you are reaching them, the best days, and a lot more. Learn your analytics and look at them often.
- Overselling – All too often you see people sell-sell-sell. A better approach is to educate, inform, have some fun (if that's part of your business), and then sell. We like the 80% non-selling and 20% selling rule to "start". We then adjust it up/down based on the audience as we learn more about them with analytics.
- Overspending – Social media is free. That doesn't mean it doesn't cost money. Around every corner, you will be asked to spend money on advertising. We love the adage that you can get more with less. As an example, we used to spend $400 a month on advertising. That gained us 4-6 clients per year. We now spend $5-20 per week ($20-80 per month and now add one every week. That is a much better return on investment. Many weeks we don't spend anything.
- Losing consistency – We saved this one for last intentionally. Don't lose your consistency. If you are going to post once a week, post once a week. If you are going to post daily then post daily. The key is find a routine and stick with it. Every social media outlet, even websites, have recommended best practices. Learn what they are for each platform and adhere to them.
Every social media platform is different. You can be successful and do it right. The key is to have a plan, stay consistent, and let your personality shine. Following the above, you'll be off to a great start!