4 Key Social Media Mistakes You're Probably Making
Social media can revolutionise your brand presence, or do more harm than good, depending on your strategy and execution
Whether or not you’ve already embraced social media in your business, the facts can’t be denied. Not only is it the fastest growing global communication medium, but it’s completely revolutionised the way brands and consumers interact.
The problem is that for many businesses — large and small — it remains unchartered territory viewed with uncertainty and even a degree of suspicion.
SMEs in particular seem to struggle with social media. This could be due to a misunderstanding of the role that social media plays in business, underestimating the sheer power of it and not using it effectively as a business tool.
Here are four common mistakes many SME social media pages display and some of the solutions you can implement to overcome these shortfalls. Why should you care? Because social media is a relatively inexpensive way to really boost your brand presence — if it’s used effectively.
Let’s get started.
According to www.imagibrand.com: “Social media marketing done the right way requires skilled talent. Your brand should never hand its social marketing over to an inexperienced marketer or marketing team without making sure there exist true capabilities and talent to develop, design, produce and execute the volume of creative needed to have successful social channels.”
1. Misconception and misuse of social media
The problem: Social media is often (and incorrectly) perceived as a ‘nice-to-have’ but unnecessary by many SMEs. I’ve met many business owners who are sceptical about social media and its place in the business environment. Sometimes, the only reason that the brand even has a social media presence is because its competitors do.
Social media is also typically viewed as a platform for brand-centred content. Some use it purely for hard-sell advertising posts, while others use it as an online company bulletin board. Both are completely ineffective ways to use social media.
Why you should care: A lack of understanding often leads to misuse, and this is particularly true of social media. A vicious cycle results: Social media is already viewed as a waste of resources, but it’s still used (incorrectly) to push sales or publish fluffy content.
These strategies (or lack thereof) do little to promote business goals, strengthening the view that social media has no place in business. An example of a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one.
Worse still is the misconception that your social media pages are there to solely promote brand objectives. This could cause serious brand damage as social media users expect, no, demand, attention and value from brands. Failure to meet such needs risks losing current and potential clients that perceive the brand as being ‘self-centred’.
What you should be doing: Social media is a powerful business tool and should be treated as such. It has the capability to serve as an integral component of your organisation, and as a key catalyst for growth.
For SMEs, social media holds incredible value, including the options of extensive audience reach, detailed consumer targeting and sales generation. Effective, well-strategised use of social media is the path to achieving these tangible returns.
From a content perspective, the main point to remember is this: It’s not about you. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, nobody cares. Social media is all about the user experience. When creating a post, view it from an audience perspective to ensure it has user-value of some sort.
Ask yourself these questions: Is it informative? Is it interesting? Is it useful? Is it entertaining? If you can’t answer yes to at least one or two of these questions, don’t post it. Research your audience and craft posts that they are likely to engage with (i.e. like, comment and share).
According to dreamgrow.com, 46% of users will stop following a brand’s social media platforms for sharing too much promotional content.
2. Assigning management of platforms to junior and/or untrained staff
The problem: Most SMEs view social media management as a non-essential, non-priority task. The general practice seems to be assigning this role to junior and/or untrained staff, such as interns, receptionists or any employee that happens to be available.
Why you should care: Consider this. A social media page is potentially the single most impactful touchpoint for a brand, making it a highly critical, powerful and very public portal. And then consider that many SMEs assign complete management and control of this critical contact point to junior or untrained staff. Can you spot the reason for concern?
Not only does this open you up to risk ranging from an undesirable public reaction to an unsuitable post or response, but in serious cases, could also result in legal action. Aside from such drastic situations, poorly or inadequately managed social media pages generally lead to a negative consumer perception of the brand as a whole.
What you should be doing: Treat the position of social media manager the same as any other role: Assign it to an individual with the required knowledge and experience. As most SMEs are unlikely to already have a social media expert within their team, this could mean recruiting a new employee or agency.
While this sounds like an awesome solution, it may not be practical for SMEs with budget restrictions. In this case, consider ways to use current resources. For example, get managers of different departments to provide input and suggestions for content, as well as approve relevant posts. If possible, assign non-critical tasks to junior staff as a means to free up time that senior staff can then dedicate to social media.
3. Not using paid advertising
The problem: SMEs often allocate little or no financial resources to their social media activities, such as Facebook paid ads. Instead, they rely on organic reach or inbound audiences.
Why you should care: For someone to see an unpaid post, they would need to actively search for your page themselves. This is the equivalent of leaving a stack of printed flyers on a table in a corner and hoping that people would stumble across it.
The recent Facebook Feed change further necessitates the need for paid advertising — the new algorithm restricts the organic reach of business pages. This means that the only way to get any real exposure is through paid promotion.
What you should be doing: Paid advertising means that you actively distribute your message to consumers. Your content appears directly in users’ content feed — they are exposed to your message even if they have never heard of your brand.
What’s better, targeting means that you can restrict this to your desired demographic — it’s like handing out those above-mentioned flyers to a room full of people who have already indicated interest in your product or service offering.
The result? High conversion potential and little to no wastage on irrelevant market segments. (At this point, you may be shouting that you don’t have money for paid advertising. But keep calm and read on.)
Social media advertising is highly affordable. For example, Facebook promotions start from as little as R100 a post. Even though realistically you would need to invest a bit more to get decent results, the point is that it’s accessible even on a shoestring budget.
Important: Read up on the dos and don'ts when attempting paid advertising for the first time (especially regarding setting spend limits).
4. No structured social media strategy
The problem: The vast majority of SMEs have a social media presence that lacks any sort of structured strategy. This is evidenced by a number of factors, including erratic frequency of posting, unclear purpose of posts, and even content that holds little relevance for a brand.
Why you should care: Without a planned strategy, your social media activities lack purpose. Any business task that serves no clear function or purpose is a waste of resources. It’s no wonder that decision-makers are reluctant to invest in social media as a result.
“Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic.”
What you should be doing: Rather than being an isolated function, social media activities have to form part of an integrated strategy linked to core brand objectives. The starting point is to identify priorities across your entire organisation, and then list key focus points.
For example, if you have a current promotion, you can drive sales by targeting consumers through a paid social media ad. If you are looking to grow brand awareness, you can create user-centric content crafted for high reach and engagement. If your current focus is on product development, send out a poll to gain insight into consumer preferences.
Once planned, content then has to be crafted and scheduled to form a well-balanced strategy. This then needs to be tactically executed accordingly, incorporating a budget for social media ad spend to realise tangible results.A result-driven strategy means that you can now measure return on investment. This includes social media generated stats (such as engagement rates and brand reach), as well as business data (such as sales volumes or leads). And once the numbers are out, my prediction is that decision-makers will become much more willing to allocate resources towards social media activities.