Eight common social media mistakes – is your business guilty?

16 July 2015 By Northern Lights

Eight common social media mistakes – is your business guilty? image

shutterstock_195363488My last blog looked at Nine Steps To Build An Online Brand, offering a few simple steps to create a simple but engaging presence that will help business leaders to use the internet and digital technology to win new business.

One of the key elements of this process was harnessing the power of social media. In this blog, I dig deeper into best practices for social media and highlight some of the most common mistakes businesses around the world continue to make.

Social media is an integral element of every digital marketing strategy and is a powerful way for cementing existing relationships and identifying and making contact with new customers.

By avoiding these simple blunders and keeping a clear focus on how it will benefit your business, I’m confident everyone will see a return on investment from social media.

1. Making it all about promotion

This is perhaps the most common social media sin. With no real scientific research at all, I’d guess around 40 per cent of most B2B social media accounts fall into the trap of only promoting what they have to offer and the latest news about their business.

It’s absolutely critical that people know they can engage in conversation with you and know they will get useful insights, news and information. Share content your customers will want to read, ask questions, respond to comments and join conversations. Social media needs to be personal and engaging. Aim for a maximum of 30% promotion, 70% social.

2. Having no social media strategy to follow

Too many companies just have the attitude that they have to be seen on social media and never consider what message they should be communicating or what result they want from their activities. Posting blindly will be confusing at best and will most likely turn potential new customers away.

From the very beginning identify a clear voice and what you will be talking about and sharing. Set measurable goals and keep checking performance against them. Create a social media policy so everyone in the business knows what to do and also plan out an editorial calendar so you can share content and opinions around key events.

Crucially, stick to the strategy. Don’t be tempted to vent your frustration about the latest X-Factor reject when you’ve spent six months sharing the latest insights and opinions on renewable energy policy.

3. Tackling too many social media platforms at once

The biggest message I hear from business leaders is “I don’t have time for social media”. Social media needn’t be time consuming. As with all marketing strategies, identify where your customers are and then focus your energies there.

Businesses often sit down and register for every social media account, but then quickly stop updating every platform as it becomes too onerous a task. Accounts that show no activity for months on end just tell customers you are disorganised or not engaging and they will switch off.

Focus your energy on a platform with the potential to deliver the results you need and then start adding activity to other platforms when you have the content and strategy in place.

I’m often heard saying take ownership of as many social media sites as possible to stop others from hijacking your brand. I stand by that, but suggest that you create a holding page with useful information and directions to your active platforms, rather than trying to add occasional bits of content.

4. Having no personality on social media

shutterstock_185401310It’s easy to believe that many social media accounts, especially in the B2B sector, are run by corporate robots – faceless drones that can only promote their own news or provide cut and paste responses to any question.

Social media is all about people and it’s important to remember that people connect with people, not with brands – with the exception of the masses blindly following Apple.

Make it clear a real person is behind the content you post and a real person is responding. Ideally, use an image of the person responsible in the profile or include a name or initials in the content you send out.

At the very least, make it clear real people are involved in the process by engaging in a light-hearted, witty manner if appropriate.

5. Ignoring complaints or questions on social media

Social media has quickly become the most popular medium for complaining about products and services. To make matters worse, research suggests that most people expect a response within an hour.

If you don’t respond, at best, people will go to a competitor. At worse, the complaint will quickly escalate and become a viral disaster that spreads across the web.

Closely monitor how people are engaging with you and try to respond to all questions and complaints. A swift response that provides a solution will create an advocate for your brand. Someone who is ignored could become a serious and powerful detractor.

6. Making social media content difficult to read

shutterstock_256933597Hashtags and handles are great ways to engage audiences and are very useful in getting your content found.

#However, #when #overused #they #can #be #extremely #annoying #and #make #content #difficult #to #understand.

Keep hashtags and handles to a minimum and make sure you only use hashtags that are relevant to the subject you are sharing or talking about. Don’t be tempted to jump on a trending topic just to promote something completely irrelevant.

Similarly, while social media has been swamped with puzzling phrases and broken English like YOLO, brb and idk by Generation Y, despite your desperate hopes, you are not “down with the kids” and should make sure your content is properly proofread.

Keep content accurate, properly punctuated and correctly spelled. Many turn a blind eye to simple mistakes, but frequent errors soon start to paint your business in a bad light.

7. Paying for fake followers

How often have you looked at a social media profile and thought ‘how on earth have they attracted 10,000 followers?’. All too often, the reality is that they haven’t attracted that number and they’ve paid for a huge number of fake followers.

There are a number of services that have created thousands of fake accounts and, for a relatively small fee, they can all follow you with a swipe of a credit card. Many businesses believe large numbers of followers add credibility and demonstrate the quality of their social media offer.

The reality is that it does little to help as these fake followers won’t spread the word, won’t provide any engagement and, crucially, won’t buy. Many social media platforms are now also working to delete these fake profiles – quite a few celebrities and businesses seem to be losing thousands of followers overnight…

Grow your followers organically by engaging with them and building relationships. They will help spread the word about your brand and become new customers.

8. Forgetting to be social

shutterstock_287164271Social media is exactly that – social. To have a successful profile, you have to engage and interest people in exactly the same way you would in person.

If you were stood with friends at a social gathering, you hopefully wouldn’t blather on relentlessly about yourself and how great you were regardless of what was being said around you. You’d listen to what was being said, share opinions and useful information and also regale people with interesting stories and articles you’d heard. Apply those same rules to social media.

These are some of the most common social media mistakes I see and I’m sure there are more. Please share your own social media pet peeves in the comments below and I’ll make sure they are included in future updates.

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Written by Northern Lights

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