It wasn't long ago that Social Media seemed like a novel concept in mainstream marketing. Just a few years later it has become a virtual requirement for a company's online presence. It's a strange paradox that given the widespread proliferation plus the obvious ROI of social, many businesses still treat it as a must-have on one hand, and a superfluous investment of time and money on the other. It's quite obvious that a large number of companies out there think that throwing a logo on a Facebook page and leaving it's uncharted destiny in the hands of an office clerk or marketing intern is a sufficiently sound plan. Well, it’s definitely not! Social presence is a vital aspect of a brand's digital imprint, and as such, it is probably best left untackled rather than executed poorly. With that in mind, here are some rudimentary mistakes we frequently see businesses make when venturing into the social realm:
Consistency is key...as anyone at Starbucks or McDonald's will attest to. Whatever the established posting pattern is on your social media platforms - you need to remain faithful to it. Consistency sets up an expectation of content delivery and a perception of quality. Big gaps in posting are a dead giveaway that a strategy is lacking. Inconsistency can also create the perception that a business does not have sufficient resources or dedication to uphold their brand, which can be be translated into sloppiness in service delivery in the eyes of a potential client who is researching your company online. So stick to your schedule!
Treating Social as an Extension of Your Website:
This is perhaps the gravest misuse of social and its sole purpose which is (as the name suggests) creating community and engagement. Sharing your website content on social platforms is a great practice, no doubt, but it shouldn’t make up a large percentage of your posts. The uniqueness of social media lies in the opportunity to humanize your brand, to give it a face, and to communicate something about the heart of your organization. Social platforms are a great way to showcase your company’s culture and values, to feature team members, and to demonstrate differentiating aspects of your business - whether it be the atmosphere of your store, highly personal delivery ethos, or community involvement. Think of it this way: your website is the person presenting at a conference, while social is the person connecting and networking at a conference.
Overpromotion Trumping Added Value:
How long would you hang out with someone who only talked about themselves? Chances are you’d start avoiding them pretty quickly. Using social solely for the promotion of your product or service has similar effect - it’s a great way to motivate your fans to promptly look for the ‘unfollow’ button. We live in an age when all of us are inundated with social marketing, and everyone is out there competing for eyeballs. In order for a prospect to become a fan of your business, they have to emotionally resonate with your brand, and be fairly convinced that there is something in it for them. Creating value should be one of your primary goals on social media - this can be accomplished with posting relevant and useful content, creating contests and exclusive fan giveaways, providing inspiration and entertainment value, etc. This type of approach definitely results in higher brand allegiance and engagement.
Poor Quality of Visual Materials:
Like it or not, we live in a visual and aesthetically driven world. The good news is, given the high quality of phone and digital cameras, plus a plethora of free editing apps and software, there really are no excuses for diluting your brand with mediocre images. Photos and videos still make for the most shareable content on social platforms, with some like Pinterest or Instagram devoted entirely to visuals. There is a huge opportunity to employ relatively accessible tools in order to feature quality images that are relevant to your business - your office or store, your team, attended events, and internal culture. Video is also an extremely powerful marketing tool, especially on social media, and it’s definitely worth allocating a budget to have one or two professionally made clips showcasing your organization.
Not Allocating Time for Engagement:
The “if you build it, they will come” philosophy may have worked in Field of Dreams, but unfortunately it’s not enough to create organic fan growth on social. Engagement is a vital part of social strategy. Liking, commenting, and starting conversations doesn’t only create potential fans and leads - it also communicates friendliness, approachability and reciprocity. It’s important to allocate time not just for posting, but for active and consistent engagement on all the platforms where you have chosen to have a presence. In a nutshell: you need to socialize on social!
Correcting these basic mistakes will definitely result in improved online presence, but there is much more to it than that! Successful and brand enhancing social media execution is a vast, complex, and always evolving practice in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. Given its demonstrable ROI it most certainly warrants the same amount of attention and resources as all your other marketing endeavours. There are a multitude of online resources to make sure you are staying on top of your social media game. Of course, it should ideally be be handled by someone with a proven track record in designing and implementing a brand congruent strategy that will foster and engage your online community. We’re always happy to chat about how we can help!