The recent COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing quarantine have seen some brands successfully focusing their efforts on social media and others seem to be missing the mark. So why are some brands’ attempts to move their marketing to social media falling flat? We’re willing to bet our bottom dollar that it’s because they do not have a dedicated social media strategy. Done right, social media has the power to build long-term awareness, trust, loyalty, and prospects. But it is a skillset. One that requires theory and commitment. No need to frantically search for an online crash course, we’ve compiled a list of the five most common social media mistakes and how to avoid them.
#1 The Spaghetti approach
Even before quarantine, most companies knew that social media was no longer just for personal use. Paid advertising, influencers, branded content, and recommended products were becoming part of mainstream marketing. However, the issue lines with strategy, or rather the lack thereof. While traditional marketing tactics garner hours of planning, revising, testing, and analyzing – social media marketing is often treated as an afterthought. Companies simply toss pasta at the wall and see what sticks, in other words, they post things and hope for the best.
This directionless-posting leads to issues like inconsistency, inappropriate tone or content, unprofessionalism, and can cost a brand greatly, thankfully it’s easily avoided. The best way to implement social media marketing is to come at it like you would any other marketing campaign, with a plan. Consider your audience, the message you’re trying to send, the outcome you want to achieve, the image you want to portray, etc.
#2 GIVE IT A DASH OF PERSONALITY
Each platform, just like each brand, has its own personality: Twitter covers a very diverse range of topics from the random inner thoughts of Chrissy Teagan to New York Times articles but is overall conversational and LinkedIn tends to keep its tie on. That said, your brand will also have its own unique personality that is tweaked to fit each platform’s personality. This tends to trip up smaller companies with more limited resources. In an effort to save time, some brands will simply share the same content between all their platforms. The downside of this is that not all content is created equal on all platforms.
Here’s the easy fix: treat social media marketing, not as one homogenous channel, but several different channels that require different approaches.
Your posts should be personalized to the platform on which you share them.
LinkedIn. As mentioned above, LinkedIn is a pretty professional platform, so it is best to keep your content straight forward with just a dash of personality for flavor.
Twitter. Twitter is for chatting. It’s conversational and a great place to focus on engagement and connections.
Facebook. Here’s where you let your hair down. Facebook is all about personality and ‘keeping it real’ with your audience.
Instagram. Posts on Instagram are visual, so it’s a great opportunity to do sneak peeks, behind the scenes, and updates on your brand’s going-ons.
The main goal of social media is building relationships. You’re looking to encourage interest, trust, and long-term loyalty. When it comes to mastering social media, the hardest hurdle to overcome is consistency, not just in the type of content you post but when you post it. Not so much so that you post every day at 9 am, but you should be consistently updating our platforms. You want to avoid manic waves of high-density posting and radio silence. That kind of inconsistent content will negatively affect your brand’s engagement, relationships, and overall image.
Content calendars are one of the best ways to stay consistent. Whether you plan out each post, word-for-word a month in advance, or just get a general layout of dates and topics, having some sort of structure that you can integrate into your business schedule will provide that much need consistency. Taking advantage of handy tools like Sprout and Buffer or just completely outsourcing to a dedicated social media agency will help lighten your load. In addition, the algorithms that these platforms are based on are designed to show more love to accounts that post consistently and interact more. So, either way you look at it, consistency is key for mastering social media.
#4 DON’T JUST BE A MOUTHPIECE
No one likes to be talked at. If you had a friend that only talked about what they want to talk about or just themselves—a very one-way type of relationship—you wouldn’t keep that friend around.
The same goes for brands. You want your brand to be engaging, relevant, relatable, and welcoming. A good rule of thumb recommended by most industry experts is the 5:3:2 content ratio. Broken down, the rule is that for every ten posts five should be content from outside sources, three are content you created, and two are fun, personal posts that increase connectivity. The underlying theme being that all of your posts should relate to your brand in some way and be relevant to your followers. The two personal posts will humanize your brand and make the interactions you have with followers seem more genuine. And if a follower messages, responds to, or asks a question on one of your platforms, try to reply whenever possible, further showing genuine consideration for your followers.
#5 STAY UP TO DATE
With people spending an average of 144 minutes on social media each day, consumers are becoming increasingly eagle-eyed and cynical. Your outdated marketing-speak will not fly. Oh, and now consumers strongly distrust brands. No one believes what they feel you want them to believe anymore. What was the response to this fallout? Influencers.
Influencers range from celebrities and industry experts to normal people who have amassed a large following. Now, celebrity endorsement is not exactly a new strategy, but social media has made it a far more accessible strategy especially for smaller brands. Collaborating with influencers is a great way to promote your brand, the specifics of how you do so is the topic for another post altogether.
So now you have collaborations and promotions set up, but don’t stop there! You’d be surprised by how many brands stop here, at the halfway mark. The next part of keeping your brand up to date and relevant is to be continuously testing and analyzing your methods. The point of this to make sure that you’re evolving with the trends. What’s making waves today may barely be making ripples next month. So, make sure you stay on top of your analytics, and that you know what will work and what needs to be phased out of your strategy.
Armed with these five guidelines, you’re ready to ride the social media beast.