Social Media Obstacles to Avoid for More Effective Marketing

Hopefully by now you can understand that social media marketing is something that nearly all organizations can benefit from. And it simply makes sense– that's where the crowd is these days (and by crowd we mean consumers). Furthermore, digital marketing efforts can go a long way in the social media world, and often for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing methods. Social media has also brought about an increase in transparency, however, forcing marketers to be more on their toes than ever. Even one small error could end up severely tarnishing your brand image, as we've seen it happen before (Google KitchenAid and the company's infamous tweet regarding President Obama's election). We've all made mistakes, and whether you're a beginner to social media or a seasoned pro, you likely will, too. The best way to avoid them, however, is to draw attention to them. There are a few common social media marketing mistakes that have been visibly noticed over the years. Many companies just aren't aware of how to promote the best outcomes and avoid common pitfalls that can detract from their efforts. Here are thirteen common social media mistakes and how to avoid them:

1: Jumping into social media marketing without a plan

Anything you do for your business should be done with intention. With that being said, jumping into social media marketing without an understanding of its purpose and a clear strategy is a huge mistake (that many companies often make). It's likely that doing so will ultimately result in a huge waste of your precious time, money and efforts. Why? Social media marketing, the successful kind anyways, requires a plan and careful execution in order to work in parallel with other business efforts. It's important that your overall strategy and social media attempts (yes, all of them) should be connected to your broader business goals. So take the time to truly strategize with your marketing team and build out a social blueprint with specific guidelines to follow.

2: Missing your target audience

It's very important to understand who your target audience is, so that you may align your message and overall business strategies around them. When it comes to social media marketing, you want to direct your efforts to the platforms that used most by your ideal clients. This makes sense, right? What's the simplest solution? Don't just guess where your best clients spend their social media time- instead just ask them!

3: Having incomplete profiles

Have an incomplete profile can make for many missed opportunities. Your profile allows you to express what you do and who you are as a company in the few precious moments that you have to capture a visitor's attention. Make sure as much of your ‘about' sections are filled in, and don't be afraid to really let your brand's personality shine. Since the content within social profiles now rank in search, filling these in are that much more important. Use high quality header and profile images and supply necessary contact information that viewers may be seeking, or at least link to a website that does.

4: Being inconsistent or not posting enough

It's impossible to build up an army of social media fans if you're inconsistent with your posting and activities. It takes time and effort to build up online relationships and to do so you must truly keep your followers interested and engaged. Keep your branding and message consistent. This will allow for followers to easily recognize and form a connection with your brand. In terms of a schedule, there's no one right answer, but each day should include following up on yesterday's posts and interactions and then posting your new content for that day.

5: Failing to produce original content or shareable content

This isn't to say that you can't share relevant content that has already been created, but know that original content is going to appeal more to your audience. Find a good balance between your original content with that of others and this will help you to improve traffic, reach new visitors and establish yourself as an industry leader. That being said, don't just produce or put out content just for the sake of it. Subpar content will hurt your brand and cost you followers. Study your target audience, which you should have already done while strategizing your initial marketing plan, and really put forth an effort in supplying them with something that they want or need to hear.

6: Over promoting your business

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Social media is all about building relationships, and we know by now that successful relationships are never one-sided. Offer something to your audience. Avoid constantly shoving your sales message down their throat. Modern social media is about adding value to your follower's lives. No one likes being sold to. People use social media to be entertained, informed and to socialize. Keep this in mind as you develop your content strategy to avoid over selling your products and services. Don't misuse fans that appreciated your brand by bombarding them with advertisements. Make them fall in love with your brand by posting relevant content that's useful to them in some way.

7: Spamming and/or buying fake followers and likes

Another common mistake often made by companies is constantly throwing around irrelevant or promotional links throughout all of their social networks. Sharing content on a frequent basis is a necessity of course, but you don't want to overdo it. If you do, followers will eventually grow tired of you flooding their social media accounts. Determining how often you should post is going to vary based on several factors including your industry, your following size, how active your followers are and the individual network's own algorithms.

While you may pay for ads to reach some of your target audience, paying to boost your fan count and/or ‘likes' is a tactic that should always be avoided. Third party companies offer this for most of the big social media platforms now (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), but it's important to know that these fake followers and fake engagement add very little to your community. In fact, it can ultimately be detrimental to your brand, as it undermines your audience. There's even risk involved of your account be terminated, as paying for such activity is a scam that against the terms of most social networks. Don't take the easy route. Put in the work and you'll actually reap the benefits of social media.

8: Being too shy or too personal

There are several companies that are extremely careful with their social media presence and tend to tip toe around their efforts. Unfortunately for them, these companies often go unnoticed. It's important to be active and visible. I mean, that's the whole point of being on social media, right? Let your fans get to know you. Sharing your brand's personality is essential to helping you stand out from the competition and also let fans know the faces behind the logo. However, on the other hand, you don't want to get too personal. Engaging in negative feedback or sharing sensitive topics such as politics, religion, etc. can really harm your brand's reputation and turn off your followers. Need proof? Just do a quick Google search, there are several well-known, top brands have that made this misfortune before.

9: Not responding to comments and complaints

As a consumer yourself, you likely understand how much customer service influences your views of a business. In fact, 76 percent of consumers see their interactions with customer service as the true test of how much a company appreciates them (1). Your social media accounts serve as mere extensions of your customer service, and as a company you need to be ready to address any and all customer issues or feedback. Neglecting to do so runs the risk of losing customers you do have, and, because of the publicity that these social media interactions might attract, customers you might have had. It's a good idea to make sure to have some appointed to monitor your comments and interact with your fans. As cheesy as it sounds, you need to somehow make them feel special. If you choose not to, they will simply move on to another company who does. Point being; lack of conversation with your followers will decrease the value of your customer service and social presence. To create a truly successful connection with your fans you must engage. If a user comments on your page you should always try to reply, even if it's with a simple thank you or thumbs up (people love emojis these days).

10. Not engaging with other users

It's simply not enough to just post interesting content. After all, it is called social media for a reason. You have to actually make an effort to connect with other users in order to build relationships that will benefit you as a company. You're not the only one who has amazing content to share, so be sure to spread the love around. Do so by commenting, liking, sharing, Retweeting and replying to other user's posts and online content. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised to see that the more you engage with users on a personal level the more likely they will be to click your links and interact with your content to help you reach a much wider audience. Aside from connecting and engaging with customers and potential customers, be sure to use your social media platforms to network and build your book of industry contacts. You never know how these individuals may be able to help you in the future.

11: Not spending your marketing time and dollars wisely

Even paid advertising across the networking platforms we've discussed can be very affordable, which is just another part of social media's charm. However, don't just toss your money into them blindly. Take the time to really understand where you marketing dollars will be best spent. For example, we know that LinkedIn is great for networking and Twitter great for external links, while Pinterest is great for showcasing your products; three very different platforms and three very different types of advertisements.

It's also important to know when it's appropriate to invest time and money into social media platforms and when it could be better utilized elsewhere in the marketing department or organization as a whole. There are many levels to this. For example, don't continue churning through money with sponsored Facebook ads when really the company could benefit more by hiring a new employee to handle the uptake of social mean efforts. Simply be smart.

12: Giving the wrong people or too many people access

The point of being on social media is to share your company's voice with the world. This likely won't be successfully accomplished if you're outsourcing to a third party or having an unpaid summer intern manage your activity. This isn't to say you can't delegate this important marketing project, but just remember to find the most qualified person or agency for the job and to work together on an ongoing basis.

13: Not tracking your efforts

As with any marketing endeavor, you must continually test and measure your social media efforts. Is your content reaching the right people? Is your content bringing in the kind of return you had hoped it would? Without consistently monitoring your activity and efforts you'll never be able to see, or, more importantly, understand the effectiveness of your campaigns. Use custom URL's for each piece of content that you put out, use a coded call to action or create a distinct discount code to use only across these platforms. There are a variety of ways in which you can easily and quickly evaluate and determine the best approach to reaching your target audiences.

Final Thoughts

Social media is one of the greatest, and in some ways cheapest opportunities available to promote your business. If you're not careful, however, you run the risk of making costly mistakes that could waste your effort and time invested and, worse, tarnish your brand image. Remember that building an engaged community takes time and effort. Don't rush it too much. It's almost inevitable that you'll make some mistakes along the way. Avoid these 15 common pitfalls, however, and you can look forward to growing your online network and converting that success into sales and leads. Now it's time to get to work!