Social media can be highly addictive – if you run personal profiles on social media channels you quite probably know just what I am talking about. As humans and social creatures we feel a compulsion to see what others think of our own contributions and we’re eager to see what our friends post and keen to react to that. This replicates online what we do when we meet others socially – we chat, exchange views on topics of mutual interest and pick up on the news others have and comment on it.
So, what is it that leads so many business owners to miss out on the strength of this interchange to market their product ? There are many answers but most can be narrowed down into 5 mistaken attitudes:
1. ‘Social Media is not for me’ – Fair enough but this is a personal and not a business reason to stay away from it. Delegate the assessment of social media marketing for your business to someone in the organisation who does understand it or employ a consultant to do so. Have a social media marketing strategy developed by that person and then arrive at a conclusion as to the way forward based on that and their advice.
2. ‘I just don’t have time’ – Especially in small businesses, we all wear many hats and many of our team do so too, so there is absolutely no shame in this. Social Media Marketing, as with any other aspect of your marketing, needs proper focus. This view is characterised by the Twitter and Facebook accounts that were started 2 years ago, have a few updates posted back then, a very small number of followers and maybe a second flurry of posts 12 months, or so, after the first. Social Media Marketing demands consistency, so, again, review who else could be handling this including potentially involving a consultant to prepare a strategy and take care of this side of your business for you. Outsourcing is a way forward and not something to be embarrassed about.
3. ‘Ah, free advertising’ – We have all seen this mistake made. A hotel I had in my circles on Google+ had a set of 5 updates that they posted daily in rotation, each of them featuring one aspect or another of the hotel’s sales points. Needless to say, that hotel did not build up any following and engaged hardly anybody in each of these posts. In social media marketing, this is a huge turn off for your audience – they turn to their Facebook, Twitter or whatever for a social experience, not to have products thrust down their throats. This way people will unlike your page or, before they even get to do that, will engage so little with your updates that they cease to see them in their newsfeed. Effective Social Media Marketing requires a much more subtle approach and you would be best advised to either learn how it works best or bring in someone who already knows.
4. ‘CAPS LOCK IS STUCK’ – Something else everyone with a personal profile to look at and who has liked a few business pages has seen. Typing out an update entirely in capital letters is the internet equivalent of shouting and it’s also hard to read. A mix of upper and lower case break up the text a little and make reading it much easier. Again, it’s a huge put off when it shows in your audience’s newsfeed or Twitter feed, so don’t be surprised if you see your follower numbers drop. Also, in Facebook keep Edgerank in mind – in simple terms, if I don’t engage with your posts on a reasonably frequent basis, Facebook determines that your posts are not of interest to me and I cease to see them.
5. ‘Everyone comes to my profile to see my updates’ – a common misconception. Actually, somewhere between 95% and 99% of your followers will not visit your profile again after their initial visit to ‘Like’ of ‘Follow’ you – and, actually, they now don’t even to have to have visited your profile to do that. Your profile is still important but your audience will (or won’t) see your updates in their feed. So, posting updates that engage them is vital to your ongoing success in social media marketing. Those using Facebook pages for business get figures showing how many of your followers see each post. Pay close attention to those figures and look into the Insights, which give you much more information. From these, you can glean which types of post work (by engaging followers and being seen by larger numbers) and which don’t. You can also glean which days and times of posting work better than others. Learn from what those figures tell you and adjust your strategy accordingly. Experiment – there are plenty of blog posts on the internet that tell you that specific days and times work best but those mostly relate to specific time zones in the U.S. and specific types of business. In honesty, there is no single answer and it very much depends on your type of business and your audience or target market.
Social Media Marketing for business is not an extension of what you do on your personal account to keep the family and friends up to date with what you and your family are doing. However, it is “social” and it is very important to remember that. The people you want to reach have come to their social network for a social experience and you have to adapt how you market to them to take that fully into consideration. You want them to engage with what you post, because that will increase your following and, crucially, lead to an ROI for you from the activity, but it cannot successfully be approached in the way that you approach marketing in other arenas. We have said it many times in this post but you should really seriously consider either employing someone expert in the field or engage a consultant to take care of this aspect of your marketing. To succeed, you have to ensure that your company’s social media marketing does not fit into any of the categories above, at any time. A good consultant has already learned most of the lessons and simply has to apply what he or she has learned to your business.