Businesses and entrepreneurs are beginning to universally recognize the importance of a strong social strategy. But there are many common mistakes that brands are still making – and you could be too.
Here are seven mistakes not to make and how to fix them today:1. Treating Social Like a Silo
When social media became popular, it was embraced by entrepreneurs and businesses who saw it as another string to their marketing bow. Today, social has become such a ubiquitous part of western life that consumers no longer see it as a standalone platform. Instead, it has become a part of modern life that is taken for granted.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses are still making is they're treating social media as a separate marketing silo or sales channel to the rest of their business.
Good social strategies see social as an important and valuable aspect of the whole business. By integrating social media with other sales, communications, and business functions, you will truly harness its power.
Fix it today: Make sure you have a strategy in place that optimizes the use of social across the whole of your business, not simply treating it as a separate silo. Support, marketing, HR, even finance — social media touches them all. Plan for a well-rounded social strategy.
2. Using Poor Visuals
Photos and videos have a huge impact on engagement and sales, especially when posted on social channels that are designed around these forms of visual media. If you’re not being visual, you’re missing a massive trick.
Depending on your brand, it might be more important for you to focus on strong images or videos, but there is likely to be a case for both. Make the most of specialist social platforms – YouTube or Vimeo for video and Instagram for photos.
Free tools such as Canva let entrepreneurs and marketing teams create strong visuals on a small budget without needing training in more expensive platforms such as Photoshop.
Fit it today: Make sure that strong visuals – including photos, video, and graphic design – features prominently throughout your social strategy.
3. Ignoring Data and Analytics
Data, both big and small, is becoming a more important part of many businesses today.
With a plethora of tools available to online businesses – from free platforms such as Google Analytics to integrated insights on social media sites like Facebook – there is no excuse not to be making the most of this data.
These insights become ever more important when recognizing the value of your own community – learning by listening. Create a monthly report pulling together all of these social analytics to see any opportunities for change and growth.
Fix it today: Cover the basics – Google Analytics and its integration with your social channels – and ensure you’re using the full reporting and insights potential of all the social platforms you’re using.
4. Failing to Listen
Social is not a one-way communications channel or sales platform.
Any good social strategy will value the relationship with its customers and online community by recognizing their input. So, make sure you’re really listening to your audience as much as you are posting, sharing, and advertising in these spaces.
Invite your audience to interact with you. Listen to what they have to say about your products and the direction of your business. It’s this two-way conversation that will ultimately lead to your success with your social strategy and turn your business into an engaging brand.
Fix it today: Are you listening to your audience? View your social strategy as an opportunity to listen to your customers and maximize the potential of this two-way communication.
Spend more time commenting, engaging, and sharing. Why not adopt the 80/20 rule?
Social media is inherently (and not surprisingly) social. This means that your strategy needs to put real human contact at its forefront. Over-automating your social strategy can hamper this, presenting a cold, impersonal front.
Over-automation mistakes can include sending out the same messages across different social platforms without tailoring the content specifically for each audience.
Using tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to automate some aspects of your social processes, including the important data and analytics we looked at above. But make use of their features to also help you keep a human face to your brand, for example by including first names drawn from your follower list.
Fix it today: Remember that social literally means social. Make sure that when you use automation in your strategies, you present a human face.
6. Not Using Social Ads
It’s fantastic that so much opportunity is available for brands to harness the power of social media for free, but there is also potential to use social platforms to reach highly targeted and engaged audiences through paid ads.
This is especially important today, when platforms like Facebook use complex algorithms to show brand page posts, and you have to pay to ensure your own fans even see your posts.
However, social advertising is great for a whole range of businesses, from online ecommerce to local independent pizza places – and they work, too. Check out any of the high-achieving businesses for sale on Exchange and you’ll see that for many of them, their highest expenses are their social ads.
Kustom: Tees Factory is a fine example of this, spending $3,000 a month on Facebook ads alone. It might seem like a high expense, but it’s worth it.
And the great thing is, you can work with whatever budget you have available. Of course, you’re likely to see better results with larger budgets, depending on the targeting you choose.
Sponsored ads on Instagram are also an option, as is YouTube’s ad network. And don’t forget about more creative paid social advertising approaches, such as working with influencers or bloggers.
Fix it today: Review your PPC advertising across social channels and make the most of the highly engaged targeting. Think outside the box too – there are many sponsored social ad opportunities to be creative with.
7. Lacking a Crisis Communications Plan
Social media isn’t all plain sailing, no matter how big your YouTube following is or how many positive TripAdvisor reviews you have. In its nature, social media represents large audiences and diverse communities, but it comes down to communication at a personal level.
Sometimes, brands get it wrong. Social media disasters often pop up in the news, not just on online marketing blogs where entrepreneurs are keen to learn from others’ mistakes, but also in mainstream news. It’s something that everyone should (rightly) be cautious about.
No matter how big or small your business, it’s safe to assume you’ll experience a social disaster at some point – perhaps you already have. The key to managing this is to create a crisis communications plan that takes all aspects of your social strategy into account.
When disaster strikes, your business will be prepared to deal with this ever-increasing occurrence, which should be nothing more than a normal business risk if handled correctly. In the meantime, it might make you a little more confident to use social platforms knowing you’ll be able to deal with anything that arises.
Fit it today: Do you have a crisis communications plan? Make sure you do, and you’ll know how to respond via all of your social platforms should the worst-case scenario occur.
As our consumer society continues down its digital pathway, strong social strategies will become more important for businesses looking to harness the potential of the online space.
But as business efforts in this area grow, so do their mistakes. From silos to over-automation, take heed of the warnings above not only to avoid these common mistakes, but to make the most of the real opportunities they present.
Victoria Greene is a writer and digital brand consultant. She writes at Victoriaecommerce and is a big fan of ethical business. It’s a great way to create profits and purpose at the same time.