Social media empowers marketers to distribute their content to a global audience. When utilized as part of an integrated inbound marketing campaign, social media can drive website traffic, improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO), engage current and prospective customers, generate sales leads and much more. However, results aren't guaranteed — successful social marketing requires a well formulated strategy.
Inbound marketing involves the creation and promotion of strategic content and offers intended to drive website traffic, generate leads and increase sales. Social media is essential to this process. Through social media, marketers can promote their content to the world, achieving high levels of visibility without investing much, if anything, beyond time and skill.
Additionally, social media can help you unearth powerful insights about your current and prospective customers, which you can use to refine your buyer personas. By monitoring the content your social connections engage with, what questions and / or comments they post and what action(s) they take on your site after viewing your content, you can learn a great deal about what interests them, what their needs are and how you can market to them more effectively.
The Downside to Social Media
Like any marketing tactic, social media isn't free of dangers. In fact, using social media the wrong way can do more harm to your business than not participating at all. That's why it's vital for marketers to approach social media with a sound strategy — otherwise the results may be disastrous.
Below are some of the most common mistakes marketers make on social media:
Posting too often
When deciding when - and how often - to post on social media, it’s important to first evaluate the social networks you plan to post on. A little research can go a long way. For example, you may want to Google "how often to post to Facebook" or "best times to Tweet." The Internet is loaded with helpful articles and case studies put together by experienced social marketers, which you can use to refine your strategy.
At the end of the day, your goal should be to post often enough to remain top-of-mind among your followers, but not so frequently that your content starts to look like spam. Additionally, when you post can be as important as how often you post. Scheduling content throughout the day will increase the likelihood of it showing up in your followers' feed when they decide to check their social profiles.
Images are critical to engagement rates on social media. Images and video clips visually entice users, making them more likely to share your content. Additionally, attention-grabbing visuals make your content stand out from plain text posts.
If your social strategy doesn’t involve leveraging graphics to help promote your content, chances are you're missing opportunities. Examples of visuals that can help make your social content stand out are: a relevant photo take by you or a member of your team, an infographic, a high quality stock photo, an inspirational quote you found online (giving credit to the source, of course) — the possibilities are virtually endless. The key is simply to make your content visually fun and interesting!
Assuming you know everything about your target audience
Assuming you know your target audience won't get you very far in the social media world. Do some research and find out who your followers are and what they like. Once you're confident you know what makes your followers tick, show them by sharing content that feels like you created it with them in mind.
Additionally, make sure your company is well represented on the social media sites your followers use most. After all, if your target audience prefers Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, investing your time and energy into Twitter will be nothing more than a waste of time, energy and resources.
Failing to commit long-term
Social media is a long-term commitment. If your social marketing strategy is to gain as much as you can from your followers in the shortest amount of time - without providing equal or greater value in return - you're not going to like the end result.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is creating various social profiles without putting any thought into how they plan to use those networks, or why — only to abandon them 6 months down the road. Customers notice when companies don't take social media seriously, and they're not likely to give their business to a company they feel isn't willing to put forth the effort to engage them on social media.
If you want to be successful on social media, you have to fully commit!
Ignoring or deleting every negative comment
One of the most common misconceptions we hear about social marketing is this: "If my company gets on social media, people are going to talk bad about us." News flash — people are already talking bad about you online. The only thing you're doing by refusing to participate on social media is giving up the power to use customer service to transform naysayers into raving fans.
And while it's usually easier to reply to / reward positive public feedback, addressing negative comments should be your top priority. Doing so will give you valuable insights on how you can improve your products or services. Plus, it will demonstrate to your followers that you listen to and value their input.
Having said that, there are times when it's appropriate to hide and / or delete negative comments posted to your company's social profiles. There's no place on social media for hate, racism, sexism, discrimination, threats, bullying or any other form of harassment. Having a social media response policy in place will help you determine the best way to handle different kinds of negativity, as well as when it's appropriate to block (and potentially even report) repeat offenders.
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