There is a lot written about social media and how it can benefit a company’s marketing efforts and there are many books and articles telling you what to do to achieve success in social media marketing. I thought that I would give you an insight into five things that can lead to failure in social media.
1. One Post Fits All
This is where you send the same post out across various social media platforms. While this will undoubtedly save you a few seconds in time does it also cost you in a lack of engagement as a result? I will assume that the post I am talking about is being posted to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all at the same time. Each platform has its own limit in how many characters a post or update can use. If you are posting for Facebook you can technically use in excess of 60 000 characters, though I have never tested this. Twitter on the other hand is limited to 140 characters. You could go for the lowest common denominator and post for Twitter so that the same post fits all three networks, but is this really the way to market your company? Are you missing an opportunity to enhance your posts by giving more detail on Facebook? Facebook users are used to longer posts than those on Twitter and you could potentially give a lot more detail to those that have liked your Facebook page about your brand or products.
I also think that when a user realises that the brand that they are following is posting primarily for another a network it is almost as though the brand is saying “we’re not really interested in you, you’re more of an after-thought than a valued member of our community”. How can you tell when a brand is posting for another platform? If you are on Facebook and you see that the brands updates have a little Twitter logo by them then you know they were originally shared on Twitter. Equally if the links on Twitter are always fb.me/… then you know that they came from Facebook eventually.
Tailor your content for your audience. Take advantage of the features that each social media platform offers to help enrich the experience that those that have chosen to connect with you deserve.
2. Not Understanding The Difference Between Social Networks
This follows on from one post fits all and it is where a company creates accounts on a variety of networks because they think that by doing so they will get more response. The reality is that you need to know where your customers are when they are online and then try to engage with them on their own terms. I often see B2B businesses that have links on their company homepage to a Facebook business page. These Facebook pages often have under 20 likes and I suspect at least half of these are from company employees. People use Facebook for personal purposes, to share updates, photos and videos with their friends and family. They are usually using Facebook when they have finished work. It is a social pastime rather than a business tool. So if you are a company that provides document shredding and disposal for other companies you should not be surprised if your Facebook page has only a couple of dozen likes.
LinkedIn is the place to be if you are offering a B2B service, this is the network where people who have clout within organisations can be found and contacted. I am not saying that if you have a business that primarily sells to the public that you should not be on LinkedIn, it can still be very useful to help you source contacts that may be able to help grow your business or provide services to you that can help to improve your bottom line all I am saying is if you operate niche clothing store then your update on LinkedIn saying that there will be a sale with 20% off everything this weekend is likely to be met by a deafening silence.
Most social media channels now have many features that can be of use to a business user and that you may not be aware of but there are lots of quick starter guides online and in print that can give you a good handle on how you can best utilise them so take a little bit of time and figure out where your efforts and energies are put to best use.
3. Dealing/Not Dealing With Criticism
At some point your brand is likely to pick up some form of criticism through the social media channels that you are using when an angry customer decides to complain about your company in a very public way. You can delete the offending post, this will hide the problem temporarily but is likely to lead to another, even angrier post, from the complainant. You could also block them from your page if the comments are being posted on your Facebook page but this will only hide the problem not deal with it as the person will then to start to post on their own timeline how terrible your service has been and this will probably engender a lot of sympathy for the complainant from others.
The only thing worse than deleting a post is to argue with the person who has posted the complaint. This will make you look unprofessional in the eyes of others that view the conversation. You are unlikely to “win” this type of argument because the complainant will feel humiliated and it is likely that they will be seen by others as the victim, not necessarily of poor service, but of bullying by a larger organisation.
Your best course of action is to engage with the complainant and ask them to email you so that the matter can be looked into more fully so that a resolution that everybody is happy with can be achieved. This will show others that you care about your customers and at the same time you have started to offer a solution to the complainant so that if they continue their complaint online then they will appear to be bigoted and not prepared to meet you half way, which is likely to lead to non-partizan third parties now viewing the complainant as being out of order.
4. Lack of Planning
I am used to speaking with business owners in many sectors who tell me that they have tried social media but not found it to be of any use to their organisation. There can be a multitude of reasons for this but one of the main ones is consistency. The company decides that it will take the plunge and try social media, so with no proper research they set up a number of profiles on a variety of platforms and then start posting and tweeting away like a bull in a china shop. A couple of weeks later when they have not seen their turnover double they start to lose interest by the end of the month they are posting a couple of times a week and another month later they have effectively stopped posting anything.
The question that many businesses fail to ask is why would somebody want to interact with us online? You need to find your own handle on this to make your content interesting so that users will want to interact with you. Just posting that you have a sale on is not enough. You love your company and everything that it stands for but others do not. You have to give them a reason to love you and you need to find a way to make your content stand out from the almost unlimited amount of information that is being posted every minute. Think about what motivates your customers, what do they want from you and how can you provide quality content that they will want to like and share with others. Create a content management strategy for your company and try to prepare things well in advance of when you will need them. Right now you should be looking at preparing your campaigns for Christmas, what offers will you have on? How you intend to drive traffic to your site, what mediums you can use to get your message across as the old maxim goes “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”.
5. Not Analysing Your Data
Most social media platforms provide their users with some sort of analytics package that will allow you to see what kind of content proves to be most popular. If you do not look at this data then you will find that you expend time and resources providing content that people have no interest in. By ananlysing your data you can find out:
- the type of material that is most popular (links, videos, photo’s etc)
- the time of day when it is most beneficial to post
- the platforms that generate the most interest
These pieces of information will help you to refine your content strategy and then provide more compelling content for your users.
Social media is no longer the new kid on the block, companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can rightly be judged to be Internet giants. There is no magic formula that will guarantee you success in social media but by avoiding the pitfalls I have mentioned in this article you will hopefully be able to increase your chances of success!