How have your social media efforts trended? For most it has not been a positive experience. This article delves into the many imperfections of social media and why it works or doesn’t. Social media needs to be highly targeted and focused to succeed, and most treat it like a clip and paste exercise that does not present the knowledge and skills of the posting parties. We are all pressed for time, and do what we have to in our jobs, but social media requires real attention to detail and that requires time and effort.
Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail
You do know that social media is important for your success online, right? Of course you do. It’s the 21st Century and pretty much everyone has some sort of social media account. Well, at least 73% of adults do. But just because you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest doesn’t guarantee success. Even if you have a decent amount of fans, likes, or followers, it doesn’t mean that your social media strategy is working. If you’re not generating conversations or new subscribers, or making any money, then whatever you’re doing has failed.
Establishing a social media strategy is more than just posting an update informing people that a new product or service is on sale. It’s more than just sharing a piece of relevant information. A social media strategy is a success when you are able to engage and interact with your target audience.
If that’s simple, then why do so many social strategiesfail? Chances are that they’ve committed one of the following mistakes. But, don’t worry. These are mistakes that should be easy to correct.
Values Don’t Match
You’ve obviously created a list of core values for your business. If not, how else can you explain to others the purpose of your business? Because you have already established a mission statement, goals, deadlines, and a brand image, setting up a social media strategy should fall into place. At least in this area.
Everything that you do, or want to accomplish, on social media should be based on the values of your business. This not only guides your content and business objectives on social media outlets, but it can also generate some buzz about your brand, since you’ve also already identified your target audience and are aware of their wants and needs.
So, if you open a restaurant that serves only organic items, explain your reasons for opening up that business to potential customers. You’re not doing this because it’s a trendy business right now. You’re doing this because people aren’t eating healthy and you want to change that, at least in your neck of the woods. Share content that explains why organic food is healthy for locals and what your menu has to offer your neighbors.
What’s the point in creating something awesome if no one is going to check it out?
A social media campaign demands consistency. We’re not just talking about quality and useful information for your audience, either. We’re talking about frequently sharing that valuable content. But, how much and when do you update statuses?
Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer here. It depends on your business and customers. This is where a little bit of research can come in handy, like searching for important people in a social network’s search tool. You could also use a tool like SocialBro orhashtags.org to find out some more information on your audience, like what topics are trending
You also want to know when do they go on social media outlets. For example, you could send out about 14 tweets per day, from midnight to 10pm. They just have to be spread out during the day so that your followers’ accounts aren’t flooded. The reason why you want to post throughout the day is in case if you have a global audience, which is why you could schedule posts at 2 a.m.
To make sure that you remain consistent, try using a tool that schedules and hosts all of your accounts in one place, like HootSuite, Buffer, or SproutSocial. I personally like Buffer. And it wouldn’t hurt to create an editorial calendar, which you can do on a program like Excel. An editorial calendar keeps you organized and directed since it contains a deadline, target keywords, the format of the content, call to action, and status. And it has the ability to double your ROI.
Misunderstanding How Social Media Really Works
Here’s a common mistake: not understanding that all social media outlets are different. For example, Facebook is great because it’s the most frequently used social media service and it’s the most trustworthy. But, it may not fit your business.
Prominent social media strategist Bob Mangat says, “I think social media is an extremely effective tool, but a lot of people who say it doesn’t work, I think, are not using it right. People are not focused on where their market is. Before starting anything online, you need to have a strategy down pat to go after your target market. By spending time identifying target audience, crafting a message, and choosing the correct outlet, you can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by doing it this way. A lot of people who fail using social media, I bet, are not spending enough time on strategy.”
Going back to the organic restaurant example, that business should focus on a more image-based platform like Instagram or Pinterest because that’s where foodies go to share and engage. But, a law firm wouldn’t really benefit from being on Pinterest. That audience isn’t there because they don’t want to look at images of a law office; they want information on how they can be helped. A final example would be not targeting baby boomers on social media, despite the fact that they’re the fastest growing group on social media.
Again, it’s discovering who your audience is and where they spend most of their time. Doing this ahead of time will determine where you should focus your social media efforts. And it doesn’t take much time either. You could begin by checking out stats, like from Pew Research, that break down the demographics of each social network. Or, simply ask current customers. Just spend the extra time in understanding which network is most effective in reaching your audience.
Not Providing Anything Different
Content. Content. Content. That’s all you keep hearing about when it comes to a social media strategy. And that’s because it’s a major part of your campaign. But, if everyone else is creating and sharing content, why should people like, share, or comment on your content if it’s the same as everyone else’s?
When coming up with ideas, try and develop ones that are unique. At the very least, your ideas should be tailored to your audience. What we mean by that is putting a spin on your particular content. For example, that organic restaurant we’ve kept talking about wants to create an article like “The 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Organic Food.” Sure, that gets to the point and works for that business, but it’s been done many times before. Instead, narrow that topic down to something like “The 10 Reasons New Yorkers Should Eat Organic Food”. It’s the same idea, but it now focuses on the people where the restaurant is actually located. This is more beneficial than paying someone to write or create content that has already been done hundreds, even thousands, of times before.
If you need some ideas, we suggest that you read this article from Search Engine Journal for blog ideas.
Shouting, Not Listening
While you’re on social media to push or promote a product or service, you can’t do that all of the time. People will tune you out if all you’re doing is throwing out sales pitches. Why? Because that’s not the point of social media. It’s about conversations and engagement.
Instead of just shouting at your audience, take the time to actually listen to them. This could be as easy as asking for feedback or sharing their thoughts on a piece of content that you shared. When you actually listen to your audience on social media, you’ll get a better understanding of what they liked and disliked, as well as the information that they would like to see.
When you understand your audience, you can produce content that they would actually want to read and share. That’s a better option than wasting resources on content that your audience doesn’t respond to.
Lack of Monitoring and Measuring
What all of the previous example boil down to, however, is monitoring and measuring your social media outlets. Even if you have identified your audience and the right network to deliver your message, you still need to keep tabs on how effective your content has been.
For example, you realize that Facebook is the best network for your brand. But, how well is your Facebook campaign doing? How many likes or shares is your content receiving? Are people leaving comments? Are you making any money or new subscribers because of your awesome Facebook content? These are important questions that need to be answered. If not, you’re continuing to create and promote content that isn’t triggering a response from your audience. And that’s just a waste of time and money.
The best way to discover this information is through the use of tools likeHootSuite, Klout, Social Mention, Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights orKeyhole. Not only will these tools measure your social media success, but they will also increase your ROI. And did we mention that they are all free?