10 Common Mistakes with Social Media

February 17, 20120 Comments
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Often with social media, brands and businesses think they can just jump in and get going. I mean how hard can it be? Often the results are less than favourable, with users either breaking core guidelines of the marketing platform they choose, or worse still ending up with a PR disaster that can’t be erased from the web. Here are the top 10 mistakes with social media that we’ve seen organisations make.

1) Setting up the platform(s) incorrectly.

There are often technical rights and wrongs with many of the social platforms which exist on the web today. For example. Facebook offer ‘brand pages’ and ‘personal profiles’ to control spam, and prevent abuse inside their network.

Unfortunately many organisations fail to realise this, and often select the wrong options when setting up their profiles, with the end result being, at best inherent limitations, or at worst a ban of that brand from Facebook entirely.

Limitations include:  The number of ‘fans’ a business can have. ‘Brand pages’ have no limitation, ‘Personal Profiles’ have a limit of 3000 friends. Other limitations include no ‘widget’ support for personal profiles (a feature Facebook provide showcasing fans).

2) All push no interaction

Social platforms work best when brands weave themselves into the existing conversations which are happening out there on the web. There’s absolutely no point in just pumping out your blog posts, or new content daily into the echo chamber. This is the age of pull versus push. Offer solutions to people’s problems by listening and monitoring for key phrases related to your brand, and offering solutions via your content.

3) Failing to suitably project your brand voice

People respond to people, so being authentic in your marketing message is imperative. With social media, the micro content ecosystem which exists inside these networks presents an opportunity to project your brand values. You are what you share online, but the way you say it says something about your brand. Is your brand slightly edgy? Or upbeat and friendly? Let your message reflect those brand values and voice.

4) Expecting instant success

Building an audience online is hard. (Like climbing Everest hard). Yet marketers expect instant results from social media efforts. You can’t expect to spend one week on Facebook, and grow an audience of over 10,000 people – it simply isn’t going to happen.

The more your own brand grows in stature on these networks, the more rewarding social media marketing will become. The more interaction you receive, ultimately the more natural, organic social traffic and success you will be able to bring to your project.

5) Obsessing over fan / follower numbers

Success at social media can’t be measured by simply counting how many fans you have versus the competition. Engagement is where it’s at.

Social networks such as Facebook can determined the quality of the content you produce by examining sharing statistics, and how engaged your audience are.  Inside Facebook, this algorithm is known as ‘Edgerank’.

In simple terms, this algorithm is used to prevent the stream from getting clogged with rubbish. Therefore, the higher the quality of your content, the higher the percentage of your fans that will see it.

Aim to organically grow your fan base, by sharing information which will be re-shared and liked by others. It’s far better to have a highly engaged audience who will spread your message far and wide, than a massive audience who don’t respond to anything.

6) Me. Me. Me Marketing

Another common mistake made by brands, is failing to provide variety in the message and content that they produce. No one wants to be spammed with your content 24/7, that’s not what they signed up for. Learn to emote your brand values through other finely curated content you find useful from around the web will gain you much more respect and interaction from your audience.

7) Failure to prepare for consumer questions

Often social media provides a simple channel for people to communicate with you – in many cases it’s a 24/7 helpdesk that the web community will expect you to man.  One of the easiest ways to create a PR nightmare for yourself is to forget to prepare for the inevitable questions that you will receive, or worse still, ignore them completely.

If you have a number of different people looking after a single social media account, it is especially important to maintain notes about any previous questions asked, or on-going support issues.

8) Trying to control or stifle the conversation

Traditional organisations and brands typically struggle with the new shift in the marketing message that social media brings. There’s no such thing as deleting information from the web anymore – once you say something, it’s out there for the world to see.

In many cases attempting to revert your misdoings can result in the amplification of the original content (known as the Streisand effect).

Best practise advice is to not say anything in the first place, and if you receive negative criticism, take it on the chin, and defend your position with dignity. Jumping in with both feet first is not the best way to enamour an audience.

9) Failing to measure success

Marketing without measurement is dead. You should know after one week which platform is working the best for you and why by measuring via your website analytics exactly which social platform resulted in the most goal completions. (Whatever you’ve defined that to be).

You should also measure interaction both on and off your website, which gives you some insight into which platform is building your brand engagement.

10) Failing to understand your audience

You need to get up close and personal with your audience to understand exactly how and why they are using social platforms. You have to take the time to really understand how your customers connect with each other online, and how you can add value to existing conversations. Only then will you be truly able to connect with and identify with them.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

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