Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to expose your business to a huge audience. Most businesses know that, but few actually excel at using social media marketing the right way. This is the topic we're going to explore on this week's Virtual CMO podcast. In our Marketing Mondays series on "Common Marketing Mistakes," we're going to focus on the challenges of Social Media Marketing.
Many small and midsize companies look at social media as a side project, a job someone can do during their spare time or a task assigned to a junior-level employee. It's not unusual to see companies hire recent college graduates to manage their social media outreach. In some ways, the logic makes sense. Younger people are often intimately familiar with social media platforms and personally create content. The problem is that being an engaged social media user might provide valuable platform experience. But that doesn't mean they understand how to build a social media marketing strategy or content that addresses specific business goals and objectives. They can end up blanketing your followers with content that does little to increase brand awareness or sales.
Businesses use social media in a multitude of ways in an attempt to deliver measurable results in brand awareness, education, and lead generation. The goal is to use these platforms to connect with your audience. It helps build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. By publishing on social media platforms, your objective is to engage an audience, gain new followers, get viewers to share your content, and create new leads. It's all about engagement and it's an important part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Platforms & Statistics
- In the first quarter of 2019, there are 3.48 billion social media users in the world. It accounts for 42% of the world's population. Around 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media. So, 70% of marketers believe that social media marketing is effective.
- There are over 2.41 billion monthly active users of Facebook as of June 2019. More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook pages to connect with customers.
- Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users as of September 2019. 83% of these users discover new products and services on the platform. And 80% noted that it influences their buying decision.
- Twitter has 330 million monthly active users on the 1st quarter of 2019. Four out of ten Twitter users buy a product after seeing it on the platform.
The reach of these platforms is exactly why they're so valuable to marketers. When used correctly, they allow businesses to reach targeted audiences effectively and at a low cost. But these platforms are businesses too and they're in business to make money. What used to be easy on social media is becoming increasingly difficult as the major players look to move business to more paid content. Effective, paid advertising gets expensive quickly. Many businesses have made the mistake of attempting a Facebook advertising campaign only to see their budgets quickly burned through without any meaningful results. It's not something for the weak of heart. It takes persistence and skill to understand how to best leverage these platforms.
Not Setting goals that address your biggest challenges
You first need to figure out what you want to achieve. Before you create content, what is the goal of your social media efforts? Do you have content to support those efforts? What actions are you wanting to see as the result of your posts?
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase leads or direct sales
- Create opportunities for your salesforce
- Educate the audience
- Create a loyal fanbase
- Become a thought leader
A combination of these goals can help you better understand which platform to focus on. We recommend you keep it simple instead of having too many objectives. Make sure that you align this social media strategy with your business goals. Social media should be done in support of your overall marketing plan. Don't just it to create noise. Always be asking if what your posting is in service to one of your objectives. If not, it's just noise.
Not Researching your audience
Know your audience demographics and what is the most appropriate social media platform to reach them. It's critical to create content that they will like, comment, and share. Creating a buyer persona is a good way to help refine your target audience. Don't make the mistake of trying to communicate too broadly. Engagement will suffer and the audience you want to reach won't respond. Getting engagement from the wrong audience might help your statistics but won't help you achieve your goals. Take the time to really understand your audience and experiment with content to see what proves most effective at reaching them.
Building followers is important because these are "fans" who want to see your content. Use status updates or photos to share your products, offers, and services. Hashtags can reach a wider audience, not only your followers. Use them to help attract a new audience. This can be especially effective when creating content that's timely with events in the news or hot topics. Hashtags can help relevant content get found but make sure you don't overdue it and the tags you use match the content you post.
Not Establishing metrics
Social media marketing should be data-driven. Without defined metrics, it's difficult to see if your campaigns are effective. While likes and followers are one measure, how much traffic is flowing back to your website? Did social media lead to any new sales? Has it increased your email list? What determines the metrics to track are your social media goals. Here are some examples of important metrics:
- Reach - the number of unique users who saw your post and how far
your content spread
- Clicks - clicks on your content, company name, or logo. They show
how users move through your marketing funnel
- Engagement - the total social interactions divided by the number
of impressions. It's about seeing interactions out of your total reach
- Hashtag performance - the most used hashtags, most associated
with your brand, or hashtags that created the most engagement
- Organic and paid likes - likes from paid or organic content
- Sentiment - how users reacted to your content, brand, or hashtags
- Referrals - how many visitors are you getting to your website from your posts
Not Researching the competition
You should have a good idea of your competitors. Are they on social media? If so, what are they saying? You need to adapt your campaign to reflect the realities of the competitive landscape. A competitive analysis helps you discover opportunities. A competitor might be dominant in Facebook but put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You can then focus on these platforms, which provides space for you to stand out. Another way to keep an eye on your competitors is social listening. Watch their feeds, see what posts are getting traction with an audience and if there's interaction that provides additional insights. Something in the comments may provide an opportunity for you to create new content.
Not Creating engaging, Platform-Specific content
Content is king and it's important that your content be appealing and engaging. Don't be afraid to experiment. Try new colors, fonts, styles, themes. Add in video, try offers or collecting leads directly through the platforms. There are many variations to create engaging content:
- Use visuals like photos, infographics, and video
- Publish thought-provoking facts
- Link content to something timely
- Ask a question
- Host contests or surveys
- Share testimonials and reviews
- Quote messages of influencers or bloggers
It's also a big mistake to create content and post it the same everywhere. Each platform has unique requirements for text length, image sizes, hashtags, etc. Make sure each post is optimized for every platform. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite help ensure each post works correctly but it's all too common to see content posted that's not optimized. Make sure you verify your posts and correct any mistakes. People aren't going to engage with content that doesn't display properly.
Not Making Timely Engagement a Top Priority
Social media marketing doesn't stop with posting content. It's about engagement with your audience. Through social media, you can gain trust and respect by being present. Be ready to answer questions or inquiries on post or tweets. Follow back or acknowledge new followers. Your presence is an opportunity to keep them interested and engaged.
Not taking the Time to Assess What's Working and What's Not
You need to actively track your social media marketing results and make adjustments as required. Don't get so far ahead with your queue of posts that you can't make adjustments based on what's working. Leverage news cycles and hot topics to keep your posts relevant. Social media is ever-changing, so, you need to make sure your strategy is keeping up with current trends. Evaluate your top-performing content to fine-tune your campaign.
Social media platforms are an amazing resource that can make a real impact on your marketing results. Understand what works and what doesn't. Know your audience and create compelling content that's narrowly focused on reaching your target persona. Stay engaged with your audience and pay attention to feedback. Watch for trends and news that you can incorporate into posts to keep them relevant and timely. Finally, make sure you're tracking results to validate that your campaigns are achieving the goals and objectives of your marketing strategy.