Prior to launching a social media marketing campaign, you need to outline clear objectives. Are you aiming to increase followers? Build a community? Optimize content marketing distribution? The key to having a successful social media presence for your business is developing a digital strategy. Without this, you are basically throwing things against a wall—no pun intended—and hoping something sticks.
Your social media channels are the most front-facing part of your company. Whereas you used to have to buy ad spots, now you can post content, surpassing traditional media gatekeepers and directly controlling the message. But to do so effectively, you can’t cut corners. If large, successful companies have poor social media channels, they can appear mismanaged. On the flip side, small companies with great social can develop cult followings. If you make a misstep or don’t invest in a strategy, followers will doubt your authenticity and authority. If you want your business to shine on social media, avoid making these 10 mistakes.
1) Your graphics are amateur. Are your photos high resolution or are they out of focus? Are they creative or generic? Does your Instagram grid have a cohesive identity or does it have poorly lit photos with text overlay saved as a screenshot in Microsoft Word? Social media sites are visual, so having great graphics is half the battle.
2) Your messaging is generic. Can anyone in your industry post the same content you are posting? Or do your posts have an angle? There are companies that sell stock social media imagery and posts. Could your posts be seen as interchangeable with this content or are they unique? If your content could be used on any other practitioners Facebook page in your industry, then what you are paying for is worthless. Social media requires hours of planning, graphic creation, boosting of posts, A/B testing and long form content creation. If what you are posting could be posted by anyone else, don’t bother. Until you’ve identified the overall message you want to convey, you shouldn’t be posting.
3) Your brand identity is misaligned. Do your posts follow core brand guidelines? Do you have a clear idea of what is on-brand versus off-brand? So many companies with beautiful branding completely ruin it when they hand the keys to a new, inexperienced social media manager. There needs to be a cohesive strategy that unites traditional and digital branding.
4) You lack a clear social strategy. Are you trying to be everything to everyone? Are you hopping on Snapchat even though your core demographic is females age 60 and over? Instead of trying to be on every social platform, pick the ones that your target demographic uses. Use your resources wisely to target your customer more effectively.
5) Your office manager is running your social media. This is the most common mistake small business owners make. They want to save money, so they hand over the keys to anyone under 30 that already works for them. Let me be clear: Social media is a real job. The skill set required to be an effective community manager includes impeccable writing skills, image creation abilities and strategic vision. Would you trust the office manager to build a new website for you? No. So why would you trust them to essentially build a micro site for you on social media?
6) You post too often. Do not post for the sake of posting. Once you have laid out your goals, you need to reverse engineer a social media strategy. Sometimes less is more. On social media, that is the case now more than ever before. When I originally launched Ruby Media Group, a PR and social media agency, clients wanted daily posting on social media. Now clients want three to five posts per week.
7) You don’t add editorial commentary. This isn’t 2009. It is not enough to post an article link and say that your social media account was updated for the day. Social media requires meaningful effort. You can’t just wing it. Plan out your content with editorial calendars and content planning. If you are going to share something, you need to add to the conversation. In terms of content mix, it should be 40 percent engagement (thought leadership), 35 percent news and updates, and 25 percent offers. For many small business owners, their Facebook page comes up as the third result on a Google search. Facebook pages are often updated much more frequently than your company web site, so every post should demonstrate your thought leadership. You need less generic content and more authentic content specific to your brand’s value proposition. Think of your company as a media publisher. To get some inspiration, look up your favorite magazines’ Facebook pages to see the tonality they use to create engagement with fans. They don’t just curate content, they add in brand perspective and original commentary.
8) You don’t use hashtags properly. The majority of business owners misuse hashtags. The goal of hashtags is to be found by prospects—not by others within your industry. For example, if you are a surgeon in Manhattan, using hashtags such as #NYCSurgeon or #topdoctor helps others within your industry find you, but new prospects who are researching health issues won’t find you. Think about the hashtags that make the most sense for your prospects versus for your own industry. Also, hide the hashtags in the comment section instead of including all of them in the caption. It looks better aesthetically.
9) You aren’t using Facebook advertising. Facebook changed the game in terms of organic reach. If you are looking to build a business page on Facebook, it is very difficult to do so without advertising or boosting posts. Boosting posts should be only a small component of the ad campaign. The majority of your business’ resources allocated to social media should go towards running regular ad traffic to get more people to your page. Cater these posts towards your target audience. Assuming that people will magically find your Facebook page is unrealistic. In the initial stages, you need to use a solid ad campaign to give your page a boost.
10) You aren’t playing to your strengths. Social media is the place to show off your strengths. If you are great on video but not at writing, then Facebook live and Youtube should be a central part of your marketing strategy. If you are great with graphics but not with writing, Instagram makes more sense for your business. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. It is painfully obvious on social media and dilutes your brand equity. It’s better to have two great channels than five mediocre ones.
Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com