Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this commentary on social media mistakes are the author’s alone. Dave Alexander is CEO of the nationally ranked, Overland Park-based digital marketing agency Social: Managed.
Social media users don’t want to know more about your company — they want to know how your business can help them. But first, you have to break through the noise of a crowded space and your own potentially poor messaging.
As a serial entrepreneur and marketing professional, my career has been leading local startups from ideas to millions in revenue. It’s where I found my calling in life. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot — with perhaps the biggest lessons gleaned from using social media the wrong way.
My story is like many of yours: When I first embraced social media, I made about every mistake in the book.
Check out these common social media pitfalls we saw — and continue to see our prospects making every day in Kansas City and beyond:
Pitfall No. 1 — Assuming a driver’s license makes you a mechanic
Do not push social media to the 22-year-old intern you just hired. Just because they are young and use social media doesn’t mean they know how to market your company on it. Marketing is a strategic activity that requires a plan and knowledge of your industry. Your company needs someone who understands what your prospects are looking for and posts insightful information about trends in your industry. You may as well ask them to change out the transmission in your truck. They can try, but they might cause lasting harm along the way.
Pitfall No. 2 — Unintended Consequences
You invited all your friends and family, and you worked hard to get all your customers to follow you on your social media networks. Six months have passed and you are excited to see the fruits of your labor.
What you find is disappointing. Your monthly impression numbers are getting worse each month while your follower numbers are on the rise! What is going on?
Most social media networks have a proprietary algorithm, and one of its functions is to measure user activity to optimize the user experience. Ultimately, it chooses out of the all the posts which posts you see.
If your posts were not engaging, you unintentionally trained the algorithm to skip your posts. If this happens, it is tough to get your posts back into the user’s social media feed.
Pitfall No. 3 — Putting your want over a prospect’s want
One easy way to avoid unintended consequences? Answer this:
“Why would someone want to follow my company?”
When you look at most startups’ social media messaging, you typically see content about what they offer. From the owners’ perspective, it is understandable. Your company joined social media to increase sales. The problem is that no one wants to follow a page that provides zero value to their life and only focuses on a sales pitch.
Instead, target your posts toward becoming an industry leader and a place where your followers can receive the latest information about trends and topics in your industry. Become the authority, and the sales will follow.
Pitfall No. 4 — Prioritizing quantity over value
Don’t join every social network because you can. It is incredibly time-consuming to post strategic content on social media. Become an expert on one or two platforms. Research the demographics and choose the ones that match best first.
Pitfall No. 5 — Becoming a midnight poster
As a startup it is likely you are being pulled in different directions throughout the day, and social media is the last thing on your mind. There are great, inexpensive tools online that will allow you to create the content at midnight and schedule them to post throughout the month.
Pitfall No. 6 — Ignoring your followers
You have grown your audience, and posts are scheduled. Now the real work starts. When someone comments on your posts, you have to reply. The faster your response, the better, but always make sure it is within a few business hours. Meaning you can’t just schedule your posts for the month and walk away. You have to engage with those who engage with you!
Pitfall No. 7 — Going cheap on visuals
Invest in high-quality photography at first and when you have enough revenue, invest in video. The images you post will reflect directly on the quality of your brand. It doesn’t matter if you have products or services, invest in the visuals that will strengthen your brand identity.
Pitfall No. 8 — Failing to let data be your guide
Every social media platform has metrics that you can pull to view your demographics, engagement, clicks, and much more. Discover what posts do well and those that don’t, and make changes by seeing what time your followers are online for each day of the week.