Over 2.6 billion people currently use at least one social media platform. By 2021, that number is expected to increase 15 percent to over 3 billion people.
Social media marketing is a powerful tool for marketers to connect their online audience. Given the rich data businesses have access to thanks to social media networks, targeting ideal customers has never been simpler. LinkedIn offers rich employment data, Facebook and Instagram provide marketers with detailed demographic information and Snapchat makes it easy for marketers to share geographically targeted ads.
Many brands have built successful businesses thanks to social media. Many others have struggled without connect with their target audience online, often because they make one or more os this 10 costly social media marketing mistakes.
1. Committing to too many platforms.
Becoming an expert requires practice and focus. This is true for most marketing activities, including social media marketing. Businesses with small marketing teams should avoid committing to too many social media platforms, and should instead dive deeply into one or two platforms that are well aligned with their business goals.
On Facebook alone, 300 million photos are uploaded per day. Every 60 seconds, 510,000 comments are posted and over 100,000 statuses are updated. Social media marketing requires platform-specific expertise to cut through the considerable noise. However, acquiring this expertise requires time and focus.
By carefully selecting the right social media platforms, even small marketing teams will be able to develop the necessary skills to optimize a handful of key platforms.
2. Neglecting loyal followers.
In his famous TED Talk about how movements get started, Derek Sivers showed that movements are started by the first loyal followers and not necessarily by passionate leaders. Passionate followers help to recruit new followers, and give those new followers reassurance that the movement is valuable.
Similarly, brands should remember to embrace loyal social media followers. If a handful of people are consistently engaging with content, and especially if they are re-sharing it, they should be rewarded. Send them shout-outs on social media or mail them a special thank you gift to encourage them to provide ongoing support.
Related: 10 Tips for More Instagram Followers
3. Copying the voice of other brands.
While it might be tempting to simply copy the social media strategy of an existing brand, social media marketers should resist the urge to copy another company’s brand voice. Social media platforms are designed to present users with novel and unexpected content, which is what keeps users engaged.
The psychological principles of social media networks mean that users are expecting variations in content and in voice. Brands that have created a unique voice online will naturally garner more followers and better engagement than brands that simply follow the herd.
Slack is a good example of a company that has worked diligently to create a unique social media voice. As a result, the company has amassed 311,000 highly engaged followers on Twitter alone. Compare this to Yammer, a competing product with a less compelling social media voice. Yammer has 78 percent fewer followers. In part, this is because Yammer has not created a clear brand voice online.
4. Ignoring the data.
Modern marketing is a data-driven profession. This is true for both website optimization and social media marketing. It is important for social media managers to collect and analyze data to understand how followers react to content. Otherwise it can be hard to understand how to alter a social media strategy to improve results.
This is important across all social media platforms, but is crucial when it comes to Instagram. Investing in a powerful Instagram analytics tool will help social media marketers determine optimal post time and content type, among other variables.
5. Misunderstanding the target audience.
In 2006, when Hubspot was founded, it was an unknown. Today, Hubspot is a $1.3 billion publicly traded company. Hubspot was able to find success thanks to a tenacious dedication to their customers. This dedication can be seen in their practice of bringing a teddy bear named Molly to meetings.
Molly represents Hubspot’s customer. The company knows Molly’s psychographic and demographic details, and by keeping Molly in mind they are able to make smart decisions that serve their customers best. This understanding has helped Hubspot develop the right content on social media (and in many other places) to attract their ideal customer.
Social media marketers, like business leaders in general, need to understand the target audience. This understanding will make it easier to select the right social media platforms to focus on in the first place. It will also help to clarify what the brand voice should be.
6. Underestimating the power of video.
According to a report by Social Media Examiner, 60 percent of social media marketers said that video content was the most important form of visual content. The reason video content is so popular among social media marketers is because it effectively engages followers.
A report by Hubspot showed that 55 percent of people “thoroughly consume” video content, making it the most engaging content type.
7. Treating each social network the same.
No two social media networks are the same, and it is a mistake to treat them as such. Different people use different platforms, and expect to see different types of content on each. For example, it would be odd to see a social media post about an open position on Instagram, but on LinkedIn it would be normal.
Marketers should choose a handful of social media platforms and attempt to master each one to understand what kind of content performs best on each channel.
8. Assuming younger employees ‘get’ social media.
As a rule, younger people tend to use social media platforms more frequently. Just look at the data reported by PEW Research Center. But this does not mean that the youngest person on the marketing team should necessarily be entrusted with building a social media strategy.
Social media marketing should be treated like other channels that comprise your company’s marketing mix. A strategy should be built around what your team understands about your target customer profile. Competitive analysis should be conducted to see how you can best differentiate your brand voice. Then a savvy social media manager should be entrusted to bring this plan to life.
9. Focusing solely on organic social media.
Paid social media can be an effective way to quickly increase target metrics like followers and engagement. Better yet, paid social media can serve as a complement to an organic social media strategy that is already working.
If, for example, a social media manager has stumbled across a piece of content that resonates with followers organically, it may make sense to increase the reach of this post through paid means.
10. Not training employees to become social sellers.
Each employee in your company has the ability to engage with prospects and customers through social media. Since employees are already using social media for personal reasons, it may make sense to train them to connect with potential customers through social media as well.
Social media networks will continue to grow, both in the United States and around the world. As targeting options become more powerful, they becoming an increasingly compelling channel for marketers.
To be successful, marketers should be sure to avoid the pitfalls outlined in this article, and should approach social media networks with a clear understand of what the goal for using the channel is and how the goal will be accomplished.