By Bridget McCrea
With all of the social media sites that are online, all of the valuable content you want to share with your audience, and all of the social networking tools that are at your avail, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the hype without ever really assessing whether your approach is working…or not. Here are nine mistakes that companies commonly make on the social media front and some solid advice on how to avoid these pitfalls:
- Being too focused on selling. Social media isn’t a direct sales channel, which means the “hard sell” doesn’t go over well on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “I see way too many companies – regardless of industry – focused on selling within their social streams,” says Mary Shafer, a marketing consultant and owner of The Word Forge in Ferndale, Pa. The easiest way to avoid this trap, she says, is by simply not turning your social media into a sales channel. “Don’t do it,” she says. “Instead, position your distributorship as a trusted, valued provider of interesting, relevant, and actionable content.”
- Not putting a social media policy in place. As helpful as it can be, social media can also be a disaster for the uninitiated company that’s just jumping into the fray. One way to avoid these potential problems is to have a clearly worded social media policy, but all too often, businesses pass up this important step. According to Social Media Today’s 5 Common Mistakes Businesses Make on Social Media, good social media policy should provide a detailed guideline for how employees are supposed to act online, establishing expectations that will educate staff. “Without a social media policy, businesses are more likely to make a blunder that’s difficult to recover from.”
- Overdoing it on the social media posts. People like to get updates on Facebook or Twitter, but they don’t like seeing their timelines fill up with posts from the same person or business. “Overloading people’s social media pages is a surefire way to get them to stop following you,” according to Social Media Today, which points out that many businesses use automation for posting on multiple social media sites, but that can easily lead to overload. “Spread out your updates so you don’t overwhelm your followers. For example, the generally accepted rule for Facebook is to post one to 5 updates every day.”
- Skimping on your social media management budget. Tweets may be short and sweet, but that doesn’t mean they can be sloppy. “There’s nothing worse than poorly written drivel posted on a blog or a social media site,” says Shafer, who suggests tapping internal resources (preferably someone who has writing experience/capability) or an outside contractor to manage the ongoing task of social media management. “Remember that your social media efforts are a major part of the corporate ‘face’ that you show to the world,” says Shafer. “This isn’t the place to skimp.”
- Utilizing the wrong social media platforms. The “big four” social media platforms right now are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest – but these aren’t your only options. “Each social platform has its own specific uses,” says Matthew R. Edwards, copywriter and social media expert at Progressive Automations in Vancouver. He says that while Facebook and Pinterest are often best for business-to-consumer efforts, LinkedIn and Twitter are generally more effective for business-to-business social networking. “Find out which platforms you want to use and which ones would be best suited to your own business,” Edwards says, “before you invest time and effort into them.”
- Making it “all about you.” Despite what you may believe, your customers don’t want to know how great your distributorship is (even if it is great). “They want to know what’s in it for them,” says Edwards, who advises companies to take the focus off of what they’re getting out of the social media experience. “Instead, highlight what you can do to help others. Make that your focus and people will naturally draw themselves to your online social media platforms.”
- Using social media as an advertising mechanism. As mentioned in the first tip in this article, social media isn’t a selling channel. It’s also not an advertising platform. “When you treat your social media accounts as just another way to advertise your products or services, people aren’t going to stick around your page for too long,” Edwards says. Focus on providing your customers with posts that are informative, funny, newsworthy, or innovative. “Use posts that give your customers real value without expecting anything in return will mean you get more shares, likes, re-tweets, and comments,” Edwards adds. “These four mechanisms are basically their own advertising methods.”
- Not making your social media icons visible. Forgetting to add social media icons to your website, emails, and marketing materials – or, burying them in a place where no one can see them – can put distributors at a disadvantage in the social networking world. “Make your icons visible and easy to access,” advises Dustin Ranem, graphic design coordinator at Werner Electric in Cottage Grove, Minn. And even if you’re tempted to create a separate page to announce your distributorship’s social media presence – complete with the icons – don’t, says Ranem. “The icons should be front-and-center on your site,” he adds, “or at least highly visible to anyone who is scrolling down the front page of your website.”
- Focusing on quantity of followers instead of quality. It’s very easy to get caught up in the race to add as many followers and friends as possible on social media, but this is a strategy that distributors should avoid. “Some companies are willing to do anything to get more followers, fans, or likes from buying followers to staging a fake Twitter hack,” says social media expert Dave Hawley in the CIO article 15 Big Social Media Mistakes Companies Make and How to Avoid Them. “The problem is, likes don’t equal sales.” To avoid this challenge, focus on quality over quantity. “It’s more valuable for a company to have 100,000 highly engaged advocates than one million followers or fans, many of whom have zero interest in your brand or may not even be real,” says Hawley.
By following the advice we’ve given you in this article, and by carefully navigating the nine landmines that can quickly derail a well-intentioned social media plan, your distributorship will be well positioned to leverage the social media trend.
McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.Tagged with tED