Bad habits tend to creep up on you. You don't realize they're forming until they're already a part of your normal process, and you often don't realize they're destructive until it's too late to prevent the damage. Still, it's possible to recognize your bad habits before they cause any more harm and correct them with a handful of simple changes.
Social media marketing is as prone to bad habits as anything else in life. There's no simple instruction manual for marketing your business effectively, so many new business owners and emerging marketers fall into common traps that prevent them from ever growing their audience.
Before any more damage is done, look at your own practices and campaigns, and rectify these five common bad habits:
1. Over-scheduling your posts. Those fancy post-scheduling tools are extremely convenient, and if used properly, can save you hours of time. Some even allow you to mass upload dozens or hundreds of potential posts, staggering their release at regular intervals to give your campaign consistency without the necessity of logging in every hour of every day. There's one major downside to this; it's too easy to grow accustomed to those scheduled-in-advance posts as a safety net. When you're certain that a steady stream of posts will emerge on your brand's social profile, you don't think about new things to post as you encounter them. Eventually, your users will start to notice that all your posts seem to be thought up in advance, and you never really offer "in the moment" material. Social media is a place of immediacy, and if you want to stay relevant with your audience, you need to avoid over-relying on those scheduled posts.
2. Only posting as a brand. Most social marketing campaigns are rooted in a brand (i.e., the company's social profiles). But social media is primarily a place for people to connect with other people. Modern consumers are naturally distrustful of brands, meaning your messages won't be trusted or valued as much as similar messages posted from a personal account. To make the most of your overall strategy, include some posts from built-up personal brands within your company to complement those from your corporate brand's account. For example, get your CEO or other executives on Twitter to talk about their own feelings regarding recent company developments, or even glimpses into their lives and careers. It will give your brand a much more human feel, and will make you seem more trustworthy and approachable.
3. Selling your products. The biggest motivator for leveraging the power of social marketing is generating more revenue. The theory goes that more followers on your newsfeed gives you more chances to appeal to people marginally interested in your products. However, this can lead to a misconception that social media marketing is a prime opportunity to sell your products (or services) to your target audience. Instead, social media should be about providing value to your followers and building trust in your brand. Relentlessly selling your products will only make people distrust you and want to tune you out. The majority of your posts should be informative, entertaining, or at least interesting to the masses. Interested parties will stick with you, and will eventually wander to your site--and that's where you should be selling your products.
4. Giving canned responses. When you receive the same types of queries over and over, it's easy to fall into a pattern of canned responses. For example, if customers occasionally come to you on social media with questions or complaints about your products, it's easy to develop a one line message like "for more information, please see our customer service page at..." that you can use over and over. However, this repeated approach will be quickly noticed by your followers, who will then feel neglected. Doing this too often will make your brand seem faceless, impersonal, or generally unhelpful.
5. Focusing on the wrong numbers. Social media marketing, like any form of marketing, is a bit of a numbers game. You'll be investing a certain amount of time and money, so you expect a certain amount of money to come back to you from your efforts. However, most novice social marketers tend to focus on the wrong numbers--the glamorous ones. For example, they'll focus on follower counts and "likes" on Facebook rather than the amount of social traffic generated, or how engaged those followers actually are. You're not after followers in general--you're after passionate, dedicated, engaged followers. If you focus only on a bottom line number without considering user behavior, you'll end up tailoring your strategy in a way that fills your audience with veritable "zombie" consumers who have little to no real interest in your brand.
Once you get rid of these five bad habits, you should have a much better chance at making your social media campaigns a success. You'll still have to make adjustments as you learn more about what your followers do and don't support in your campaigns, but this marks a great first step in building the momentum you need to be a success.