By Peter Boyd
Social media is everywhere. Entities of all sizes and types, from large and small businesses to entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations, are increasingly investing time and resources to develop their social media campaigns. If you are like most people operating in today’s competitive environment, you are probably aware of the value that social media channels can add to your business. However, with so many options and tools available, it is easy to make mistakes that can hurt both your campaign and your brand. If you want to reap the most from your social media marketing efforts, below are some common pitfalls to avoid:
- Jumping in Without a Plan: Like most things in life, it is difficult to get to where you want to be without a plan. Many businesses made the mistake of jumping into social media marketing without thinking ahead. When it comes to social media, you can easily waste a lot of time and resources when you skip the planning process. While you don’t have to overcomplicate things, you need to develop a social media marketing plan that takes into account where your business is today, where you want to be in the short term and long term, and the tools and resources you will need reach your goals and objectives.
- Trying to Be Everywhere: While it is tempting to participate in as many social media platforms as possible, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Everyone has limits in terms of their time and resources, so you need to prioritize your activities. Neglecting a social media channel is often far worse than not participating on that channel at all. If you take the time to identify the platforms where your customers are engaging, you can develop a campaign that allows you to connect with the right audience. Additionally, while being active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other popular social media channels may be critical for your business, don’t overlook lesser known, niche social networks that cater to your industry and target audience.
- Focusing on Sales Rather Than Relationships: Social media is all about connecting with people. Whether you are posting on Facebook, sending a tweet or launching a tutorial video on YouTube, you don’t want to go for the hard sell. Your objective should be to produce valuable and compelling content that connects you with your target audience. When you provide people with interesting and useful information that triggers an emotion, whether it be laughter or relief, you are building critical relationships that are the key to success for any business.
- Sticking With the Same Format: When your time is limited, it can be easy to fall into the trap of doing the same things over and over again. If you want to connect with an audience and keep them coming back for more, you need to experiment with different formats and tools. For example, if you normally limit your postings to traditional text, consider adding a photo or other image to enhance your message. Videos are also a great way to mix things up. Host an online tutorial, webinar or other online event that addresses your followers’ most pressing issues and concerns.
- Publishing Identical Information on Your Channels: In addition to varying the tools and formats that you use over time, it is also important to avoid publishing the same information across all social media channels. When you do so, you run the risk of losing followers on your channels. People begin to think they only need to check one channel because they will find the same information on all your platforms.
- Failing to Review the Results: Because social media marketing requires substantial time and resources, you need to track your return on investment. Ask yourself: Are you attracting new followers? How long are people staying on your channels and are they coming back? Is your content being shared? These are just a few of the metrics that you need to consider in your analysis. In addition to determining whether your resources are well spent, these measurements can help you identify what is effective and what is not working so that you can improve your overall campaign.
Keep in mind that social media is a very crowded place. If you want to launch a campaign that attracts and engages an audience, you need to develop strategies that work for your business. While developing and executing a social media strategy requires time and effort on your part, a well-thought-out campaign is far more likely to yield results.
Peter Boyd is a Florida attorney and founder of PaperStreet, a "by lawyers, for lawyers" web-marketing firm that has helped over 1,000 law firms with their social media, content, web design and internet marketing needs.