Meta: Failure to plan means planning to fail. HV Social Media has advice to put your social media marketing on the road to success.
A poorly-planned and badly-executed social media marketing strategy can be worse than having none at all. Here are five of the mistakes the HV Social Media team sees most often, as well as a few simple tips to get you back on track.
Social Media Strategy
The biggest thing holding back your social media strategy? All too often, it’s the lack of a strategy. You know you should be doing something on social media, make no mistake. But your approach shouldn’t be to try a bunch of things, hope they work, abandon them when they don’t get quick results, and move on to the next thing.
Remember the “Five Ps”? If not, here’s a refresher: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Make your plan and stick to it. If you feel a change is necessary, try changes of degrees before you try changes of kind. Make sure you’ve done something correctly and thoroughly, and only then should you move on to the next thing.
Time and Consistency
That probably sounds time-consuming, and it is. That’s true when you’re trying to get most things right, but especially your social media strategy.
Consistency also matters. It’s not enough to post every once in awhile and then go silent for extended periods of time. Waiting for the inspiration to strike won’t cut it. It takes a long time to build an audience, but it doesn’t take nearly as long to lose one. Build good habits and stick to them. Create an editorial calendar to keep your content fresh across relevant channels. Bring in outside help when you need it.
Know Your Customers
Have you forgotten who your customers are? Know your avatars. Come up with a handful of archetypes. Look at demographics, but also at deeper motivations. You may find yourself getting remarkably — and hysterically — specific (“He’s a 33-year-old ex-Goth carpenter who hates flannel, listens to Vivaldi, and disdains malty beers.” “She’s a 48-year-old systems engineer who’s a single mom with two sons, a dog, and three chinchillas. Vegan, strong aversion to kale, still secretly lusts after Velveeta.”).
Those profiles do two things: first, they help you find your customers where they are; each channel draws more heavily from some demographics than others. Second, they help you define your brand voice so you’re speaking to your customers in a way that’s genuine and relatable.
Avoid Social Media Selfishness
We all have that one friend who’s signed on to an MLM. Their tweets and their Facebook wall are clogged with mentions of their product, and sooner or later, each conversation circles back to the “opportunity” they’d love you to see. Whether you realize it or not, your brand risks doing the same thing. Talk about something more than yourself and your product.
There’s a big world out there. You can acknowledge the good your competitors do in the world. You can point to problems that your products and services solve without mentioning your product; your customers are smart and will make the connection. You can take the time to celebrate your customers and show them your appreciation. Nobody likes the party guest who talks about nobody but himself. Don’t let your brand be “that guy.”
One of the biggest mistakes we see is brands that remember the “media” but forget the “social.” Your channels aren’t radio or TV stations. Listen to your customers. Break the fourth wall. Talk to people.
If they love your product, thank them. If they have a problem with an aspect of your product or how it was delivered, own up to what you might’ve done wrong or what you could’ve done better. If they come to your page to vent about something that might not be directly related to your product (a cat owner lets you know that her Fluffy, who loved your cat food, recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge), be a human being, not a brand; commiserate.
Pay Attention to the Numbers
The mere word “analytics” makes many people’s eyes glaze over. They’re there for a reason, though. You’re likely spending a significant amount of time and money on your social media outreach. How do you ensure you’re not wasting valuable time and money? You measure.
Pay attention to your analytics. They’ll tell you who your customers are, where they’re from, what catches their attention (or doesn’t), causes them to click (or doesn’t), and entices them to buy (or doesn’t). It may try your patience, especially when something isn’t performing as expected. But at its best, it can also challenge your assumptions (you may find a customer base you didn’t realize you had) and help you do better by your customers and your business.
So if you’re committed to a social media strategy for the long haul, what can you do?
- Plan ahead, and revisit your plans to make sure they keep working
- Invest time, staying persistent and consistent
- Get to know your fans, and talk to them rather than at them
- Amplify other voices, not just your own
- Remember it’s a conversation
- Measure, iterate, and measure again
If you’re having difficulty keeping track of all the moving parts of your social media marketing, there’s no shame in enlisting outside help. For many small businesses in the Hudson Valley, HV Social Media is a trusted partner in managing their digital marketing.