How to be antisocial on social media
Marketing has changed radically over the last 5 years, with the explosion in new social media networks creating both opportunities and pitfalls for business marketing. Social media can be a highly effective way to create communities and build relationships without meeting face-to-face with your network – when used correctly.
But using social media the wrong way can undermine the investment of time and effort that these networks take to maintain. Watch out for these 7 common mistakes to avoid being antisocial on social media:
1. Mistaking social media for an advertising broadcast platform
The ‘social’ part of ‘social media’ is a clue. This is a place to interact, share and be helpful. If you are treating your Facebook business page or LinkedIn profile as a membership version of Gumtree, you’re going to put people off. Unless of course the purpose of your business is to be a classified page.
This is not to say that you can’t refer to your products or services on social media, but be sparing. Lightly salt your posts with information about why you offer particular products or services and the problems they solve. Occasionally refer to special offers or packages that you have put together to meet a need for your clients. And give people a reason to follow links back to your website, which is where the selling should actually take place.
Social media should be thought of as a networking and relationship building platform, not a sales billboard. Don’t be the online equivalent of a pyramid scheme salesperson at a cocktail party – you’ll end up alone in the corner nursing your plate of finger food.
2. Running hot and cold
It’s hard for a small business owner to make time for everything they need to do. Business admin, marketing, sales – and then there’s doing the actual work!
Social media updating is a task that is most likely to be deferred when times get hectic. But having tumble weeds blowing across your online presence sends the wrong message to customers. Like that friend at University who only ever wanted to catch up between boyfriends, neglecting your social media platforms when you get busy tells your ‘likers’ or contacts that you are only interested in them when it suits you.
Aim to be consistent in your updates and posting. You don’t necessarily have to meet the ‘benchmarks’ set for various social media networks (according to Buffer this is 14 Tweets, 2 Facebook and Google+ posts and 1 LinkedIn update daily!). However, aim to post with a regularity that your followers can come to rely on.
This advice cuts both ways. Avoid flooding your social media with multiple updates when you are at a loose end or when you’re excited about a new platform as well.
If you are having trouble fitting in regular social media management with all the other demands on your time, consider:
• Using a social media scheduling service such as HootSuite or Buffer
• Bulk scheduling of posts on Facebook’s own platform
• Outsourcing your social media management to a specialist freelancer or company
• Making this part of one of your staff’s roles – and ensuring that they are given time to do this properly.
If you are simply trying to do too much in the social media sphere, check out point number 4.
3. Paying for likes
It may seem like a good idea at the time. Looking like you have more friends on your social networks so that the glow of popularity attracts more people to you. Unfortunately it’s usually glaringly obvious when a business has far more likes than would seem…likely.
When it comes to followers, likers or connections, take a quality rather than quantity approach. Build your following organically by sharing valuable content and participating in conversations on other pages or groups. Growing a network organically may take significantly more time, but the connections you make will be far higher quality.
You can also use some of the in platform advertising tools, such as Facebook advertising, to promote your page to a wider audience.
4. Spreading yourself too thin
Which extra social media platform should I add to my LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter account this year? What is the newest, shiniest solution promising fabulous marketing outcomes?
There are a few businesses where it is an advantage to have a broad social media presence. Say – social media agencies who need to demonstrate their proficiency on a wide range of networks. For the rest of us, is it really necessary that your plumbing firm has a Pinterest Page or your accountancy practice has a rocking Instagram account?
The rule of thumb is that you should be where your main target audience is. It may not even be on one of the ubiquitous networks mentioned above. For example, homebuilders, interior designers and landscapers have found enormous success on Houzz.com. Houzz is a highly visual platform where members can collect photos of designs and home related inspiration on ‘ideaboards’. Kind of like Pinterest for renovators. If you are a specialist or expert such as a consultant, Quora is a site where people can post both questions and answers on any topic – handy for demonstrating your expertise on a topic.
Rather than burning yourself out with multiple accounts, pick one or two platforms and focus on doing them well. You can always add an additional account in the future – as long as it’s worth your while.
5. Getting too personal – or not personal enough
There’s a fine line on social media. Your business brand should have a personality – it is key to getting prospects to understand, trust and buy from you. However, boundaries are needed. Don’t mistake your business profiles for your personal ones – and make sure you have a separate business page on platforms like Facebook.
Post content that is relevant to your audience. If you are a photographer specialising in family portraits, it is quite appropriate to post photos of your family taken in your professional style. If you are an engineering firm undertaking deep sea drilling, the world probably doesn’t need snapshots from the office Christmas party.
Sharing issues and asking for advice from your social networks can be an appropriate and effective method of engagement that starts a two-way dialogue. But beware of the social media vent. Rants have helped some people get publicity – but is that how you want people remember your business?
Pictures of cats are welcome on most platforms. Kidding – leave them off LinkedIn.
6. Not linking your profiles to your brand
One version of your logo here, another there and a stretched out cover image on Facebook. If you are using social media for business, maintaining a consistent brand identity across platforms should be a priority. This includes page names – you can use a service such as namechk to check availability of names on multiple platforms at the same time.
Your tone and style on social media also speaks volumes about your brand identity, so make sure your social media ‘voice’ aligns with your brand as well as the platform you use.
7. Make social media management the job of the work experience kid
Like any other part of your marketing strategy, your social media presence should be strategically planned and executed. It can be hard to track the immediate return on investment of social media efforts, so it can be tempting to make it the responsibility of the lowest paid (or unpaid) team member.
Remember that social media is a highly visible voice for your organisation. If you wouldn’t send a particular staff member to represent you in a TV or newspaper interview, why would you put them in charge of your social media presence?
This is not to say that junior staff shouldn’t be involved. There may be some talented people who can be mentored to eventually oversee this essential task. They may also have a good understanding about how to use some of the newer platforms. But they may not yet have the experience to use social media for business. This responsibility belongs with more senior staff who have marketing and communications expertise, or with outsourced experts.
Social media has given businesses great opportunities to connect directly with their fans, prospects and community. It is one of the most effective modern ways to create a relationship with your customers, and if used properly can be a great addition to a marketing strategy.
So avoid making these common ‘anti-social’ mistakes, and make social media start working for you.
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