I will be presenting at Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas on the Small to Medium Business (SMB) track. My presentation, Social Media 101 Back to the Basics, will focus on three of my post popular Top Ten Posts. One of which is, Top Ten Social Media Pitfalls to Watch out for.
There are countless benefits that come from marketing through social media but for every benefit there is a pitfall to watch out for. Because social media is still in its infancy those using the space cannot benefit from watching others try and fail. Instead, you are the users who others will learn from. While there is no sure fire strategy to avoid failures there are some key pitfalls to watch out for. Here are my top ten social media pitfalls to avoid:
1- Focusing Too Much on the Numbers:
It’s hard not to focus on the numbers when you see brands like Dunkin’ Donuts with over three million likes on Facebook and Pepsi with over eighty two thousands follows on Twitter. However, reaching a high number of likes or follows should not be your organizations main priority. Instead the result of successful engagement over time and setting of the right goals will naturally result in a larger number of Likes, Followers and Connections.
2- Creating Campaigns You Can’t Manage:
Coming up with a brilliant idea is only one step in a myriad of steps that go into planning, executing and measuring a successful social media campaign. Far too many organizations come up with an exciting idea but skip the rest of the steps, jumping into the campaign with little to no planning. This is one of the most dangerous pitfalls to watch out for. Considerable time, consideration and thought should go into every great idea. Many of your best ideas may not make it to fruition because they are simply too complex, expensive or impractical to implement.
3- Thinking its FREE:
Lets get something straight, social media marketing is NOT free. Almost everyone knows the saying you get what you pay for and social media is no exception. While it may be free to create a social profile or post a message these free services are meant for the casual users. If you’re an organization looking to actually market on the platforms expect to spend money. The fact that social sites are free for users is great, it means millions of users are able to connect with organizations of all shapes and sizes without pulling out their wallet. However, making the mistake of assuming you can market on these platforms without spending money, and compete with the plethora of other organizations vying for users attention, is a pitfall that will surely result in social media marketing failure.
4- Expecting Immediate Results:
One of the best aspects of social media marketing is that even those organizations with a small budget can be successful. No matter what your product or service, size of your organization or brand recognition, social media marketing provides a unique opportunity to connect and engage. The only problem, it takes time! Those of you who understand search engine optimization (SEO) know it takes time to build any online presence. The beginning can be frustrating, trying to get users to like a page that has very few likes, twitter followers to follow your tweets when they see only 10 others are interested etc…. However, over time your communities and engagement will grow. You may have to wait until you have a following before launching your great campaign or hold off on pushing out lots of messages until more people are listening but, in time, you will get there. If you don’t reach your goals in two months that does not mean you failed. Give it time and don’t give up!
There are times when automating is necessary but for the most part avoid this at all costs. Authenticity is key in any social media marketing strategy. Social users are savvy and can smell a phony from miles away. Avoid using automated Direct Messages at all costs, as well as, automating identical tweets and facebook messages. Social users expect different types of messages on the various platforms they engage on and it’s easy to tell when an organization is pushing out the same messages across all platforms. This type of social media engagement indicates you don’t care enough to take the time to engage. This is an important pitfall to avoid as it can be difficult to pull yourself out. It will take significant time and energy to regain users trust after they’ve figured out you’re simply automating your online engagement.
6- Replacing Traditional Media Entirely with Social Media
While social media marketing offers almost endless possibilities that doesn’t mean your traditional marketing efforts should cease. In fact, some of the most successful social campaigns, Old Spice for example, are supported by traditional marketing. As marketing shifts and changes so should those organizations engaging in marketing but to completely rely on social, at least at this stage, could result in serious failure. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket move things around and try combination’s of new and traditional media, you will likely find a nice balance.
7- Paying for Friends
Pitfall number one is falling for the numbers trick, thinking all you need is a large number of likes or followers. Most organizations for fall into that pitfall follow up with pitfall number seven and pay for their large number of followers. Recently I had a conversation with Terra Spero of RealTime Marketing Group about the failures brands see from paying for friends. While $1,000 can likely get you one thousand likes they will almost definilely not be within your demographic and you should not expect any engagement.
8- Not Having a Strong Social Media Policy
One of the scariest pitfalls one can fall into is not having a strong social media policy in place before embarking on a social media campaign. Social media policies should be designed to protect your organizations when and if things go wrong. So long as there’s a strong policy in place the organization should be able to stand up to most social media crisis’.
9- Failing to Create a Social Strategy
I’ve written in the past about the importance of setting social media goals and failing to set goals and craft true strategies are pitfalls every organization must avoid. The concept of embarking on social media campaigns is exciting but still must be treated as a strategy, requiring careful planning. So what exactly is a social strategy? Plotting out your social media marketing strategy requires many steps including setting and defining goals, laying out how you will reach those goals and strategies for dealing with possible road blocks are just a few of the many steps that should go into crafting the right strategy.
10- Not Measuring Success and Failure
Measuring return on investment (ROI) can be frustrating when it comes to social media marketing. It’s frustrating because there is no set way for measuring social media marketing. This means organizations must come up with their own ways of measuring success and failure. In order to do this you must first figure out what and how you will measure. Recently I wrote about the infamous buzz word, ROI, because it seems to elude even the most experienced of marketers.
Interested in learning more about Social Media Marketing? Why not attend the Social Media Strategies Summit in Boston September 20-22