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Sarah Haston: Common mistakes in social media marketing

Sarah Haston • Updated Mar 6, 2018 at 1:00 PM

One of the most important things any brand can remember is that while social media is a marketing tool, it really needs to remain social. It’s people talking to other people. Treat it like a conversation.

If you’re finding your engagement low on social media, before you get too frustrated and throw in the towel, have a look at some of the most common mistakes brands make on social media to see if you can turn things around.

• Only selling: A one-sided conversation is pretty boring if you’re on the receiving end and, if you’re honest, you’re more likely to run out of things to say if you’re not allowing a conversation to progress between two people. 

The same can be said for social media. If you are constantly talking about yourself through a continuous hard sell of your products/services, your target audience will quickly lose interest. It’s not authentic if all you do is talk about yourself.

The solution is to develop your content strategy with engagement in mind. If you set out to engage people in a more meaningful way, you will find that your loyal brand community will grow as you make connections. 

• Ignoring comments: Do not ignore comments. Often, with small business owners or small marketing teams – one person who is running the show – it can be easy to let things slip through the cracks. But while you are busy running other aspects of your business, your community will go elsewhere if they feel you don’t value them. Studies show that 70 percent of people are more likely to stick with a brand if they respond on social media.

Here’s the solution. Social media is all about connection and dialogue, so connect and continue the dialogue. Whether on purpose or not, you should never leave a comment unanswered, even if it is just to react to it by liking it or responding with an emoji. If you’re having trouble keeping on top of it, schedule 15 minutes every day to sit down with your online community and answer any questions or comments that have come up. It will start to feel like a habit after a while.

• Not providing value: If you are just posting for the sake of posting because you need content up there with little regard for what that content is, then it’s likely not going to attract the audience you had intended. You’ll get a lackluster response.

The solution is to remember you are on social media for the benefit of your customers, so you should be posting about things they want to hear about. Keep up on the trends within your industry and listen for questions that come up frequently about your products or service. You should be addressing those topics to provide value to your community. You might even try asking them what they want to hear about.

• Going for quantity over quality: You see other brands on social media that have thousands of followers and you want that for yourself. Before you know it that becomes the most important thing about your social media strategy. Your number of followers means nothing if they aren’t converting into customers and if your overall engagement is low. If your goal is merely to gain more followers on social media, you’re missing the entire point to social media marketing.

The solution is to focus on building a community, not an audience. If you have a highly engaged community on social media, it’s not going to matter as much if the number fluctuates a bit. You will notice an upward steady growth trend in your following, your engagement, and your revenues. The more engaged your community is, the more likely they are to actually buy into what it is you’re selling. 

As you are developing or troubleshooting your social media strategy, keep these common mistakes in the back of your head. 

If you attended our Shop Small Digital Marketing Seminar – pull out those handouts and keep the top 10 as a reference. Remember that you should be having fun with your social media strategy because it is all about building a brand community of people. 

The biggest tip I can give you is to remember conversation… treat your social media like you would a conversation.

Sarah Haston is economic development director in Lebanon.

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