Written by Matt Thomson
The Australian digital media landscape has gone through an amazing transformation over the last few years. Social media used to be seen as frivolous and only really big brands had the marketing dollars to throw at engaging their Facebook and Twitter audience. Thankfully that mentality has changed and it’s amazing to see how businesses, big and small are embracing social media. Today, many more businesses are willing to acknowledge that being social is powerful.
However, while social media offers incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with customers and build their brand it’s not enough to just “do” social. The social web is infinitely vast and there is a massive amount of content being produced every day. This means your Facebook or Twitter posts could very well be disappearing into cyberspace without a trace. When this happens, companies usually don’t see much value from their social marketing efforts and start believing social media is more hype than substance.
The problem isn’t with social media - the problem is usually with the way social media marketing (SMM) is handled. With dollar signs in their eyes, many companies jump into social networks without a plan just because it’s the thing to do; because everyone is doing it.
When SMM fails for a company, there is usually a pattern to the reasons behind the failure. To avoid these common pitfalls, businesses need to adopt a strategic approach to social media.
1. Have A Strategy In Place
Social networks are a fun and casual place to be but good social media marketing is serious business. If you really want to see results from social marketing, just “being” on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest isn’t enough. A common pitfall for businesses on social media is not having a proper strategy in place. SMM needs continual research and a solid plan of action. As a business, you need to ask yourself >>>
Research your audience
Don’t think about your customers as a collective herd of people. Think about an actual person in your target audience. You have to put yourself in their shoes and put a lot of thought into what they like / dislike. Understanding your audience will help you plan your content and your long term social media strategy.
Research your competitors
You don’t have to copy what your competitors are doing but it’s always a good idea to have a finger on the pulse and see what you’re up against.
Plan your content
Once you have answered these questions and hopefully have some insights, you need to put an editorial calendar into place. Posting good, engaging content that your audience will appreciate should be planned ahead instead of doing it ad hoc.
2. Make Engagement A Priority
When done well, social media will bring you leads but social isn’t about the sell. The key to good SMM is in being social of course and this is something many businesses still fail to realise. When you look at your Facebook page or Twitter account as yet another sales channel, you have stumbled over yet another pitfall.
Your audience is on social media to interact with you and to socialise with you. If you treat this an opportunity for a one way broadcast, your audience will quickly disappear and your broadcasts will remain unseen. But when you start posting content your audience is interested in, they will interact with you and expose your brand to their friends, who could be your potential customers too. Social media is at least 80 percent give and 20 percent take - be sure not to get them mixed up.
3. Acquire Targeted Followers
Acquiring masses of social media followers is something many businesses seem to obsess over. But if you’re after big numbers alone, you’re doing it wrong. Your focus should instead be on acquiring a targeted audience i.e. an audience that is genuinely interested in your product / your company. This audience will interact with you and the engagement will help you boost your social presence. You are better off having a 1000 fans of which 500 interact with you regularly than having 5000 fans of which only 500 interact with you. Focus on engaging your genuine audience and social media success will follow.
Social is powerful and businesses of all shapes and sizes are seeing great results from it. Simply setting up shop on social media and waiting for the customers to come isn’t enough. Instead, think about your customers as people and focus on building an engaging community on social media and your brand will thrive. You will start seeing tangible results for your hard work if you do social the right way.
About The Author
Matt Thomson is the founder of Connect Social Media, a digital agency focused on growing small businesses with the power of social media. Connect Social Media offer both a paid management service and free online DIY education. Download their free 'Just Do It' social media guide to learn how you can grow your business with social media marketing. You can contact Matt on Twitter and Facebook.