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Most small business owners have heard that social media can drive website traffic, leads, and brand awareness. Yet many struggle to get results from social media marketing.
Big businesses have the same problem. US spending on social media marketing hit $7.52 billion in 2014. Yet, only 42% of marketers feel they can measure the return on investment (ROI) for their social media activities.
What's caused the promise of social media marketing to become tempered with such a healthy dose of uncertainty about its effectiveness?
Hit Or Miss Approach
Far too often, business owners treat social media more like a toy than a marketing channel. And that leads to wasted time and money. Not to mention a lack of results.
They put up a Facebook page and post to various social media accounts and expect the sales to start rolling in.
When that doesn't work, they scratch their heads and wonder why they aren't getting results when other businesses claim to get so much benefit from social media marketing.
If you are struggling with social media marketing - or if you're just considering a social media marketing campaign - you'll greatly improve your chance for success by being aware of these 7 social media marketing mistakes and their solutions.
Mistake 1: You don’t have a social media strategy. If your social media activities don't have any strategy or business purpose behind them, that's a red flag. You're not alone though. 55% of small businesses struggle with developing a social media strategy.
Solution: Develop and document your strategy. What are your goals with social media? Who are you trying to reach? What social networks do they use? How will you earn their attention? The answers to these questions will help you build a social media marketing plan.
Mistake 2: You're not measuring the impact of social media. Tying social media marketing to a tangible ROI can be tricky. Maybe that's why a Manta small business survey found that 59% didn't see a ROI on social media activities. But, if you don't track and measure your efforts, how will you know if it's helping to grow your business?
Solution: Start measuring your efforts and their results. There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to figuring out your return on marketing investment. To get started, track what your put into your social media marketing (time, effort, and resources) and what you get back. Buffer’s Kevan Lee wrote a “delightfully short” guide to social media ROI
Mistake 3: You're too aggressive. If you find yourself going straight for the sale every time you interact with someone on social media, you may be missing the point. Although you can use it to sell, social media is all about making a connection first.
Solution: Sell less, listen more. One of the best parts of marketing using social media is being able to observe and participate in conversations with your customers and potential customers. Pay attention to their wants, needs, and disappointments. Use social media to connect with them by sharing useful content or responding to comments and complaints.
Mistake 4: You're spreading yourself too thin. If you're burned out from trying to use too many social media platforms, it may be a warning sign. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t “win” at social media by being the first to setup an account on every new channel.
Solution: Consolidate your efforts. Find out where your customers are and start there. For most small businesses, that's going to be Facebook. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the majority of its 3 million advertisers are small businesses. Learn how to use their free tools first but don’t ignore paid options. They have affordable options and best of all, you can do targeted marketing aimed at your ideal customer.
Mistake 5: You're too promotional. If you're always talking about your company and your products, you might be turning potential customers off. People don’t access their social media accounts to be bombarded with sales messages.
Solution: Change your approach. Andrew Davis' Social Media 4-1-1 formula is a great guideline. It says that for every six pieces of content you share on social media:
- 4 should be content relevant to your audience that is shared by influencers in your market.
- 1 should be your original content with an educational bent to help your audience
- 1 should be sales-related content.
Mistake 6: You're sharing lackluster content. Great content is what makes social media work. Without original, engaging content to get their attention, why should anyone interact with you on social media?
Solution: Find out what interests your audience and share that. According to MarketingProfs, 27 million pieces of digital content get shared on an average day in the US. Visual and interactive content can help you stand out. Make sure your content is helpful, entertaining, and easy to share. Above all else, make certain that you share content your audience finds relevant.
Mistake 7: You're not responding to customers. Social media is all about genuine interaction. Yet, 34% of small businesses don’t have any social media presence, and 36% of those who do don’t respond to their customers’ comments.
Solution: Respond in a timely fashion. If a customer called you on the telephone and left a voicemail message, I’m pretty sure you would call them back. Well, customers have a similar expectation with social media. In fact, 32% of folks who reach out to a company through social media for customer support expect a response within 30 minutes. 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. If you’re not doing this, in your customers’ minds, you’ve already dropped the ball.
Avoid these seven mistakes and you have a much better chance of success. Your marketing efforts will become more focused, more productive, and more effective. And social media will turn into website traffic and leads.