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September 16, 2016

Cindy Penchina, President

5 Ways You're Using Social Media WrongRemember the phone book?

Once upon a time, all you really had to do was just stick yourself in the phone book, make sure your name and phone number were correct, and count on the fact that, well, people would find you. There wasn’t much else to making yourself available. You really just needed a phone and someone to sit next to it. “Hello,” they’d say. “This is Ajax Plumbing.”

But that’s all history, and in the modern landscape, you need to be available on multiple platforms in order to maximize your reach – including all relevant social media channels. But it’s easy to totally mess it up. Some are obvious – insulting your audience, posting profanity, things like that – but the real risk is in the structural details of your social media plan.

Here are 5 ways you can totally screw up your social media strategy so that you can avoid doing them.

1. You've Got No Plan

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Starting a social media campaign without a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, who you’re trying to reach, why, and how is a surefire way to guarantee you accomplish literally nothing. Social media is a powerful tool, but it will only deliver real benefits if you work out a systematic plan with clear metrics for success that play into a larger business strategy. Simply saying “if we build it, they will come” won’t (and can’t) actually get you anywhere.

You need to sit down and think about what your larger business goals are and how social media can help you get there – and then pour the right resources into it to make it possible. That means locating the right platforms to reach your audience, establishing clear, measurable goals in order to gauge your effectiveness, and giving the strategy a chance to play out.

2. Account Duplication

Social’s been around for a good bit at this point – Facebook is over a decade old – and business accounts aren’t exactly new. That means that there are lots of businesses out there with pages they either can’t access or aren’t aware of – who then go and create new ones. But in doing so, they also create confusion; it can be hard for people to know which account to follow. And some companies deliberately create accounts to represent different facets of their brand.

No, no, no.

Duplicate accounts cannibalize your audience, making both of them less effective – and that’s in an ideal situation where both of them are working. Splitting your efforts in an attempt to segment your audience only makes it less likely that anyone will see what you post. If you must segment your audience, use content to do so; paying attention to link conversions will give you a much wider, more dynamic picture of what your audience is interested in and why then you’d ever get segmenting at the source.

3. Dead Air

Some people make accounts for themselves and their brands….and vanish. Yes, much like the mythical village of Brigadoon, an inactive account that floats in and out of existence periodically isn’t one people are going to have an easy time of engaging with. Accounts that don’t post frequently simply aren’t going to build their audiences, and more to the point, don’t give their audiences anything to latch onto. If you aren’t providing value, you aren’t going to really catch their interest. You need to keep your social profiles active, engaged, and responsive, willing and able to connect with your audience by posting great content and responding when others reach out. Because your social profiles are going to be the first place they turn – well before they ever place a call.

4. Being There for Yourself, and Not for Your Audience

“But,” you might be thinking incredulously to yourself, “I don’t have that much to talk about! My business doesn’t have news every single day!” Well, no, it probably doesn’t. But that’s fine, because nobody would want to hear about your business every single day. What we recommend is posting high-quality third-party content that’s relevant to both your brand and your audience, reinforcing your presence in their lives as a positive (“Magellan Popcorn? They’re the ones who post all those great movie reviews!”) and keeping them interested when you do have business-critical stuff to discuss. Like getting them to, I don’t know, convert on a content offer.

5. Caring More About the Sale Than the People

By and large, social media is not a selling tool.

Let me say that again: social media is not a selling tool. It’s not designed to serve as an ecommerce portal, and more to the point, nobody wants their Facebook news feed spammed with coupons, sales, offers, and deals; they’re on Facebook and Twitter to connect with people and enjoy themselves, not be sold to. So it’s important to remember that your first priority needs to be making a connection, not putting your products front and center. If you give people a positive social experience, they’ll think better of your brand, and be more inclined to buy down the line. But if you’re just annoying, well, they probably won’t go your way for anything.

Commercial resentments run deep, man.

The thing is that all of this is just the bare minimum. Avoiding these mistakes means that you’ve got the beginnings of a solid strategy, but it isn’t the be-all end-all of your digital marketing plan. You can learn more by downloading The Essential Guide to Internet Marketing.