Many Brands Still Have No Idea How To Use Social Media
/ January 13, 2016
By Daniel Newman – Co-CEO of V3B & BroadSuite Media Group and Contributing Writer.
When social media platforms were first developed, their primary function was to help likeminded people connect — and share — online, not to act as one giant sales gimmick, with advertisements and “brand sponsored content” vying for everyone’s attention. When brands started to realize the potential of social media for marketing, it became an easy, cost-effective way to reach consumers.
Some companies do a fantastic job of reaching fans with relevant, well-timed, non-invasive messaging, while others use social as an extension of their marketing and advertising efforts. If you take off your marketing cap for a moment, and think like a user — do you personally want to see promotions, ads, and other generic marketing flotsam and jetsam congesting your newsfeed? Or would you rather see organic content that entertains, enlightens, or otherwise enriches your life?
Personally, I prefer the latter, and most users, as well as the folks behind most social media platforms, agree. So, what’s a brand to do? Let’s face it, we ARE in the business of selling, and I’m not here to pretend otherwise. So what can we do to reach that happy medium of savvy engagement minus spammy irritation?
Social Media No-Nos
When it comes to social media, avoid:
- Posting too many promotions. Unless you have an unbelievable deal that adds once in a lifetime value to users, leave overly promotional language for another forum. It’s okay to say “If you’re interested, check out this link for such-and-such,” but it’s not okay to use odd capital lettering and bold graphics for the sole purpose of luring in a customer. Most people aren’t on social media to make a purchase. They’re there to interact with friends, and learn about the world around them.
- Posting too hastily. A social media gaffe can tarnish a company’s reputation just as badly as a scathing online review can. Don’t “newsjack,” and don’t hop on the latest hashtag bandwagon unless you know your content is relevant, appropriate, and meaningful. A well-timed post can encourage brand conversations to flow online, but an ill-prepared post can start conversations of a different kind. Poster hastily at your peril!
- Doing too much or too little. Again, there’s that “fine line” I spoke of above. Posting too often can crowd the space, and your company could become that spammy, annoying one that social media users learn to avoid. On the flip side, if you don’t post often enough, you’re not doing your brand any favors, either. Social media marketing requires balance to work effectively. Make sure you have a solid social strategy behind you before embarking on any type of social marketing campaign.
- Hiring novices to manage social media. While younger people do have a natural affinity for and working knowledge of the latest social media platforms, they may not have the right level of discretion or professionalism. Some companies have a simple review panel or process in place to ensure several eyes glance over material before posting. Prevent unwanted gaffes by ensuing you have seasoned professionals at the helm of your social accounts.
How To Use Social Media Effectively
Companies do need a presence on social media, and they often find success when they engage naturally with their followers, fans, and customers. However, remembering that, at its core, social media engagement should be personal and informal can help companies stay on track. Make content fun, engaging, and thought-provoking instead of trying to make a sale every time you log in.
Don’t be afraid to let your audience get to know the real people behind your brand: Share behind the scenes work-related activities and updates, especially if charitable work is involved. Poll your audience or link to a fun quiz. Keep the content light and interactive to intrigue readers scrolling through their pages.
The key is to always remember that variety is the spice of life:
- Constantly update information. People do look at company profiles on social media. Take the time to flesh them out with interesting content and staffing updates, and use brand journalism to draw in readers. Include links for your websites and other social media accounts, but avoid using overly promotional language.
- Create a schedule. Social media does allow people and brands to post on a whim, but that doesn’t mean your company’s posts should feel like afterthoughts. Choose the content from other marketing campaigns you want to promote, and then share it – but add in other material, too. As I mentioned above, social media offers companies a chance to let an audience see the inner lives of their employees, thereby putting a human face to your brand. Take candid pictures and highlight satisfied customers and employees in your posts. Come up with a formula for responding to world events (if your company plans to engage on that level). And be sure you have an up-to-date “emergency preparedness” plan in place, in case a social faux pas occurs.
- Respond promptly. Your audience will likely contact you on social media. For good AND for bad. Make sure someone responds with an honest answer in a timely manner. Don’t use scripted information to address social media interactions. And never, ever ignore or delete posts (unless they are offensive). Nothing fans the flame of a bad customer service experience than being ignored on social media.
Social media should be a fun, supportive, and informal side to your marketing strategy. Use it heavily in the awareness and nurturing stages of the sales cycle, but not as only a way to earn sales. Check out what your competitors are doing, and emulate a bit of their success.
You’ll be one step closer to becoming part of your customers’ and their followers’ communities.
Additional Resources on this Topic:
– The 11 Must-Use Social Media Strategies to Expand Your Brand
– 8 Tips for Growing Your Social Media Presence
– Social Media Marketing: You Get What You Pay For
By Daniel Newman – Co-CEO of V3B & BroadSuite Media Group and Contributing Writer at The Marketing Scope, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Social Media Today
Websites: www.v3b.com, www.millennialceo.com; Twitter: @DanielNewmanUV
Originally posted on Forbes and LinkedIn.