Social media has been here a long time. We tend to think it exploded in popularity with the introduction of Facebook, in 2004, internet communities have been around since the 1980s. Those of us who were using the internet in those early days remember things like Usenet or IRC (Internet Relay Chat), which we used to communicate with those exploring the net even before the days the web became so focused on graphics. Of course, these tools were not nearly as user-friendly as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, but they were ways for people and businesses to share information with a lot of people.
The social network boom of the first decade of the 21st century was originally believed to be a thing for young people, especially teenagers or college students, who are always looking for more ways to communicate with their friends. Now they’ve grown far beyond that. There are more than 1 billion people who actively use Facebook. 800 million people regularly use YouTube each month. Twitter has 200 million active users.
That is a great deal of potential for marketers who want to expose a business to a huge audience. However, social media platforms are not like traditional advertising platforms. If you’re new to marketing on social media, the rules are much different. Here are some of the big mistakes to avoid.
You Don’t Need to Be on Every Social Network
Not every social media site is good for every business. Each successful social media channel has a particular tone and community. Maybe you don’t really need a Tumblr account for your business. A Facebook post has a different audience and a different impact than a video on YouTube. If you try to participate in everything, you could be reaching the wrong audience and spreading your resources too thinly. Content burnout is common among businesses that try to have their fingers in everything.
It’s Not a Bunch of Billboards
You probably already knew this, but it bears repeating. You can’t be a faceless brand name out there somewhere just slapping up marketing messages. When you present yourself online, show a little of what happens behind the scenes. Photos of you and others in your company as they go about their daily business and maybe some little blurbs about their lives do a great deal to give your company a friendly face.
Your Customers are Turned Off by Marketing
If you look like you’re trying to sell something all the time, a lot of people will just opt not to buy. Instead, offer something of value, like a do-it-yourself video or some difficult-to-find information. Consider your social media strategy like you are having a date with your audience. Don’t make it all about you all the time.
Once You Have a Decent Following, Your Work Is Just Beginning
But fortunately, having all those people looking for your post can make the work to come easier. You can find out directly what they want to see through surveys or outright asking them. One of the best things about social networking is the instant communication it affords. Be warned though, if you get an answer you better come through!
Ditch the Automation
Automation does have its purposes, but if you use it all the time with social marketing people will catch on really quickly. Certain social networks will even penalize you for using automation software to post. In order for your social marketing campaign to be effective, it is an absolute necessity for you to actively participate. You have to have someone posting personal content on a regular basis to really engage your audience and keep their attention.
There Can Definitely Be Too Much Engagement.
Too little is bad thing, but too much is equally bad. Once you’re spamming them every day, it starts to look like you’re just asking for money. It might be your goal to make money, but if your potential customers think that’s all your about they’re not going to want to be a part of your business. Each post should have meaning and purpose.
Social Marketing Should Not Be Social Marketing
Your social marketing campaign is not so much a way to sell things as a way to connect with your customer and show them you care about them, even when they’re not going to buy something from you at that particular point. As it turns out, a lot of the interactions you get from social media won’t be new sales but customer support. Since a customer has a direct channel to you, they’ll be quick to use that to get more information or help when they need it. Take advantage of these opportunities to build good will among your audience.
The rules of engagement for social media are much the same as the rules for having one-on-one interactions with people, it’s just expanded to include you and a lot of your ‘closest’ friends through the use of technology. The biggest rule of thumb when you’re working in the social marketing sphere is to act naturally and be authentic. Being a salesperson doesn’t work as well as being an advisor, a mentor, and a wealth of information.
Shariq Toor is Content Strategist and Outreach Expert at The Marketing Zen Group. He loves discovering the latest trends in Technology, Social Media, and Health. In his off time, he practices landscape photography and keep up with his favorite sports. Twitter: @Shariqtoor