December 11, 2020 10 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
When I first got into marketing, it had been long enough that a lot of people said the internet was just a fad. Years later, when social media became a thing, most people said the same thing about it. Today it is clear how ridiculous those theories were, but there is still a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about social media.
Many people have expectations that are too high or too low for the results to expect, how much work goes into them, and how best to use them. This misinformation harms them, either directly, by doing the wrong things and hurting their brand, or indirectly, by wasting time and money on ineffective strategies and tactics.
I want to help you avoid these costly and time-consuming mistakes so you can build the business you deserve, serve more people, and bring more value to the world. So let’s talk about some of the most common mistakes people make on social media, how to avoid them and what to do instead so that you can maximize your results.
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Inconsistent booking activity
Many people start out super motivated with their social media, but that motivation quickly fades for most.
This attitude is understandable. Entrepreneurs are incredibly busy at first. When you combine this with the fact that many have unrealistic expectations about how long results will last, it is easy to see why they often stop soon after they start. But most understand the importance of social media and keep trying, resulting in a cycle of repeated starting and stopping.
The problem that has arisen here is diverse. First is the problem of dynamics. If you’ve ever had to push a broken vehicle, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s much easier to keep it moving than it is to start moving from a dead point.
Once you get into a routine with your social media endeavors, you will find that you start to grow your results exponentially without increasing your work exponentially. It becomes easier to block out the required time, come up with ideas for content, and interact with followers.
The second problem is audience perception. Generally, when customers see you appear inconsistent on social media, with weeks or months between posts, they’ll question your consistency. However, when they see that you regularly post valuable content day in and day out, they assume that you are equally consistent in other aspects of your business.
Third are the algorithms that determine what is shown in people’s feeds. When you post consistently, you “train” the algorithm to get your content to more people more often – provided that your audience finds it useful, of course. As a result, more people will be engaging with your content, which indicates to the algorithm that it is valuable and even more people should be shown. It doesn’t take a genius to see how this can result in massive exposure.
Publish off-brand content
It can sometimes seem difficult to create enough content to maintain a strong presence on social media. To fill these gaps, some people post content that is interesting, informative, or entertaining, but not related to their brand. This is the equivalent of talking just to talk, and it hurts your brand because it dilutes what your brand is about.
The “rules” vary a little from platform to platform and even from brand to brand. The basic premise, however, is that it doesn’t necessarily always have to be about your company, but that everything you publish has to be in line with your brand’s core values and personality.
A good approach is to pick three to five core topics that you are passionate about. My topics include, for example:
Any content I develop for social media falls into one of these categories. You have to take the same approach.
When choosing your topics, it is important that at least one or two topics are directly linked to the products or services you are offering through storytelling and analogies, and that each of your three to five topics is closely related to what your brand stands for .
In general, one or two are directly related to what you do for your customers, and the remaining topics depend on who you are and why you do what you do.
The first group is obvious because that’s what you do. The second group may be less obvious, but is often the same (if not more important) as people typically choose a brand based on whether it aligns with their own values.
Each social network is its own environment, and what works on one may not work on another, and what is acceptable on one can turn customers off on another. There can even be unique nuances within a network.
For example, you can usually post things on your personal Facebook profile that are branded but may not be suitable for your publicly accessible page on the same network. And content that works great for Facebook may not be ideal for Instagram or Twitter without significant rework.
Understanding who your audience is and what resonates with them on each platform is important.
Ask friends to like / follow your page
This is easily one of the most common mistakes, and we have all seen the innocent contributions that led to it.
Someone could open a post with a story about trying to grow their business, serve more people, or even bypass Facebook’s lousy organic reach, and then ask their connections to like their page.
On the surface, this seems harmless. What’s wrong with more people liking your site? The reality is that this can have profound adverse effects.
Most sites don’t have many followers at first, and for many brands, most of those followers are friends and family who will never buy. And because they’re not a potential customer, they are unlikely to be engaging with that brand’s content.
This negatively skews your engagement rate, which affects your organic reach. In other words, if a lower percentage of people are engaging with your content, the algorithm that supports the feed will assume that people are not interested in the content, so it will be viewed less often. Unsurprisingly, this creates a vicious downward spiral that leads to darkness.
Inviting people who aren’t potential customers to like your page will increase your number of followers, but it will also distort your actual interaction with “ghost” followers, so you will reach fewer people. Instead, focus on getting an audience of potential customers.
Add random people to your groups
We all hate being added to irrelevant groups without our permission, and yet there is no mechanism to prevent it.
Every day I’m added to a number of groups – sometimes well-intentioned friends, sometimes people trying to advance a political ideology, and sometimes scruffy marketers who are “just trying to help me with their” great “things” . Products or services. In all cases, the end result is usually the same: we immediately have a negative perception of your brand as a result.
There are times when it is acceptable to invite people to your group without talking to them beforehand, but only if you already have a real relationship (as opposed to someone you are currently connected with) and really know they are interested . To put it in context, I recently started a group that I’ve been planning for a while and I’ve only invited 0.008% of my connections.
If you invite random people to a group without their permission, marketers will be on par with the people who occupy the kiosks in the mall trying to track you and sell you their trash as you walk by. It’s shabby and desperate and makes a bad impression of your brand.
Another downside is that having a bunch of disinterested, disengaged people in your group will destroy your engagement. This algorithmically pains you, which means that Facebook is showing it to fewer people as fewer people are interacting with your content. It also hurts you from a brand perception perspective. Think of it this way: What would your impression be if you went to a group of thousands of people, but the posts in that group had little to no likes or comments? So it is important that we have the right people in our groups.
A better approach than simply clicking the invite button and adding a bunch of names is to invite them manually, via email, DM, or even organic or paid posts. This gives them the opportunity to sign up if they are interested, without forcing it. It also helps make sure you find the right people in your group.
Put social media on autopilot
Many tasks can and should be automated, but some go too far. Certain aspects of social media can be automated, but not your entire campaign.
When most people are wrong, they sign up for a social media posting tool like Meet Edgar, Hootsuite, or Buffer, queue up a bunch of posts – usually it’s just links to their articles – and just let it go to run. They don’t bother engaging with their audience, and as a result, two things happen.
The first problem is that their audience will see that they don’t really care about them. It becomes clear that they are only using social media to get their message on to anyone who happens to see it. A bit like the shopping mall salespeople we talked about earlier. It does not look good.
This has both immediate and long-term negative effects on your brand and also leads to the second problem. The second problem is that the algorithm starts to downgrade their content because nobody is interested. Fewer people who see it means even less engagement, which means that even fewer people will see it, which means even fewer people will see it, which means … I think you get the idea. If you’re old enough, this situation may remind you of the old cocaine publicity notice in the 1980s that seemed to run on every commercial break. Basically, there is a strong downward spiral from which it is often difficult to climb back.
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If you want solid results from your social media endeavors, you need to do more than just publish a steady stream of content. You need to actually engage with your audience and show them that you actually care about them.