The problem with social media is that everything moves so fast that it's hard to know which mistakes you're making
Social media is a minefield. There are so many people saying what you should and shouldn’t be doing, that it’s hard to know where to start.
And, like everything, when you do start it’s common to start making mistakes.
But the problem with social media is that everything moves so fast that it’s hard to know which mistakes you’re making, and the impact it’s having on your results.
So, let’s get back to basics.
There are three fundamental mistakes that social media marketers – including you – make a lot of the time. And, if you can take care of them, you’ll find a significant improvement in your results in no time at all.
If you’re ready, let’s get started on them!
What Are The Most Common Social Media Mistakes?
Here’s where most marketers fall down:
- Not making conversation
- Not being helpful
- Not adding value
In this article you’re going to break each one of these mistakes down, and see how you can improve your social media strategy right now.
Mistake #1: Not Making Conversation
If you’re making this mistake, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, 91% of social media marketers admit to making this mistake, according to Social Media Examiners yearly report.
So let’s take a closer look at where you’re going wrong…
Broadcasting Is For Television
Social media isn’t a broadcast service. Instead, it’s a conversation.
Your customers are there to engage with you, to talk to you, to like and favourite and share and tell you what they’re thinking in that moment.
You wouldn’t walk into a bar, stand on a chair, and start shouting out all of your wonderful qualities, would you? People would leave, ignore you or get frustrated at what you’re doing.
Instead you’d work the room.
You’d go around and talk to people. Make jokes, recommend a few drinks, tell a couple of stories and ask questions. Listening, responding and engaging to the people you’re talking to.
Treat your social media feeds the same way.
Instead of saying, “Hey, look at me!” you want your updates to say, “Hey, what do you think about this?”
Which means it’s time for you to put engagement at the heart of your updates.
Or as Ted Coine the author of A World Gone Social puts it. You need to make your focus:
Creating Engaging Updates
How you choose to engage your audience comes down to the goals you have for your strategy.
Do you want to get:
- More people to read your content?
- More people to come to your site?
- More shares and Retweets?
- More comments?
- Answers to questions?
Only you can answer that, and there is no right answer here, just what you’re looking to achieve.
But engagement and conversation should be at the heart of them all.
Each outcome needs a slightly different strategy. So let’s look at the most engaging updates as a whole, so you can choose what works well for you.
There really are no drawbacks to using images on your updates, no matter the goal.
They create emotion and relevance for your updates, and visual content is absorbed 60,000x quicker than written content.
Which can lead to:
That means adding an image to your post isn’t only beneficial, it’s almost essential for any social media strategy.
Damn Good Quotes
QuickSprout did some interesting research on the best performing types of content – an update counts as content – on social media. And, among the most effective was quotes.
That is, those emotional, hard-hitting quotes that apply to your niche.
They found that people who used quotes had 847% more Retweets and 43% more followers than those that didn’t.
If you’re looking to grow your presence, and get more people to see your brand, this is a great place to start. Especially if you get someone your audience is interested in, too.
Plus, you can take advantage of all the benefits of images too, by turning a quote into an image, like this one:
The same QuickSprout research also found that people who asked their audience questions had 1,050% more replies than those who didn’t.
So if you’re looking to gain more insight from (or start a more in-depth conversation with) your audience, it’s time to start thinking of some compelling questions to ask.
But take the advice of Likeable Media CEO Dave Kerpen, and only ask questions that are easy for your audience to answer.
One Important Question
I want to give you one question as your gut check before you send out an update to the world. Ask yourself:
“Will my readers care?”
Would they be interested in reading, knowing about or sharing the update you just put out there? If not, head back to the drawing board.
Mistake #2: Not Being Helpful
Okay, I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Because this is a mistake you’re probably making quite often, but it’s easy to fix.
What Do You Mean, Not Being Helpful?
Social Media is seen as a sales tool. It’s the top of the funnel. It’s getting people into your system, and then pressing the right buttons until they buy from you.
Well, not quite.
If you turn your social media feed into a sales tool, it’s going to get disregarded pretty quickly. It’s not about pushing the hard sell or trying to shove your product down people’s throats.
Instead, it’s about the customer experience.
How does your feed make them feel? Do they take value from it? Do they enjoy what you’re putting out there? Do they want to interact with you?
Yes, social media should be part of your sales funnel. But it shouldn’t be the focus. You should treat it as a gateway where you can help them to buy from you.
The best way to combat this is to adjust the frequency of what you’re posting.
A More Helpful Strategy
At the moment your feed probably looks a little like this:
- Your own content
- Product placement
- Someone else’s content
- Product Placement
- Your own content
Or, something along those lines. Because it’s all about getting your content seen.
But I want you to set yourself a posting frequency that focuses on adding value (more on what adds value next), and less on plugging your products.
I like the methods Buffer suggested here:
- 5-3-2: five pieces of content from someone else, three from you and two personal updates.
- Thirds: One third of what you share is yours, one third comes from others and one third is promotion.
- The Golden Ratio (30/60/10): 30% is owned content, 60% is curated from elsewhere and 10% is promotional.
I like the 5-3-2 approach because the numbers are easy to work with. But you can choose, or test, any approach and see what works for you.
Either way, by changing how you post, you go from a place of offering nothing but sales pitches, to offering solid content – from valuable sources – that will help your readers choose you in the future.
Mistake #3: Not Adding Value
Value is the only reason, ever, that someone follows you on social media.
That’s not an estimation, or a best guess, that’s a fact.
Because people don’t follow people, products or companies they don’t care about.
It’s why you’re not following the updates of your local garden centre, or pool table manufacturer or the people who re-sole shoes at the mall.
They don’t add value to you.
And if you’re not adding value to your customers – and I don’t mean monetary value, or cheap products, I mean content or updates that enrich your reader’s life – then they won’t pay attention to you.
The Red Bull Effect
Red Bull have got value down to a tee.
If you look around their social media feeds, you will see little to no mention of their products whatsoever. In fact, you’d have to go out of your way to find their flagship drink.
Instead, they’ve turned themselves into the world leading extreme sports media brand…that just happens to sell an energy drink.
Why did they do this?
Because instead updates about “Hey, look at this energy drink we sell, it’s neat, huh?”, they found that their audience responds far better to adrenaline pumping sports updates like this:
And if the people who drink their drink can do that, you feel compelled to buy it, because you want to do cool stuff too.
This is value to the reader at its finest.
They don’t want to know 7 Reasons Red Bull Is The Best Energy Drink ever. Or about the new can that they released.
They want to see a guy set himself on fire and go surfing:
Find What Your Audience Want (And Give It To Them)
Maybe your product isn’t as exiting as Red Bulls is. But, your audience probably isn’t looking for that excitement either.
Instead, they’re probably looking for something around your topic that is exciting to them.
So you need to go out and ask them what it is. What they’re looking for, and why.
There are so many niches to think of right now that I can’t even begin to suggest topics for you to try. Which means you’re going to have to go out there and ask them exactly what it is that they’re looking for.
And when you find it, give it to them in abundance.
Hopefully you’ve spotted some of your own mistakes in here, and are already starting to wonder about what you can do about them.
But let’s look at the main points of what you need to work on:
- Start Conversations: Engagement is key. It’s at the heart of the social age. So, create updates – with images, quotes and questions – that hook your reader in and make them talk to you.
- Be Helpful: Put sales on the backburner. Focus on how you can help your audience, even by just changing how you post your content, so that you help them to choose you.
- Add Value: Find what your audience want, and give it to them. Like Red Bull did for their audience. Get to know them and provide value in abundance. That’s when they’ll really start to care about you.
All that’s left to ask is, which one are you going to work on first?
Find out more on the future of Content Marketing at our DLUK - Trends briefing on the 24th September 2015