The 5 quickest ways to fail at social media marketing

social media marketing

Social media seems like such a cheap and easy way of engaging with customers that it is often used by companies with little marketing expertise. Profile pages are set up, a few updates are posted… and then what? Here’s the 5 quickest ways for businesses to fail at social media marketing.

1. The incomplete account

You’ve taken the plunge and set up some social media profiles for your company and have sent out your first few status updates. Yet you’ve not quite got round to filling out your profile information or finding a profile image that works well in the defined dimensions of each channel. You can do that later right? Wrong.

Anonymous profile imageAn incomplete profile looks sloppy and will not encourage people to engage with your brand. Profile photos, images and descriptive text are the articulation of your brand online so you should put the same effort into those as you do your website.

How to fix it

After identifying the social media channels that are right for your company, and where your audience will be the next step is to spend time completing and optimising the profiles. Use your keywords, a punchy description and high quality image and logo files. Connect your social accounts to each other so that Google identifies them as the same organisation. This will give your company a rounded social media presence, even if you have decided to only be active on a few channels.

2. The ghost account

All too often social accounts are opened and populated with a few updates, then abandoned. What does this say about your brand? A visitor to your profile page may assume you have emigrated or business has gone under.

Worse still, if your customers are posting comments or questions to your profile page and not getting a response, then you are failing at social. Social media channels are a great opportunity to engage with customers and demonstrate that you listen and respond to comments.

How to fix it

If you are struggling for time or resource to check and update your social media channels then you should identify a frequency that suits you (for example, daily, twice weekly) and schedule time in your diary to complete these tasks. Be upfront with your customers about frequency and expected response times to manage their expectations.

3. Irrelevant content

BurgerHands up how many of you have tweeted about the weather or what you had for lunch? Unless those topics are relevant to your brand (you’re a weather reporter or a restaurant!) and are interesting to your audience then please don’t do it. Each and every update should add value to your followers by being useful or entertaining. An irrelevant post is a sure sign of a company that has lost its way on social media, and it is the first step to losing the interest and engagement of your followers. Unless your brand operates in this space keep edgy content for your personal social media profiles.

How to avoid it

Plan your content themes based around your marketing messages and audience personas. Keep your themes fairly broad to enable you to pick up on anything newsworthy that relates to your subject areas. Don’t ever post when you’ve had a tipple, if you are angry/sad or have strong opinions that might offend your followers.

4. Automated updates

There are two ways in which automated updates can damage your social media profile. The first is if you link your social media accounts so that one cross-posts to the other; the second is if you set your social media management software to automatically re-post the same message repeatedly.

It might seem really handy for one profile to automatically post to another, but it is considered bad practice. It gives the impression that a robot is running the social media accounts, not a human.  I have a contact on LinkedIn who automatically updates his profile with all of his tweets. That level of frequency is far too high for LinkedIn. The result – I have hidden his updates from my LinkedIn news feed and his opportunity to influence me is lost.

How to fix it

As tempting as it is you should disable the auto updates features you have installed, and start to schedule and write your updates for each social media channel separately to suit the format and audience of each. You may find some easy ways to cut your workload without sacrificing on quality.

5. Typos and broken links

Grammar and SpellingText speak and abbreviations may be appropriate when texting your friends but on a business-run social media profile they are out of place. Check grammar and spelling before you post, and if you spot an error straight after posting consider deleting and re-posting or sending a corrected update (which can be done in such a way as to show your human side). A catalogue of poor spelling and grammar will not show your business in the best light and customers may think that your business delivers work of an equally poor standard.

How to fix them

Broken links in an update mean that all your hard work is for nothing, so check that the link works, particularly if you have scheduled an update for the future. You can control your site links but other sites have a habit of moving their content about resulting in links being broken and a dead end for the reader.

How to avoid these mistakes?

The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to start with a social media strategy. This needn’t be too daunting a task, even for those without any marketing experience. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What does my company offer (services, products, what sets me apart from the competition?)
  • Who is most likely to take up my services/buy my products (age, geography, interests, etc)
  • What are the benefits of my offer for my customer? What problem am I trying to solve for them?
  • What is my company’s tone of voice? (formal, professional, casual, quirky)
  • Where can I find my customers? Online and offline? (this may include some social media channels but equally may not)
  • How much time and money do I have to put into marketing?
  • How will I measure the success of my marketing effort and spend?
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Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), specialising in education and services marketing. A Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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