What Is a Common issue With Social Media Marketing Plans?

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Social media marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to marketing your business.

Successful social media strategies for small businesses vary from large companies because every company’s needs are different. However, there are a few common issues that most businesses run into when embarking on a social media campaign.

These issues include:

1. A lack of strategy and planning before posts go live

2. Not giving enough attention to monitoring and responding in a timely manner

3. Failing to put the right metrics in place to measure the success of campaigns

4. Making content updates too frequently or too infrequently/not using social analytics tools to understand what kinds of updates resonate with your audience members best.

The first issue is a lack of strategy and planning before posts go live.

If you don’t have a plan in place before you start posting on social media, you’ll be wasting valuable time and energy on more reactive content creation.  Instead of using your social media channels as another broadcast medium for your business, use them to engage your audience by creating conversations that allow them to share their opinions and feedback with you. Find out what they’re interested in and what they want most from your brand so that you can provide helpful content that will keep them coming back for more. Research also shows that getting user-generated content onto the page through contests or surveys is very effective with customer engagement.

2. Not giving enough attention to monitoring and responding in a timely manner

If you don’t have a dedicated social media manager, or simply don’t have the time to monitor your social channels for comments, reviews,  and customer inquiries yourself, then you’ll want to make sure you’re using an adequate “listening platform”

There are many tools on the market that can help with this. Some of my favorite tools from both categories are:

– SocialMention- a free tool that allows you to search your brand name through over 20 different social media channels and will return mentions of your brand name as well as relevant keywords. You can also see what percentage of each result is positive/negative/neutral so it’s easy to find potential issues/opportunities that you can respond to quickly.

– Google Alerts- a free tool, similar to SocialMention, that allows you to search keywords through Gmail and receive a daily email of new results.  I use this tool primarily for personal use but I’ve found it great as well for keeping up with industry news and staying on top of any buzz from press or PR-related social media channels.

3. Failing to put the right metrics in place to measure success of campaigns

If you’re not tracking the performance of your social media efforts by using tools like Google Analytics or other analytics software, then there’s no way for you to know if your campaign is successful or not! The reason it’s important to track social media data is that you want to understand how your audience interacts with the content you produce. Without tracking, it’s impossible for you to know which types of social updates are most effective or what changes you can make to further boost engagement. One of my favorite metrics to track is Social Authority under the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics. This metric measures your total reach by taking into account all of the engagements with your brand on each channel (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It then takes that number and calculates how influential that engagement was based on an algorithm similar to Klout Score so for example if someone retweets one of your posts, it will increase your authority by 0.4 points per retweet.  It is important to note, however, that this score is quickly becoming much more difficult to control. If your content is performing well and receiving organic engagement without significant Promoted Tweets/Boosted Facebook posts, then someone outside of your current audience could share it which will decrease the overall Authority.

4. Failing to use social analytics tools to understand what kinds of updates resonate with your audience members best

If you’re using Post Planner or Hootsuite to schedule your social media updates but are not tracking the performance of each update through another tool like Bufferapp, then you can’t give any feedback on how successful (or not) a post was at generating real engagement by measuring original comments versus retweets, etc.  Post Planner specifically allows for you to click on each update and see the engagement it received (tweets, likes, shares), where on Facebook you can access this information through your Insights Dashboard.  I recommend using Post Planner for one main reason:

If you schedule your updates with both tools then use Hootsuite to promote the ones that are performing well in Post Planner into your Twitter feed for extra exposure.

5. Not taking advantage of real-time feedback during events  

Social media is extremely powerful when it comes to creating real-time dialogue around brand-sponsored events or contests. There are many different ways companies benefit from leveraging social media at live events but one of my favorites is connecting directly with those who otherwise would not have normally been able to attend the event.

One of my favorite examples of this is how Ustream uses Twitter to create a virtual conference for people not in New York, like myself, who otherwise could not make it out to their conferences such as UStream Evolve and other music-related events (i.e. Coachella). If you aren’t using social media chat rooms or other tools at your events then consider adding them next time!  It’s important, however, that your company remains involved throughout the entire process and engages with all of the individuals who are sharing/commenting on the event via Twitter and Facebook. This would be a great opportunity for you to promote any speakers or sponsors while ensuring that everyone has the chance to participate.

6. Failing to use social media analytics tools to quantify brand sentiment and identify opportunities for improvement

This point is similar to the first one I mentioned but it’s important enough that I felt like it needed its own bullet.  Think about how many brands post daily on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and yet don’t ever measure how those updates perform beyond vanity metrics such as total Likes or Followers.  I think we all know which companies fall into this category, so hopefully, they’ll stop now! Since social media marketing relies heavily (and sometimes almost entirely) on user-generated content, marketers need to understand what kinds of conversations are occurring around your brand before you can do anything about them. The only way this information will be valuable is if you’re listening to what people are saying about your brand.  If someone is tweeting/posting something negative about your company, then do something about it! If they are complimenting your product or service, then acknowledge them and ask them for their contact information so that you can reach out to them directly.

7. Focusing on growing total social audiences instead of actual customers  

The only reason brands invest in social media now is because they see how much engagement (and potential sales) the platform has the potential to generate. Since Facebook has become increasingly difficult for brand pages to acquire Likes without paying for ads, marketers have naturally turned towards building up Followers through Twitter instead (which costs money but not as much).

The problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t actually increase your brand’s exposure to the people who are most likely to become customers. The best marketers know that audience size isn’t always indicative of how successful a campaign or initiative will be (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). As such, you should continue investing in growing your total social media audiences but…

8. Confusing increased traffic and growth in Follower/Like bases with growth in actual sales  

I mentioned above that increasing your social media followings can help generate more exposure for your brand and even drive more website traffic.  This is absolutely true but there’s no guarantee that any of the people following you on Twitter or Liking on Facebook will ever buy anything from you.  In fact, they may simply be there to receive information and never actually make a purchase at all (in which case you’d probably want to employ retargeting ads on social media as well).

What marketers need to remember is that growing your audience for the sake of having more people who can potentially buy your product or service (or click on your website) isn’t necessarily going to increase sales. If you’re posting interesting, engaging stories on Facebook and sharing helpful tips on Twitter but you’re not also promoting offers/discounts then you aren’t going to see an increased amount of revenue. You must incentivize your followers/fans with something that is valuable enough that they’ll eventually come back and buy from you!

This article first appeared on Social Media Examiner.

Citations: (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/8-problematic-issues-in-social-media-marketing/ Ragan, S. (2014). 8 Problematic Issues in Social Media Marketing | PR Daily. PR Daily 1(3). Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://blog.hubspot.com/knotwire/8-commonly-overlooked-mistakes-in-social

PR WEEK US,. (2014). 8 common mistakes made by brands on social media – PR Week – prweekus | a rennie communications website..