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Common Mistakes to Avoid With Social Media Marketing

When used the right way, social media marketing can be a powerful lead generation machine. However, to be effective at generating leads for your business, you should approach social media marketing to engage with your target audience and provide solutions to problems rather than as a selling or promotional tool.

Here are some common mistakes that could damage the results you are able to generate from social media, ultimately leading to a failed campaign.

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Here are common mistakes to avoid when using social media for marketing your business:

Not having a strategy or plan.

Creating a comprehensive social media strategy is as important as having a business plan. A specific social media plan that you can incorporate into your overall business strategy is absolutely essential in order for your social media efforts to have any hope of success. Your social media marketing strategy should outline a clear vision of exactly what you want to achieve, identify the most effective social networking platforms for your business, and define the tactics you plan to use in the process.

Without a clear vision, well-mapped plan and strategic approach, your marketing efforts will be random and chaotic, and largely ineffectual. The campaign will be unfocused and the results you do get will be weak and disjointed. Ensuring that your marketing efforts are guided by a clearly defined strategy will bring direction, focus and discipline to your social media marketing campaign.

Taking shortcuts.

Social media requires a significant time commitment, and for that reason, some people choose to take shortcuts. One of the shortcuts they take is by scheduling updates to be posted automatically so they don’t have to be present on the platform. Others link their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter updates together. This may seem harmless enough, and has been recommended by a number of experts as it helps to maintain your visibility on the platforms. It is also a time saver. The fact is, it is a really bad idea.

People that use these different social media platforms all have different personalities and mindsets, and it is impossible to craft messages that are suitable for all three platforms at once. You are not being genuine and in time, people will get wise to what you’re doing. You will certainly not attract more people to your brand. Furthermore, it could have serious implications for your brand. Linking platforms is something to stay away from doing.

Focusing on quantity, not quality.

Plenty of business owners wrongly believe that having large numbers of fans on their Facebook page is the hallmark of a successful marketing campaign. This simply isn’t true. Social media is about one thing and one thing only: engagement. It is more important to focus on the level of engagement.

Having 50 engaged Facebook fans who comment and like your status updates is better than having 1,000,000 passive fans who never interact with your page, and are not interested in you or your business. Engaged users are more likely to support your company or buy your products.

Not engaging with your target audience.

Social media is about being “social”, and you need to interact and actively engage with your target audience. Its all about community building. You need to show your personality and your humanness. Ask questions and respond to comments. Post interesting pictures. Share useful content that your users will enjoy, such as industry news or relevant tips, and not just self-promotional information about your business, products or services. Comment on other pages and share other people’s content.

Engaging with other people makes them more likely to engage with you and comment on your pages. Leverage social media to create meaningful relationships with current customers and prospects, forge bonds with industry peers, and strengthen relationships through online engagement. Its about finding ways to provide value to those you interact with.

If there is a conversation going on about your industry between potential customers and you’re not listening, you are leaving money on the table for those competitors that are listening and engaging with your target audience. If your conversation is completely one-sided, you will turn people off, and they will eventually begin to ignore you. That will spell disaster for your brand’s image.

Spamming your target audience.

One major mistake that you can make with social media is to treat every post as an opportunity to promote your business. Social media is not the place to apply traditional marketing techniques, engage in heavy sales tactics, or send spam-like communications. Doing that will only serve to damage your brand and alienate the very people you’re trying to reach.

Although there’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences and the value of your business, products and services, social media marketing tools are vastly different from other marketing tools and requires a completely different approach, mindset and strategy. If you over-do it, self-promote to people who know nothing about you or your brand, or adopt the habits of salesmen of old (even slightly), you’re going to be ignored and overlooked.

Not tracking statistics.

It is extremely important to analyze the statistics from your various social media sites so that you can access and refine your approach as required. Bad reviews of a business spreads much faster than good reviews, so it makes good business sense for businesses to always keep their eyes on what customers and prospective customers are saying about a business on their Twitter feeds, blogs and on their Facebook pages.

In addition, by tracking and monitoring your progress on the various social media platforms, you can gain valuable insights such as what time of day your customers are most active, what types of posts bring the highest levels of engagement, etc. Zeroing in on these key stats and using them to shape your overall social media strategy will make your efforts will make your efforts that much more successful.

Spreading yourself too thin.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in social media is to try and be everywhere – it simply just won’t work. Stretching yourself across a wide range of social media platforms will mean you are spending too much time with fewer quality results. To be successful in social media marketing, you must first understand what each platforms purpose is, and how this will relate to your business.

Developing a meaningful presence on all of these sites will only help your business if you have the time to develop meaningful, site-specific content for each.

Expecting immediate payback.

Social media won’t lead to overnight success. Social media is about building an affinity with your audience so when the time comes, they’ll make the purchase you were seeking. It is unlike SEO or search marketing where the goal is to reach people searching for what you have to offer and make an instant purchase.

For example, let’s say you sell French lessons for English speakers through your website, and have created a Facebook Page that is all about learning French. Imagine that you have a number of fans who are somewhat interested in learning French and they engage and interact with your Page quite frequently because you post a lot of great content including free introductory tutorials and how-tos, interactive images that help learning the language quicker and easier, articles, etc.

You also demonstrate your expertise by sharing videos of yourself conversing in French with one of your students, and those fans who are somewhat interested in the language are able to really make good progress in their learning, just from engaging with your page on a regular basis.

One day, a fan of your Page, Plato, decides he’s ready to take the plunge and purchase a French course. Over time he has been receiving promotional emails from different training schools who have not built a relationship with John, like you have. In all likelihood, John will purchase from you because of the relationship you have developed and nurtured over time.

That is how social media works. Building an engaged community with social media will take time and dedication. After getting people to follow you, you’ll need to take the time to nurture the relationships. Success will come in increased awareness of your brand, referrals, traffic and eventually, sales.

Many of the people in your audience may not be ready to purchase right now, so don’t expect immediate results. Focus on providing quality, and the results may be slow coming, but they are sure to follow in time. What is more, they will be highly qualified and already familiar with and engaged with your brand.

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