Over half of the world’s population uses social media. So by not taking advantage of these platforms in a digital marketing strategy, a business is missing out on fast, inexpensive, and effective ways to reach its target audience. But many businesses are put off growing their social media presence because they don’t see the benefits, or even worse they dive right in and make many common mistakes.
In this social media 101, we’ll help you see positives, and side-step the many pitfalls by understanding where so many companies go wrong.
Four positives of social media
1. It lets you start a conversation
Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn – these are some of the most well-known social media platforms out there. People are on them all day, every day and literally every minute. So unlike in the past a business can now have a conversation with its consumers whenever it wants. For a business this means it provides a great opportunity to:
- Reach out to old and new audiences with engaging, targeted content
- Build trust and authority in the brand
- Create a brand personality
- Engage audiences at the perfect time
2. It offers so many options
The first thing you need to do when building a social media strategy is decide which platforms are right for you. Not all of them will be. If you have a lot of older, professional customers, TikTok might not be the way to go, but LinkedIn and Twitter might, for example.
Then you need to think about what actions you wish to take and when, because there is so much you can do with social media. Just being responsive to queries influences 48% of consumers to purchase. Offering promotions (46%), providing educational content (42%), sharing interesting facts and visuals (38%) and even being funny (36%), are highly effective actions that you can incorporate into your strategy too.
3. It informs you
Social media is not all take. It gives so much back to a brand too. The analytics a business can mine are a real eye-opener about what consumers think the brand, product, and strategy, as well as informing about what an audience likes, dislikes, where they go, and how they respond in certain situations. Having a strong social media presence therefore can mean having a strong market research department too.
4. It increases sales
Time and time again, done right, social has been shown to be a highly effective way to build profit. It is so powerful that 71% of us admit to being more likely to purchase a product based on a social media referral. As humans we are influenced by the experiences and views of others. Just adding a like button, for example, has been shown to drastically increase for many brands including Levi’s and American Eagle.
The mistakes companies make
Ok, benefits of social media aside, let’s now look at what you need to watch out for so you do not get social media wrong. The following four mistakes top our list of social media blunders that companies tend to make.
1. Not being relevant or consistent
You’re starting a conversation with your target audience, so make sure it’s the right topic of conversation. Ask yourself what value are you adding? Back in 2019, research from Sprout Social revealed something startling about consumer behaviour when judging the relevance of Facebook and Twitter posts: If they were consistently not of any use to them, then 51% of the 1,011 responders said they would unfollow.
Fashion retailer Boohoo do a good job of staying relevant to their young target audience by integrating influencer endorsements and pop-culture and keeping a laid-back tone. Nesquik did a bad job recently when they launched National Bunny Ears Day, with an app to suit. The problem is no one knew what this was, why it was relevant and why they needed yet another app.
“Fashion retailer Boohoo does a good business of staying relevant to their young target audience by integrating influencer endorsements and pop-culture and keeping a laid-back tone.”
2. Not focusing on content
It’s not all sell, sell, sell. Sure, some use of social media is about ads. It’s about getting the ad placement right, on the right platform, targeted at the right people, with an understanding of how these people interact with ads. It’s about having the right budget to optimise their effectiveness.
But it’s also about providing useful content. This comes back to that idea of relevancy but pushes it on too. A good example of what I mean are how home depot stores like Walmart in the US and B&Q in the UK rarely push their products. They provide content on how to use them and use Twitter to provide advice and help. How to build a shed, lay a patio or plaster a wall, for example. Far more engaging, more useful and maybe even far more likely to sell.
3. Not boosting
This is probably one of the most ignored aspects of social media strategy. There’s this belief that the post will be enough by itself. Maybe it will go viral. But you can give it a nudge by boosting the content.
So what does this mean? Simply put, boosting means paying to promote a post on one of the platforms. It’s vital because this spreads your word away from just your followers, allowing you to reach similar people who don’t follow your account but may well be interested in your product or services.
4. Not doing research
Please don’t forget to do your research. Again, this is so frequently missed when releasing content, but is so vital if you don’t want to go viral for all the wrong reasons. If you have a campaign, research what it means in other cultures, whether it could be twisted in a way you didn’t intend, or whether something similar is being used to mean something entirely different.
Just ask DiGiorno, the pizza brand in the US. They launched the hashtag #WhyIStayed to promote one of their products. Their problem was that this hashtag was already being used to discuss domestic abuse.
These societal aspects of promoting on social media is often what makes people nervous and shy away. But a lot of it can be side-stepped with a little pre-thought.
Learn from mistakes
Like anything, you may well make a mistake when promoting on social media. But don’t let the fear of that stop you from doing it. Mistakes are there to be learned from, and hopefully I’ve managed to show you a bit about how powerful and useful social media can be for your company.