There are around 2.3 billion active social media users in the world today. Given its ubiquity, for a brand not to have a presence on social media is folly. But the greater folly is to spend time and effort trying to market your brand on social media, but achieve very little success because you’re going about it the wrong way. Here’s a list of five ways not to do marketing on social media:
1. Trying to use social media to give a sales pitch
People use social media to be informed or entertained. People don’t use social media to be bombarded with ads telling them how amazing a particular product or brand is. If your brand only posts advertising material on its social media channels, users will be turned off. Instead, provide your users with compelling content that educates or entertains them. This could include blogs or opinions about the industry your brand is associated with, or even content that has little relevance to your industry but could be funny or amusing for your users. Once you’ve grabbed the attention of your users using this sort of content, then your brand can be more upfront and start talking about its products. At this point, users will also be more receptive to hearing about products because you’ve developed a positive relationship with them by providing them with constructive content.
2. Posting content infrequently
Many brands make the mistake of initially posting a lot of content on their social media channels, but afterwards posting less and less content. To build an audience on social media rather than lose one, content needs to be posted regularly and over the long-term. While there is no hard and fast rule on how frequently you should post, platforms such as Facebook should receive at least several updates per week, whereas platforms such as Twitter where content is more concise and can be consumed more rapidly should receive several updates per day. It helps to develop a content calendar which plans out what content you want to post and on what days and times.
3. Failing to converse with your users
Even if you post the right type of content, this is not usually sufficient to maintain an active community of users on your social media channels. Beyond posting content, your brand has to converse with its users. This means responding to comments people make on your social media channels, especially if they’re asking questions about your brand. Failing to do so risks users disengaging from your brand. According to research by Lithium technologies, more than 70% of users expect to hear back from the brand they are interacting with on Twitter. It’s recommended to appoint a team of dedicated community managers to respond to queries from your audience on social media channels in a respectful and honest way.
4. Failing to integrate social media with your other marketing strategies
If your brand has a particular tone, logo and style in print or television media, but has a very different tone, logo and style on your social media channels, then this is likely to confuse users regarding what your brand is stands for. Your branding should be consistent across all your different marketing channels, and this requires coordination between the teams responsible for marketing your brand across the different channels.
5. Going after the wrong influencers
One of the more recent marketing techniques on social media is for a brand to develop a relationship with an ‘influencer’ – a person who has a loyal following on social media. The hope is for the influencer to disseminate a positive image about the brand to their followers. But this tactic often fails because brands go after influencers with the largest number of followers, rather than influencers who are relevant and professional.
A relevant influencer has similar interests and is from a similar demographic to the audience your brand is targeting. A professional influencer doesn’t make it a habit of attacking brands frequently or posting offensive opinions. The influencer will represent your brand to your target audience, so relevancy and professionalism are critical attributes the influencer should have. A healthy following is also important, of course, but it shouldn’t take precedence over these two attributes.
It all comes down to effective planning
A successful social media marketing strategy requires effective planning. In fact, all the mistakes mentioned above can be avoided if a good plan is in place prior to establishing a presence for your brand on social media. Your plan should include ideas of what compelling (but not sales) content you’d like to share, a content calendar outlining when that content will be posted, an engagement strategy which involves hiring community managers to converse with your users, an integration scheme which ensures your brand messaging on social media does not deviate from your brand messaging elsewhere, and finally a list of relevant and professional influencers to develop relationships with.
If you go into social media marketing fully prepared, you’ll be in the best position to exploit this powerful medium to gain fantastic exposure for your brand.
Colby Jones is senior account director and deputy managing consultant at Text100 Hong Kong, a member of the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong (CPRFHK).