Type into Google the keyword phrase “Social Media Marketing”) and you’ll see upwards of 1,170,000,000 (that’s 1.7BILLION) articles on the topic. We debate it; we slice it and dice it and we look for ‘tips and tricks’ on how to get better at it. Sometimes, taking the opposite approach and learning from others mistakes is an effective way to learn as well -“what not to do”, if you will. Here are 5 common mistakes made by companies both large and small in the social media marketing (SMM) arena.

Mistake #1 – You underestimate the power of a quality social media presence.

Social media marketing may still be in its infancy but the trend is clear – it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. More and more companies are beginning to realize the potential of social media in establishing their brand and maintaining relationships with their customers. Social media advertising may not be right for all companies, but I can count on one hand which industries those companies are in.

How do you avoid underestimating the power of a strong SMM presence? Research! There’s no need to completely re-invent the wheel. Social media marketing is still up and coming to an extent, but not entirely. Take some time to locate information on effective and ineffective campaigns in the form of white papers, case studies and even blogs online. You’d be surprised at the amount of free information available online that can help you build a successful campaign strategy!

Mistake #2 – You think your disposable account direct message campaign will be effective.

You want to know the fastest way to turn off current and potential customers with a social media campaign? Label yourself as spam by blindly tweeting or messaging users without first establishing yourself with the customer. You could be the most established brand in the world or have the best, most revolutionary product in the world. If you invade a social media user’s space without invitation, you’ve started down the path of the lonely (and short-lived) social media spammer.

How do you avoid disposable account direct message campaigns? Simple! Plan out an effective, engaging and non-spamming campaign that will actually draw your potential customers in rather than alienating them with unwanted and unsolicited messages.

Mistake #3 – You apply the same set of ‘rules’ to social media marketing as you do to other mediums. 


Difference #1 – Engagement vs Message


The rules that apply to other marketing mediums don’t necessarily hold true when it comes to SMM. Social media marketing is more about the engagement factor and less about the ‘message’. Yes, it helps to have a strong message in any campaign, but it doesn’t have to be the end-all in SMM.

Difference #2 – Organic vs Instant


Social media marketing is also much more organic than traditional media and can take some time to cultivate. Yes, you can have a campaign ‘go viral’ and be an instant success (or failure), but generally speaking SMM takes longer for the movement to grow than other advertising mediums.

Difference #3 – The Messenger


social media marketingThis one should be obvious but it can be lost because of the ‘duh’ factor. In SMM, the ‘messenger’ often becomes your own customers. They become your brand champion; they spread the word on how great you are. In traditional media, spokespersons prevail. While both may ultimately be paid for their services, the latter has no vested interest outside of the contract while the former is placing their own reputation on the line in the name of your product, service or even brand.

How do you know which rules to follow when it comes to SMM? If you don’t have the expertise yourself, locate a qualified social media consultant that knows their stuff. Get some references and check their work. Companies only get one shot at setting their social media first impressions and it’s important that it’s done right the first time.

Mistake #4 – You under-fund your social media marketing campaign without adjusting expectations.

It takes money to make money, and while social media marketing may be a very economically efficient way of advertising, that doesn’t mean that it’s free. Even a minimal SMM campaign will require labor to setup, execute and tweak along the way. Under-funding your social media campaigns without adjusting your expectations can unfairly sink your perception of SMM and your ROI in a hurry.

How do you avoid the mistake of under-funding your SMM campaigns? Well, the obvious answer is to dedicate the appropriate amount of resources to the campaign. That can be tricky, though. How do you define ‘appropriate’, especially if it’s your first social media undertaking? Again, I recommend some due diligence research be done. What information can you find on the various types of campaigns and their associated costs? Another suggestion is to temper expectations – especially if you’re doing your own SMM. Start small, build on your successes and learn from your mistakes.

Mistake #5 – SMM on full-auto without a human element.

It’s possible to automate your social media marketing efforts, but fully automating your SMM and putting it on auto-pilot is a recipe for disaster. You may not have dedicated resources for overseeing your campaign every moment of every day but your SMM campaign should definitely have a human element. Make sure customers are being responded to directly and with a meaningful reply. It may not be possible to respond to every message, but make sure you respond to some or your customers will surely jump ship.

How do you avoid the pitfalls of social media automation? Again, the easy answer is to add a human element to your marketing efforts, but that may not always be practical. The most important part of the equation is to have some interaction. If you’re a larger organization, dedicate some amount of an employee’s (or consultant’s) time to actually interacting with your social media consumers. If you’re a smaller organization, the interaction may need to be handled by you, directly or by a consultant. A very popular trend (and one I think is very effective) is for companies to enlist Brand Ambassadors to help with part of the SMM labor.

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About the Author:

Daniel Ruyter is single dad, author, blogger, cupcake addict and tech nerd.  When he’s not swamped in some unruly SQL code in his day job, he consults for companies in Social Media, SEO and WordPress. You can find him over at Memoirs of a Single Dad and his tech blog at BloggableStuff.com.

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