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Social media marketing / By Marthinus

If you’re feeling you’re wasting your time marketing your business on social media, you’re not alone. According to Manta.com, an online resource for small businesses, over 50% of small business owners feel their Facebook marketing efforts aren’t worthwhile. But are you really wasting your time, or are you doing something wrong?

Here are seven mistakes that might be standing between you and your goals.

1. No strategy or plan

Social media strategies are similar to flight plans. A plane is unlikely to safely reach its destination unless the pilot meticulously plans its flight path. Moreover, just like a bad flight plan might have dire consequences for the pilot and passengers, having no content strategy or plan is likely to reflect poorly on your business and its bottom line.

By taking the time to plan and question the intent behind the content you’re sharing, and setting up a schedule, you’re much more likely to run a well-oiled machine where you engage consistently with your target market.

In addition to planning, it’s essential to stay flexible and responsive – you wouldn’t want your message to drown in an unexpected social media storm just because you have to stick to your schedule.

2. No, or inaccurate targeting

It’s easy to add money to your social media strategy by boosting posts and paying for likes and follows. Also, while the likes and shares you’re getting might look impressive at first glance, you’re probably going to engage with the wrong audience if you’re not paying attention to the targeting features offered by social media platforms.

These features allow you to target your content and follower acquisition very precisely according to gender, age, income group, location and interests. You can also make some of these attributes non-negotiable, ensuring you reach the right eyeballs. In doing so, you’ll significantly improve your odds of generating meaningful interactions and conversions.

3. Bad content

You will leave the wrong lasting impression if your posts that are riddled with spelling and grammar errors. The same applies to the improper use of hashtags and tags, and blurry, grainy pictures taken with cellphone cameras. Not to mention posting links to curated content on other pages or websites without motivating to your audience why it’s relevant to your business and customers!

The first step towards a professionally crafted post is a content calendar where you can draft and check your copy well in advance. Secondly, it’s always wise to have your content checked by a second or third pair of eyes before clicking the “Post” button.

4. Giving credit where it’s due

Many businesses make the mistake of sourcing images and copy from other pages and websites without crediting their sources. It’s always a good idea to ask permission before using anyone else’s content – and if you don’t, the least you can do is crediting them for it.

The same applies to unsubstantiated statements – if you’re going to rely on statistics or “the latest research” to strengthen your case or sales pitch, it’s best to attribute it to a credible source.

5. Overdoing things

This sin has two sides to it – overposting, and overpromoting. When you’re overposting, you’re bombarding and alienating your audience to such an extent that they are likely to unfollow or mute you. It also tends to be repetitive. Automated social media gatekeepers like the Facebook algorithm will also pick this up, and minimise your reach. Always base your post frequency on the principle of “less is more”.

Overpromoting is another way of overdoing things. If your content only punts your products, services and special offers, you risk boring and alienating your audience. While there is room to promote your products or services, overdoing this will not add value to your business in the long run. Social media marketers tend to favour the 80:20 rule, where 80 per cent of the content is valuable and informative, and 20 per cent is promotional.

6. Bad reputation management

It’s all about manners. Not thanking a customer for a positive review is just plain bad manners. Also, no matter how unreasonable criticism or a bad review might seem, you can do your business serious harm by ignoring it or being overdefensive in your response.

Neutral, rational and polite acknowledgement and communication is key to a positive reputation management strategy. Keep tabs on your social media accounts and business listings – responsiveness will reflect well on your business.

7. Lack of performance measurement

In an ever-changing digital universe, analysing the performance of your social media efforts is vital to ensure you’re staying on track. It will also inform any necessary adjustments or changes in your strategy.

A social media strategy should never be a shot in the dark. You should know your objectives and be able to prove it’s delivering the goods. Start by finding answers to questions like:

  • How much traffic do your social media posts drive towards your website?
  • Around what time of the day – or night – is your online traffic at its highest?
  • How much time does your audience spend reading, watching or listening to your content?
  • Where did your new clients first hear about or take note of your business?
  • Is the cost per like, as indicated by your analytical tools, justifying the overall cost of a promoted post or follower-acquisition campaign?

In conclusion

A properly managed social media strategy has the potential to create brand awareness, build your reputation and drive sales for a positive ROI. But if you’re shooting from the hip with impulsive overpromotion and -sharing, or flying blind with no particular objective and not measuring your online performance, you might do your business more harm, than good.

It takes time, and commitment to follow a successful social media marketing strategy. Many businesses are doing this in-house, but if you’re running a small business with limited resources, it might be a good idea to outsource your social media- or community management. Doing things right will be worth every penny.

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