October 6, 2014

11 Social Media Mistakes: Are You Avoiding Them All?

Today's guest blogger is Chad Davis, Senior Director of Digital Media at the National Association of Home Builders, and, all told, Chad has developed and deployed a variety content and digital strategies for traditional broadcast media, the cause-oriented social network Planet Forward, the independent film Red Clay, the technology forecasting website TechCast Global and NAHB. The through-lines in Chad’s 20-year career are 'content' and 'technology.' After spending 15 years working his way up through various content positions at public media companies across the United States, he left his role as Director of Content at New Mexico PBS (KNME) in 2009 to explore the burgeoning field online social networking. With that as a new foundation he has lately been broadening his focus more generally to digital media strategy, communication and technology. He is particularly interested in the rising popularity of visual communication (especially among the Millennial generation) and the rising (though at this stage over-hyped) trend toward the Internet of Things.
When he’s not scanning, blogging or posting to social media, he enjoys reading about history, psychology, economics, foreign policy, and (especially) technology. And thinking about how these all intersect in the future is what excites him the most about this field.
 11 Social Media Mistakes: Are You Avoiding Them All? 
by Chad Davis
Chad Davis
 In the early days of social media, brands explored the bounds of what consumers would tolerate in interacting with a company online. What emerged was a set of best practices grounded in user engagement. Although social media platforms are constantly evolving, we can now see that there are some fundamental guidelines that brands should adhere to when adding social media to their marketing mix. Below are 11 of the most common mistakes that companies involved with social media make. Any one of them may not be a fatal flaw, but in combination they begin to magnify each other.
Avoiding Social Media Because It’s Too Hard Humans are social creatures, so the best rule of thumb for launching your company into social media is to be human. Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from exploring these opportunities. If you are judicious and deliberate in your approach, it needn’t be harder than any other marketing challenge. That’s not to say that it doesn’t require work and that there aren’t some key concepts to master, but social media isn’t calculus or microeconomics.
Not Knowing Where You Brand is Online
Most people assume that if they have not started any social media accounts for their brand, that none exist. But LinkedIn and Yelp are two examples of platforms that may have your business listed – even if you never listed it yourself. Does your company have a Wikipedia entry? Did LinkedIn create a page for your company? Have people pinned anything from your website? When kicking off your social media strategy (and periodically thereafter) scan and see where your brand lives online.
(Pro Tip: type http://pinterest.com/source/[your website’s URL] into your browser’s address bar to discover images from your website on Pinterest.)
Thinking Social Media Can Replace Your Website or Blog
Social media platforms can change the rules of their game at any time. What works for you today may not work for you tomorrow, and when you put all of your marketing focus on a platform you don’t ultimately control, bad things can happen. Instead, opt for a hub and spoke model. That hub should be a platform over which you have almost total control (i.e., your website or blog), and your social media channels should be the tools to drive traffic (and hopefully customers) to your site.
Not Having Goals for Your Social Media
While the measure for success for social media may be different than for other marketing strategies, you should still have SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals for your social media. These goals should be an extension of your overarching marketing plan, your company’s strategic plan, or, at the very least, an extension of your business goals.
Not Measuring Your Progress 
Once you have those goals, it’s crucial that you measure your progress toward them. Most social media platforms have some form of analytics and you should take advantage of those to determine if your posts are helping you meet your goals. Also, Google Analytics recently expanded its social media tracking capabilities. Make sure to take full advantage of all this service offers.
Giving Up Too Soon
As anyone who has ever moved knows, establishing yourself in a new community takes time. And what takes the most time is building trust. The same is true online. The rule of thumb is that it takes at least 18 months for a social media strategy to deliver consistent results. In part, this is because social media is a numbers game and it takes time to build up a rich network of followers on any platform.
Spreading Yourself Too Thin
Newsflash: unless you’re doing this full time, you can’t do it all and do it well. On top of maintaining a website or blog, there are at least five key social media platforms in which you can engage right now. When starting out, it is easy to get excited and open up accounts across multiple platforms. However what works best for each platform varies. If you want to do social media right, start slowly. Pick one platform, and when you feel like you have it under control, pick another. The time between those two could be a week or a year. Also, resist the urge to link up accounts. Posting once across all platforms should be done sparingly, because social media users view it like cutting a corner.
Not Having a Content Strategy
One way to help stay the course with social media and not overextend yourself is to implement a content strategy. Like your social media strategy, your content strategy should stem directly from your business goals or strategic plan and should extend to your website, blog and offline marketing initiatives. Start by outlining your goals and figuring out which content works best each platform. From there, determine where you will source your content from, and decide how much of that content will be created by you versus curated from others in your industry or community. Most importantly, set up a content calendar that allows to you plan your posts over time.
Making it All About You
No one likes to be in a room with someone who only talks about themselves. The same is true in social media. The general guideline in social media is to follow an 80/20 rule. Only talk about yourself 20% of the time and spend the remaining 80% talking about your industry, your community and the great people or companies with whom you have the good fortune to work.
Not Understanding Your Platform of Choice
As social media platforms face increasing pressure to make a profit, they are evolving in ways that impact your ability to reach your followers. The mathematical soul of any social media platform is its algorithm for surfacing content to its users. You have to understand how these platforms choose to show your content to truly understand which platform is best for you. For example, Facebook publicly states that the average post only reaches about 10% of a page’s total followers. Understanding the nuances of each platform will help you set realistic goals and get the maximum value out of the time spent marketing via that platform.
Not Having a Social Media Policy
For both large and small companies, establishing rules for how your brand will be represented and interact with others online is extremely important. Like any written policy, it protects your brand and your employees. Even if you are an army of one, having a social media policy helps you determine how you will handle negative situations before they arise, and defend your response by showing forethought and not a reaction in the heat of the moment.
(This article was originally published in the July/August issue of NAHB's Sales+Marketing Ideas magazine. For others' thoughts on common social media mistakes, check out the links on this NAHB.org page.)

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA CGP 

No comments: