No matter if you have been managing social media accounts for brands for years, or just getting started, sometimes marketers just want quick tips on how to promote their business via social media.
A bit ago I shared an Instagram Reel talking about some social media mistakes I have seen North Bay businesses — and myself — make with content creation, sharing it online, and engaging with their communities. And it received a lot of traction from marketing friends saying they need to work on one or more of these “mistakes.”
Here are seven common mistakes that every marketer should avoid if they want their social media marketing efforts to achieve their goals:
1. Never engaging!
I’ll say it again: social media is not a billboard. The platforms are meant to cultivate a social interaction between people, and this is no different for brands. Connections are the key to long-term relationships and sales. The best part is that the majority of community building is 100% free. You don’t need a huge marketing budget; you don’t need to buy followers. But it does take time. If you set aside dedicated time to serve and foster your community online, you will see growth.
Spend 10 minutes a day engaging with people who leave questions or comments. Check your location tags and thank customers for sharing pictures from your place of business. Look through local hashtags like #SonomaWine or #SonomaEats and leave well-meaning comments on Twitter or Instagram. (This doesn’t work on Facebook, unless you are doing it from your personal page, not your brand page.) Comment on Instagram stories from people you follow.
2. Not planning ahead
If you’re just sporadically posting for the sake of posting because that’s what you think you need to do, you’re never going to see results. This will quickly become a cycle that leaves marketers feeling like social media doesn’t work.
It does work. You just need to plan your content ahead of time so you can provide value to your audience. Then follow it up with a call to action to actually sell your product or service.
Bounce point: By planning content ahead of time and scheduling your images and videos, you are left with much more time in your day to complete everything else that is a part of your daily job.
By batching your photography and content writing on different days of the month, marketers can have content for an entire month and not have to stress about what to post in the moment.
That often just ends up not providing any value to their target audiences. Planning ahead means marketers are more intentional with what they share, which leads to a more engaged community, and also more sales.
3. Not editing photos
I do still think that relationships are more important than a pretty picture. But let’s be honest: There are a lot of bad images out there. If you are creating content for social media, learn the basics of photography, even with your phone. Don’t shoot in 100% sunlight, be aware of your angles, and utilize the editing tools on your phone to enhance your pictures.
Just a few small tweaks can make an image or video look better. If you are the one managing social media for your brand and you still aren’t enjoying the photos you take, then turn to outsourcing. Have a photographer/videographer come in once a quarter to take pictures that you can use over and over again, or find someone else at your business who takes good photos, and have them do batched photo shoots. Then add all of the photos to a cloud storage service like Dropbox so everyone at your company can use them.
4. Ignoring DMs
Ignoring direct messages or comments from your customers is basically telling them that you don’t care what they have to say.
Each day you work on social media marketing, make sure to spend a little bit of time engaging with your audience, answering questions, and checking your direct messages. Sometimes there are great questions hiding out in the Instagram direct message area that you might never see if you don’t search for it.
It’s especially important as businesses open back up because hours look different and customers may be confused about what time a retail business is open. A wine customer via my Instagram page said “I don’t know how many times I DM’ed a business about reservations (because it wasn’t obvious on their website) and they never got back to me. Two wineries lost my business for not responding over the course of a week.”
5. Posting randomly
This one goes along with number two, but even if you’re planning ahead, you want to stay consistent with the amount you’re posting. Social media algorithms favor consistency regarding both the number of posts you share per week and the type of content you share.
Mix it up, but make sure you’re sticking within four to six brand passions or content pillars so your audience knows what to expect from your business. This is a great way to connect with like-minded customers.
6. No CTAs!
While social media marketing shouldn’t be overly salesy like a used car dealership, you still should use calls to action (CTAs) within every post you share online. At the beginning or end of the post, tell your audience what you want them to do after reading your post. Keep it short and to the point.
For example, this can mean asking them to answer a question in the comments, click the link, enter the giveaway, make a reservation, or provide feedback. Ask your community if they would rather have a glass of red or white wine, or better yet – ask their opinion of cilantro. People either love or hate the herb. If you are telling your customers to go to your website either say click the link (on Instagram), or actually include the link to the part of your website you want people to go to. Not just the homepage. Make it easy for customers to purchase from you.
7. Overthinking content
This may be the mistake I see most people making when it comes to social media marketing. For a lot of small businesses, the person sharing content to social media isn’t necessarily doing it full-time — and now with the pandemic, virtual experiences are even more important, meaning that people are using video more than ever before.
That’s overwhelming in itself, and while looking at yourself in the camera, it’s easy to start overthinking everything—from how you look like to what your voice sounds like.
A way to combat overthinking is to plan ahead and keep practicing. Confidence is not natural to some of us, but clarity comes with action. The more you do something, the easier it gets, and the less you have to overthink every little detail. Brainstorming content ideas with your team can also help.
A quick tip is to focus on subjects about which you’re knowledgeable so at least you know the content is good. One way your team can tackle this is by writing out the FAQs you receive and creating content that answers these questions. They are frequently asked for a reason, and creating content that your customers want to know more about is a great way to provide definite value.
Not all mistakes are bad, because often you can learn from past mishaps. So pay attention to your digital insights and see what is working for you. By avoiding these seven common social media marketing mistakes, you can help your business to flourish in this increasingly digital world.