7 Deadly Mistakes new Social Media Marketers make and how to Avoid them

Social media has become a compelling influence on customer purchase decisions and can also serve as a direct sales tool.

However, getting started with social media marketing can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of 7 basic mistakes made by most Social Media newbies and how you can avoid them.

1. Spreading Yourself too Thin

A common mistake is trying to cover all the popular social media networks at once.

Each social network is different and needs its own strategy to succeed. This is a slow and time-consuming process but doing it correctly will yield tremendous long term benefits.

My suggestion is to choose 1 or 2 social channels to begin with and focus on these. Once you have developed an effective strategy for these channels, you can consider adding a new channel.

Your choice of social network should be based on: (a) your target audience & (b) your personal preferences.

a. Your target audience:

Each social network has a different audience. See which network is the most popular with your target market and start there.

The more clearly you can define your target profile, the easier it will be for you to market to them – not just in your choice of social channel, but also in deciding the content that you will share, the tone of your posts, the style of your visual content etc.

Some of the factors you can consider when defining your target profile:

  • Who are they? Age, gender, average income, geography etc.
  • What do they enjoy? Hobbies, where they shop, which websites / social channels they frequent. This will help you figure out where to market to your target audience .
  • What do they want from you? Exactly why they are buying your product. This will help you create the right kind of content for them.

Example: Target audience for a brand selling mineral make-up.

  • Who are they: Females between the ages of 25 and 55 with a high household income.
  • Where to find them: Probably shop at Wholefoods, enjoy yoga, and are more active on Pinterest and Instagram. Unlikely to be on Tumblr.
  • What to show them: Interested in organic foods, health and fitness, detox cleanses. Consider articles and tips related to these topics.

Here’s a basic cheat sheet for you:

Target audience on social media

NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you have built a large following of teenaged girls on Twitter, go ahead and sell fashion jewelry there.

b. Your personal preference:

Social media requires time and effort. You are more likely to succeed if you choose a channel that interests you. For instance, if you hate photography then Instagram is probably not the channel for you. Whereas a pithy sense of humor would be great for Twitter.

Here’s a quick guide to the sort of content you could generate for different social channels. See what excites you.

Content for social channels

Stay tuned for our follow-up blog posts with best strategies for individual channels.

2. Not Claiming your Name

Though I recommend starting off marketing on just 1 or 2 social channels, do create your account on all social networks. This will enable you to get the same username across all networks.

One mistake we made with OrangeTwig was not checking for our username on other channels when we started our Facebook account.

By the time we moved on to Twitter and realized that the username ‘OrangeTwig’ was not available there, we had already built a substantial fan following on Facebook and could not change our username there (Facebook does not allow a business page to change its username if the page has over 200 fans).

As a result, we now have the username ‘OrangeTwig’ on Facebook and Tumblr, but ‘OTstores’ on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

If we had checked the availability of usernames on social networks before we started marketing, we could have had a more consistent social media presence.

3. Not Defining Goals

Why do you want your brand to be on social media? The first thing that probably pops into your mind is – to increase sales.

Yes, that is the eventual goal of any business. But do remember that social media is best used to build relationships and awareness. This then (hopefully) leads to an increase in sales.

If you go in with the assumption that you will start posting your products on social media and will suddenly see a plethora of sales, then you’re in for a disappointment.

Realistic goals to have when starting your social media strategy include:

  • Increased following: Make sure you target the right audience or this can actually hurt your page.
  • Customer engagement: Post content that encourages likes, shares, retweets, comments etc.
  • Brand building & awareness: Increase your brand recognition and influence by becoming a thought leader.
  • Visitor loyalty: The longer a visitor spends on your social media page, the more likely she is to buy from you.
  • Increased website traffic: Add links to your website where relevant, to encourage site visits.

A well defined goal should ideally be specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound e.g. I want to increase website click-throughs by 20% by March 31st.

4. Not Being Visual

No matter which social network you choose, you need visual content to grab user attention.

Your business needs visual content

In the past few months, almost every popular social channel has given more prominence to its visual media display. Facebook recently included photo carousels which allow brands to display multiple products or multiple images of the same product. Twitter now shares the full photo rather than a cropped preview. Each network is also emphasizing video content.

Takeaway: Wherever possible, add visuals like photos, videos, gifs, info-graphics, quote cards etc to your posts. 

Tips for generating visual content:

a. Crowdsource:

Ask your users to upload their photos using your products. Don’t forget to ask them to add a hashtag. Example: Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest which asked users to decorate a Starbucks coffee cup and upload the image to social media, generated thousands of user images.

Crowdsourcing example -Starbucks

b. Creative process / shop photos:

If you have a physical outlet, consider sharing photos of your employees, shop or any stalls that you may have set up in fairs etc. If you create your own products, post photos of your studio and the creative process that you follow. This helps build authenticity for your brand. Example: Kay Avery from St. Leonards Online offers workshops on hand creating leather accessories. She posts photos of her students on her Instagram account.

Shop example - stleonardsonline

c. Use your smartphone:

Take photos that you think will interest your audience and jazz them up using photo apps like Instagram, Overgram or Phonto. The OrangeTwig photo editor (currently only desktop) also allows you to upload your own pics and offers filters and other editing options.

Example: Marina, owner of vintage Etsy shop Valley Stream Atelier posts photos of everyday fashion on her Instagram account.

Smartphone - Marina

d. Share / repin / retweet etc:

When you can’t create new content, share content from other sources that you think your audience will find interesting. Example: Knittin’ Ninja shared Knit and Crochet now’s ecard:

Share example - Nittin Ninja

e. Quotes:

An inspirational, motivational or product-related quote is a good option. Example: Ugmonk, a clothing brand, tweeted an image with an inspirational quote from Steve Jobs with their product.

Quote example - ugmonk

f. Product pics:

Share your product photos with a link to the product page on your website. OrangeTwig can help automate this process for you. Example: Baby goods store Wings-N-Things uses the OrangeTwig app to auto-promote their products on social media.

Product share example -Wings n things

BONUS TIP:

Combine words & images:

An image with text on it works better than just an image.

e.g. A product photo with the product description or sale details as part of the image is more likely to get clicks than a simple product image.

Effective visuals for social media

(Images auto-created via OrangeTwig)

5. Not mixing up your Content

A common mistake many new social media brands make is only posting product images.

Think about which brands you follow on social media. Why do you follow them?

Chances are that these brands generate content that is interesting for you – tips, articles, humorous images etc. Interspersed amongst these may be some product images or details of a promotion that the brand is running.

In addition to the visual content mentioned in point 4 above, here are some examples of engaging content that you could consider:

a. Questions:

Everyone has an opinion. Increase engagement by asking your fans a question. Example: Marvel Comics asked Twitter followers to choose between teams to promote the release of Captain America: Civil War.

Questions - Marvel comics

b. Fill in the blanks:

Who doesn’t love MadLibs?

Example: Chili’s Grill & Bar asked users to share their favorite side order.

Fill in the blanks - Chilis

c. Caption this:

Take an interesting photo with your smartphone or ask your followers to name your latest product.

Example: Guided tour and cruise company Tuack combined ‘Caption this’ & a giveaway for this funny photo.

Caption this - Tuack

d. Deals & promotions:

Daily Deals, Flash Sales, Shop Promotions – these are all good options to share on social media.

Example: Etsy shop Fade Grafix used the OrangeTwig app to create and auto-promote their Daily Deal on original and vintage prints.

Deals & promotions - Fade grafix

e. Giveaways:

A freebie? Where can I sign up for it? Ask fans to comment on or share a post to enter a giveaway. Example: Zappos encouraged fan engagement on their Facebook page by offering a $250 giveaway.

Giveaway - Zappos

f. Current events:

Use trending hashtags like #superbowl or #Oscars to maximum visibility. Example: Old Navy used the Oscars to showcase their new shoes and accessories.

Current events - Old Navy

g. Tips & tricks:

Easy hacks are always popular and help establish you as an authority in your field. Example: Whole Foods regularly posts tips that are likely to interest their target audience.

Tips & tricks - Wholefoods

h. Blog posts:

If you haven’t written anything recently, consider recycling an old post that may still be of interest to your audience.

Example: OrangeTwig shared a blog post with an engaging image on its Facebook page.

Blog post - OrangeTwig

Note: Though many of the above types of content could have been posted without images, most brands do try to add images wherever possible to maximize reach and engagement.

TIP: Try the 80:20 rule: for every 2 promotional post that you share (e.g. product photos, sale details), try to share 8 pieces of non-product related content (e.g. blog posts, questions, tips, fill in the blanks). Finding content can be time consuming. But our upcoming feature, Q-rator can save you hours of work. With Q-rator, you’ll be able to find, schedule and post content from around the web in just few clicks. Learn more about Q-rator here and sign up to get Bonus Offers and Free Posts.

6. Not Being Consistent

I often see brands who started out well enough on social media, but then fizzled out. That’s because social media is hard – it takes time, energy and persistence to succeed.

Common mistakes include not posting on a regular schedule, not posting when your target audience is online and not being consistent with content and tone.

i. Frequency:

Decide on a posting schedule for your social channels and stick to this. The ideal number of posts will vary depending on the channel you choose.

For example, posts on Twitter have a short lifespan, so it’s okay to tweet more often without spamming your audience. Facebook, on the other hand, continues to show posts for a few hours, so post less frequently here.

Here’s a chart of suggested number of posts per channel, per day:

Suggested number of posts per social channel

As a small business owner, you probably have limited time so make a realistic schedule and try to stick to it. However, do make sure that you post at least once per day per channel.

TIP: Choose one day a week and schedule all your posts for the following week. Some channels like Facebook allow you to schedule posts in advance, or you could try a scheduling service like Buffer. The OrangeTwig app can help you to auto-create & schedule product promotions for up to 1 month.

ii. Timings:

Choosing when to post is an important part of your social media strategy.

Unfortunately, there is no universal ‘best time’ to post across networks, time zones and audiences. You will need to figure our your brand’s ideal posting time based on:

a) Analytics: Check the analytics of each of your social media channels to see when your followers are online. Here’s a guide on how to do this for Facebook. We will shortly be publishing similar guides for other social channels.

b) Your target audience: Think about your target profile’s day. If you are targeting working professionals, early mornings (before work), noon (lunch break) or late evenings (after family time) may be good times to post. To target moms, you may want to post when the kids are in school.

To start you off, I am including a general table on good times to post based on when the maximum number of users are online for different channels. However, this is no substitute for creating an individualized strategy for your brand based on your channel analytics.

Suggested timings for posting on social media

iii. Tone & Voice:

The brands that shine on social media are the ones who have built a strong, consistent voice. This could be professional and educational or it could be whacky and irreverent. It really doesn’t matter as long as it is engaging and reflects your brand personality.

Building a strong brand personality on social media helps:

  • Humanize your brand: everyone likes to interact with a personality, not a nameless, faceless entity.
  • Set your brand apart: helps with brand recall & association.
  • Create an emotional bond with your customer: leads to better word-of-mouth, engagement & sharing of content.

Bottlekeeper does a great job of building its brand personality on social media with its humorous, alcohol-related posts.

Voice of posts - bottlekeeper

7. Ignoring the numbers

Intuition, gut feelings, instinct, clairvoyance – none of these are good ways to go about your social media strategy.

To succeed with any marketing efforts, you need to measure your Return on Investment (ROI).

With paid marketing like advertising, your investment is money. With social media marketing, your investment is time.

Are the returns that your social media efforts generate worth the time that you are investing? To determine this, you need to study your channel analytics.

Start by measuring the following metrics:

i. Audience growth rate:

Is the number of your followers increasing? Some ways to spread the word include:

  • Adding your social media links to your offline promotional material, your online signatures, your store and other website like your blog.
  • Paid Advertising. If you do decide to advertise, make sure you choose a highly targeted audience for your ads. While this may be more expensive in the short term, it is far more likely to give you higher quality leads for your store.

ii. Engagement rate:

Are you getting a reasonable number of clicks, shares, comments, likes, retweets etc? If not, you have one of two problems:

  • Wrong audience: Your social followers are not interested in your brand. This often happens if you have bought likes/fans, participated in like-for-like or follow-for-follow chains, bought non-targeted ads or attracted fans through non-targeted promotions or giveaways (e.g. If you sell cosmetics but had a giveaway for an iPad, you may have attracted the wrong audience).
  • Poor content: This is an easier problem to solve as you can tweak the content that you are posting till you find that it is of interest to your followers. Whenever you make a change to your content strategy, make sure you give it a fair a chance before changing your strategy again. Sometimes it take a few days for results to show.

iii. Traffic driven to your site:

What percentage of your fans click through to your store? (The average click-through rates for brands is 1-2%).

  • Don’t forget to include a link back to your store when you post a product or deal on your social channels.

As you get more comfortable tracking metrics, you can move onto more sophisticated metrics like the quality of traffic you are generating. i.e. the conversion rate of your social media leads.

NOTE: It’s important to remember that social media may be leading to more sales than you are able to measure. 80% of purchase decisions are guided by word-of-mouth and over 70% of customers say they are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals. In many such cases, social media does not get the credit for driving sales.

Example: If I see a recommendation for a brand on my friend’s page, but then go to Google and search for the brand, any resulting purchase will not be attributed to social media since it is not the final link in the chain.

Conclusion

Starting with social media can be intimidating and overwhelming. The best advice I can offer – take it one step at a time:

  1. Start by making a plan and follow this plan for a few weeks.
  2. Check your analytics to see if your strategy is working for you.
  3. Based on analytics, change one aspect of the weakest performing area in your posts. Wait for a few days and see if your analytics have improved. Repeat.

Good luck! I hope you found this article helpful. We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, please spread the word by sharing it on forums and on social media.

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