Social media can be a wonderful and glorious thing for businesses of all sizes. In theory, it levels the playing field because everyone has access to theoretically the same audience; you just have to get their attention. Whether you’re a mom and pop shop on the corner or you’re a mega corporation, you still have to play by (mostly) the same rules.
And yes, that means “lowly” Internet entrepreneurs, professional bloggers and online startups can get in on this action too. However, you’ll find that far too many people go about social media marketing in entirely the wrong way. Here are five of the most common mistakes. Are you guilty of any of these?
1. Getting Caught Up on Followers
It’s true. Social media can very much be a numbers game. When you’re on Twitter with only a couple hundred followers, it’s hard to make any sort of real impact. It’s hard to generate any substantial sales. But that doesn’t mean you should don that black hat just to boost your numbers for the sole sake of boosting your numbers.
It can be very tempting to hop on a service like Fiverr and buy as many followers as you’d like. It’s tempting to participate in follow-for-follow schemes. While these can help for some extra visibility, they’re not going to help much in the long run. When almost all of your followers are fake accounts and bots, you’re not getting any real value out of Twitter anyway. You’re far better off with 1,000 real genuine followers than with 10,000 bots.
2. Not Engaging with Fans and Followers
Believe it or not, the people on the other side of that tweet or Facebook update are actually real human beings. And while you may certainly approach your social media marketing strategy from the perspective of a brand or a business, it doesn’t mean that you should treat those platforms as nothing more than soapboxes and billboards.
Engage with your audience. Reply to comments. Ask them questions. Get involved in the conversation. Start conversations with other profiles and accounts in your niche. It’s not about standing on some podium and screaming at the top of your lungs; it’s about getting in the trenches and shaking a few hands.
3. Spreading Yourself Too Thin
I’ve written before about why you shouldn’t build your business on rented land. That’s still true, but you can still leverage social media platforms to your advantage. Just don’t go throwing all your efforts into every new channel that pops up.
Remember Ello? Most people don’t. It was a flash in the pan and it was ultimately inconsequential. If you were to divert too much of your time and resources away from established platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to grow your Ello following, you would have wasted it all. Sure, set up the account and claim your name, but don’t stretch yourself further than you need to.
4. Overdoing the Automation
One of the most common mistakes that I see particularly among solopreneurs and small business owners with humble budgets is that they want to do everything manually. When they tweet or post a Facebook update, they’re doing it in real time. That’s just not practical.
On the other end of the spectrum, you find many of these same people going way too far with the automation. Everything is scheduled out days or weeks in advance. They have a “set it and forget it” mentality with social media, which just doesn’t work either.
This becomes especially problematic when you use software that will automatically share links that match a certain keyword search. It’s annoying when you see a Twitter feed filled with “So-and-so liked a YouTube video [link]” updates. Automation can be good. Automation can be useful. Just make sure it’s still genuine and authentic.
5. Focusing Only on Yourself
I don’t blame you. It makes a whole lot of sense that you’re really only interested in this social media platform or that one because you want to get your name out there and generate some business. You’re in it for the money. You’re looking out for the bottom line.
This relates back to the second point above, though. If you only use these social media platforms to blast out your marketing messages, if you only talk about yourself, your followers are going to lose interest. They want to connect with you. They want to engage. They want a real conversation.
Particularly in realms like Internet marketing, you can’t really look at other people in your industry as competition. You’re colleagues, in many ways, and it’s worth connecting with them to share strategies, tips and insights. Share links that your followers will find interesting, useful or entertaining. Just like on your blog, the goal is to provide value. The money can follow.
Do you see any particularly bad social media practices out there? Share them in the comment section below!