Lately we’ve been examining how a successful social media campaign can really benefit a business. And while some companies have been slow to understand just how powerful social media can be for improving sales, building a brand, and developing customer loyalty; many have come to recognize the tremendous benefits of social media marketing. As a result, many businesses are starting to throw more and more money at their social media efforts, leaving behind the days when the responsibility of social media accounts were just left to an intern. Unfortunately, however, without a smart strategy, most companies waste money on social media. To help your business avoid this squandering of resources, and use social media effectively, let’s explore some of the biggest mistakes
1. Buying fake followers
For many companies, social media is seen as a popularity contest: each racing to get more followers or ‘likes’ then the competition. This type of vain numbers game not fails to see the true purpose and potential of social media, but also frequently leads to unscrupulous and wasteful tactics such as buying fake followers.
Companies that hire a 3rd party that uses fake accounts to artificially boost their number of followers on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, risk a number of complications. By buying followers, you’re likely to have low engagement, potentially spam your genuine followers from the 3rd party, lose your integrity and reputation, and ultimately get caught and penalized by the social media company. You’re better off saving your money and focusing on building followers and engagement organically.
2. Hiring low end social media companies
In an effort to cut corners and save money, many organizations will hire fly-by-night low-end social media companies. Quite often, though, these companies guarantee “big numbers” and “instant results” with “unbelievable deals”, but end up falling far short, having spent buckets of money. These low-end companies rarely have the expertise, resources or patience to manage a successful social media campaign. In many cases they also employ shady practices, such as the aforementioned fake follower scheme. Do your homework and find a trustworthy social media company that fits your budget.
3. Spending money with no goals attached
As with most endeavors in life, if you don’t have a vision of where you want to go, you’re going to have a hard time getting anywhere. The same goes for companies that don’t develop a comprehensive social media strategy. Establishing clear goals for what you want your social media efforts to accomplish, such as raising awareness of your brand or increasing conversion rates, will help you focus your time and money. Monitoring your progress towards those goals using social media analytics is critical as well.
4. Running contests with big prizes and low entries
Since the stone age of marketing, people have been using contests to promote their business and products, and with good reason. That first caveman (or cavewoman) marketer likely recognized that contests are a fun, engaging way to spread the word about your brand quickly. However, if a company runs a contests with big, expensive prizes and very few people enter, they stand to lose much while gaining little, and this is especially true on social media. Spending your money wisely requires knowing the benefits and pitfalls of running a social media contest.
5. Hiring in-house social media people with no training
To avoid hiring new staff or utilizing a social media agency, many companies try to shove the work onto in-house employees who have no prior training. That in-house hire may be able to set up social media accounts, but when it comes to running a successful strategy they likely won’t know the first thing and end up costing the company tons of money. That money could be much more wisely spent on a social media agency that understands the complexities of researching, planning, deploying and managing social media both in the short term and the long term.
6. Putting lots of effort into social updates that have no community reach
Just like the mystery of the tree falling in the woods, if your social media lacks community reach, how are you to know if your updates are making an impact? If you’re spending loads of time and energy into constantly blasting your social media outlets, but haven’t taken the time to develop a good-sized, and most importantly, engaged audience, then your efforts are likely falling on deaf ears and wasting your money. Rather than blitzing your pages with excessive content, focus on building and engaging your community, and use your posts much more judiciously.
7. Creating social media ads that have poor performance
Many companies have been encouraged to create social media ads to boost their business and exposure, but often times the efforts (and dollars) are squandered due to low performance. Creating and launching a successful social media ad campaign requires careful planning, execution and analytics to monitor and increase their success.
8. Not tying social media into their SEO efforts
There are plenty of ways to help boost your SEO efforts through social media, and failing to make that connection can be a huge waste of resources. Optimizing social profiles, building links and reach, establishing new relationships and using social sharing buttons are just a few of the ways you can maximize your social media to help your SEO efforts.
9. Focusing on the wrong social media sites for their business
Often companies feel compelled to be on every social media platform out there, when in reality there may only be a few that are relevant and worthwhile for their business. As a result they end up spreading their resources thin, diluting their brand and message, and confusing followers. It’s important to research and learn about the major (and even some upcoming) social media venues to understand the audience of each and determine where you fit in and can flourish. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are generally safe bets, there are some businesses that might be very well served with Instagram, while others would be wasting their time and money.
10. Automating updates and duplicating across platforms
Managing social media accounts can be a time consuming process, so many companies are tempted to automate their updates to save time. Not only does this come across as disingenuous, lazy and spammy to your followers, but you’re also wasting money by not actively engaging with your audience. Often companies will also set up their social media accounts to automatically publish the same content across platforms. This, too, wastes money by being ineffective and squandering the nuances of what each platform can deliver. Take the extra time to craft quality, engaging posts, and you will be rewarded with a loyal and active audience.
What are some of the ways that you’ve seen companies squander money on social media? And what would you recommend they do instead?
“The Ten Benefits of Social Media Marketing” (Forbes)
“Build a Social Media Hiring Strategy” (Entrepreneur)
“The Inevitable Bite of Buying Followers and Likes” (Social Media Today)
“How to Determine Which Social Media Site is Right for Your Business” (HubSpot)