How NOT to Use Social Media

Posted on October 25, 2012

How NOT to Use Social MediaSocial media has changed the way everyone, from individuals to businesses of all sizes, communicates. As a result of this trend, a number of “social media experts” have popped up over the years, promising to help companies’ marketing divisions keep up with the trend. Many times their promises are big and bold, yet their results fail to live up to expectations.

The fact of the matter is that more Twitter followers or a higher Klout score does not translate to increased website traffic, nor does it guarantee more qualified leads or increased sales. The underlying principles of marketing still apply, even if the technology used to do it is different, so it’s important to remember them when creating a social media strategy for your company. Below are 3 examples of what you should NOT do when trying to grow your business with social media:

1. Creating too many social network accounts
Many self-styled “social media experts” tell their clients that they should be on as many social media networks as possible, not just the “holy trinity” that is LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and according to Marketing Pilgrim, the average company has around 170 social network accounts.

There are two problems with this approach, with the first and most obvious problem being a management one. With 170 different accounts, who is going to manage all of them? Would you divide it up among your staff, or hire someone full-time to manage all of it? The second problem is one for your customers. How do they know which one of your accounts to interact and engage with?

By spreading your presence out across multiple social media sites you’re reducing risk and the overall impact, but also reducing your potential for returns as well. A better strategy would be to focus on the top performing networks, that is, networks where your presence is felt by customers and where you can actively engage with them. Of course, you’ll have to expand into other networks to acquire new customers, but this should be done slowly over a longer period of time, instead of all at once..

2. Relying on Others to Share for You
One of the best things about social media is the ability for people to share your posts with others, turning them into de-facto ambassadors of your content, causing your content to be exposed to new audiences, and helping turn casual visitors into fans.

The problem with this, though, is that it is essentially word-of-mouth advertising, and won’t turn those fans into customers, not right away. Big companies can leverage their brand recognition to make word-of-mouth advertising work for them, but smaller companies don’t have that advantage, and must resort to other means in order to significantly impact their bottom line.

The solution to this is to drive customers towards specific points of conversion, like a landing page. Start with one of your marketing channels, like a mailing list, or a social network, and funnel them towards a matching landing page that has the goal of converting them into customers with an offer that is meaningful to them. Each landing page should utilize an offer appropriate for the specific market segment that you’re targeting, and should make use of offers that trigger emotional responses in order to drive them to action.

3. Focusing On Ineffective Tactics
Contrary to popular belief, posting blog comments and short Twitter updates isn’t the most effective way to reach out to your customers, and the occasional half-hearted blog post isn’t going to do much to endear them to you. The ideal solution is to position yourself so that people will want to find and engage with you.

The best way to do this is to use social media to develop your business by forming partnerships with other entities and gain exposure to influential people and organizations. This is certainly more difficult for a smaller company, since they can’t wield brand recognition like bigger companies can, nor is there a predefined process that helps ensure success, but the potential for profit and growth is much greater and is more likely to help your business grow in more meaningful ways.