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Six Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media Marketing

Six Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media Marketing

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By: Sarah Cornelisse*

Marketing your business and products through social media can be powerful; social media allows you to connect with consumers where and when they want. And while social media is often touted as free, it is anything but. This article enlists errors that could prevent a good outcome with digital marketing efforts.

Success with social media marketing requires planning, effort, execution, and assessment, all of which demands that you invest your time, which is definitely worth something. Ensure that you get the most from your effort by avoiding these errors.

Lack of Value

Why should consumers follow your business on social media? Consumers are connected with family, friends, local organizations (such as their child’s school or their church), charitable organizations, and so forth. With the plethora of options that people have for pages to follow on social media; this is the question that you must answer through the content that you post and share.

If social media marketing is new for you, first take the time to develop a strategy for how you will implement these platforms. Penn State Extension offers “A Guide to Developing a Social Media Strategy for Ag Entrepreneurs” that you can use to guide you in this.

Six Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media Marketing

While you will have your goals and objectives for your social media marketing efforts, consumers have their own motivations for following a business. In addition to learning about new products and services, company news, and discounts, consumers are also looking to be entertained, inspired, and to connect with others with similar interests.

Figure out what your followers value and give it to them. For some, it could be videos demonstrating how to use a product while others may value a discussion on production or operating practices. Determining what your followers value will take time, but the return is incredibly valuable to you through increased customer loyalty and sales revenue.

Irregular Posting

Consistent posting is crucial to generating a following, providing opportunity for engagement, and providing the value that consumers desire. While the optimal frequency for posting varies across platforms and will also vary by individual business and industry type, aim to post once a day 3-5 days per week.

You can increase your posting frequency if you’re using Twitter or the stories feature on Facebook and Instagram.

“To assist with consistent posting, you can utilize scheduling tools. Facebook and Twitter both have post scheduling features. There are also third-party social media management tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, and MeetEdgar.”

One pitfall to scheduled posting is when a post’s tone doesn’t align with the current environment – picture such as a light-hearted post being shared shortly after a significant natural disaster has occurred. For this reason, even when scheduling posts, you should ensure that you have access to your profiles to prevent posts from being released in these types of situations.

Lack of Engagement

Social media is intended to promote connections and engagement. Many consumers place great value on the ability that social media affords to engage with businesses that they purchase from. Some actions you can take to initiate engagement include asking questions, launching polls, or inviting followers to share with you.

Initiating engagement is only half of the job, however. You must also be responsive when consumers initiate engagement with you. If you are direct marketing, responsiveness is crucial to the customer experience.

According to research, businesses that do not engage with their customers online are more likely to lose them to accessible online businesses. In addition, fairly quick responses are expected by consumers, with 80% expecting a response within 24 hours and 42% expecting a response within one hour.

Not Assessing Effectiveness

All of the major social media platforms offer some degree of analytic information for business profiles. Upon reaching a minimum threshold number of followers, you can get basic post engagement data (number of likes, shares, comments) and follower information (gender, age, location).

The focus of social media strategy success is initially often based upon this quantitative data. However, how valuable is having 5,000 followers if only a handful are engaging with you?

“Instead, you may find greater value through cultivating a smaller follower group that is highly engaged by providing feedback to posts or sharing your content with their networks.”

When assessing effectiveness, give more weight to qualitative aspects of engagement, such as comment context and sentiment. For example, are you posting content intended to be humorous, yet it’s eliciting negative reactions?

Or are you publishing content that resonates with your social community as shown through positive reactions and comments? Try to identify themes in the comments or replies and use this information to guide your future post activity.

Not Evolving

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any of the other social media platforms, they all evolve. The Facebook of today is not the Facebook of 2008, and as a result, how you use each platform must evolve as well. If you have a presence on Facebook, have you tried using Facebook Live?

Are you posting stories on Facebook and Instagram? Whatever social media platform(s) you use, it’s important to stay current on the available features offered and trends in how the platforms are being used.

Inappropriate Content and/or Vulgarity

Most consumers don’t expect to be on the receiving end of inappropriate content of vulgarity when interacting with businesses; even those who are comfortable with it in their personal lives. Simply put, don’t turn off consumers or business associated with colorful language or questionable content.

Bonus Mistake: Being Overly Political

During election years, when political discussions and news are at the forefront of daily lives, it’s key to remember that emotions can run high. When it comes to politics or public issues, assess and approach each situation with your eyes wide open and understand that speaking or not speaking out can come with consequences that you have to be willing
to accept.

“As an example, a farm initially avoided taking a public position regarding land development in their community since tensions between the two sides were high, but the farm ultimately decided to take the approach of explaining to their social media community how the development would impact their business.”

While not directly taking a position on the issue, sharing how the development would impact them allowed community members to factor this additional information into their personal decision-making process prior to the final decision being made.

Social media can be a key tool in your marketing toolbox when used to its full potential. Through planning and commitment, you can avoid these pitfalls while strengthening the ties with your social media community.

Sarah Cornelisse

*Sarah Cornelisse is a Senior Extension Associate of agricultural entrepreneurship and business management at Penn State University in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education.
Sarah has expertise in direct marketing, valueadded dairy entrepreneurship and marketing, the use of digital and social media for agricultural farm and food business marketing, and business and marketing planning and decision making.
Originally from New York State, she has a B.A in mathematics from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics and Animal Science, both from Penn State University.
Correspondence email: sar243@psu.edu

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