People ask us all the time how to improve their social media presence, but a lot of times we find that brands aren’t really sure what they’re doing with social networks or why. They treat it like traditional marketing. Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. are tools you can use to connect with your customers, tap into new audiences, drive traffic, generate word of mouth and raise brand awareness – but you have to know what you’re doing.
The Internet and mass usage of social media have completely changed the game for marketers. Anyone can interact directly with your brand and marketers need to know what works and importantly, what doesn’t in this new environment. I think the confusion lies, or the challenges brands face, is that they apply other marketing practices in these networks and they don’t work.
I sat down with Marley Lynch, social media manager at Sugarfly, and we put together this list of the keys to success in social media, and also some of the mistakes we’ve seen brands make. Let us know what you think by posting your comments and questions below.
Sugarfly’s social media tips & tricks for survival and top 10 mistakes brands make
Mistake # 1: There does not seem to be a plan. Tweets are random do not support brand messaging
Solution: Create a conversational calendar
Before you even get started map out a long-range conversational calendar that supports your brand messaging. You want to plan ahead for some innovative themes or “big wins”. Most of your plan should be ways you can get others to tell a story that will support what your brand stands for. People get tired of hearing from brands in their feeds if they have nothing interesting to say. Great social campaigns don’t generally happen by accident. They require a clear strategy and planning ahead.
Mistake # 2: Lack of goals and direction
Solution: Define clear and realistic goals
The next thing you want to do is define your goals or key performance indicators. That could be how many more followers you are trying to get. It could be level of activity. It could be number of likes on Facebook. A KPI can be quantitative or qualitative. Be careful there though, it is no good having masses of followers if they are not actively engaging with you. You need to account for measuring the quality of followers through engagement.
Mistake # 3: No personality or the language does not reflect the brand personality
Solution: Create a voice and language that reflects the brand personality
Brands often forget to think about who or what is the voice of the brand. How you tweet or post updates has to be in the voice of the brand. If you don’t have this already then you probably need to go back to your the brand strategy and address this. Brand personality must come through everything you do.
There are so many great examples of brands doing it well. Hipmunk is a great example of this at the moment:
Mistake #4: Unsure of what the function or model is
Solution: Be clear about what the purpose of your feed is
The next thing you want to do is define your social media model. For example, an airline or cell phone company that is dealing with customer complaints would be a customer service model. A publisher model for a feed is trying to leverage Twitter to get more page views on the main site. Are you simply trying to build brand recognition or celebrity recognition? What is the purpose and tone of the Twitter feed?
@JetBlue is an example of a customer service model:
Mistake #5: One way conversations and bad tweets
Solution: Don’t be a salesperson! @ Replies should be at least 60% of your tweets
Let’s talk about @ replies – pushing information out doesn’t work. It has to be a two way conversation. At least 60% of your tweets should include @ replies. Do not try to sell or push out marketing messages. Make sure you have a dialogue, ask questions and tweet directly to people in your community. This can include thanking them for the retweet and following you.
@PiersMorgan is an example of how to keep up the momentum with @replies
Mistake #6: “Collecting” followers and not checking feeds/not responding to tweets/posts
Solution: You must check constantly. Social media feeds are like owning a puppy.
The “If we build it, they will come” mentality does not apply to social media. This is an investment in your business and your brand. You have to check regularly, tweet and reply to followers within a timely manner. Like owning a puppy, it may sound fun at first, but it is a time investment you have to make if you want to succeed. You have to show interest in your followers. This is your fanbase so you must talk to them. Once people follow you, tweet about what they have blogged or posted about. Tweet back to them using their Twitter handle and make a comment to your followers about their post.
Mistake #7: No clear value proposition. Setting and forgetting your bio
Solution: Make it worth the follow and tell them why they should
Make sure you stay on purpose. You need to ask yourself, what is the purpose of this account, and what do I have to offer to my followers? Be clear with what you’re offering. Are you offering information? Guidance? Comedy? Deals? This should be stated right in your Twitter bio.
Mistake #8: Not being human enough. Being a “closed brand”
Solution: Do not be afraid to let people see the real you, they will love you for it.
Authenticity is key in social media. Successful companies will give communities a look inside their walls and show they are real too. Do not shy away from this. Giving your community a real inside look into your company is not easy for many brands to do but if you can it will help strengthen the connection your audience has with you. They will love you for it. Do not overly produce this. It needs to be as real and natural as possible. Take a look at Zappos Insider on YouTube:
Mistake #9: Don’t overdo it with Trending Topics
Solution: Use Hashtags and Trending Topics only when appropriate for your brand
Pay attention to trending topics and popular hashtags, but only use them if they apply to your tweet. Use hashtags for important search terms, or words your audience might be looking for. It can hurt your brand if you use them to get followers and they don’t apply to your brand or your message, and even if you get followers from it, they probably won’t be the right ones.
Mistake #10: Using each social media platform in isolation
Solution: Leverage and integrate your communities
Make sure you have an overall plan for social media or a social strategy. Companies that have different people on Twitter vs Facebook can run into this problem. You need to make sure everything is integrated. You also should leverage your followers to become fans on Facebook or friends on Foursquare. Twitter is a great place to tap into communities and influencers to start with. It allows you to break the ice!