I’ve heard many grumbles and complaints about how social media isn’t working as expected so I have assembled a list of the most common reasons you may not be getting the results you desire. Some minor changes to your strategy could make a big difference.
1. Lack of Focus – If you post everything from recipes and soccer practice reports to fuzzy kitty photos and your thoughts on the latest reality TV drama, your audience is probably confused and may not take you seriously. While it’s fine to go off topic occasionally, and doing so can actually show your human side and help you better connect with your audience, when you switch up your topics too often you can hurt your credibility and cause your audience to disengage.
2. Inconsistent Effort – Social media requires daily activity for best results. If you’re active for a few days, then disappear for a week, your audience can feel that you aren’t paying attention and lose interest.
3. Lack of Audience Engagement – It’s important to acknowledge the people who share your content, respond to comments, answer questions, and show that you are paying attention. It’s not all about you—it’s about them.
4. Insufficient Content – The more content you share, the more reasons you give your audience to engage with you. If you share one or two blog posts per week and not much else, you’re missing out on exposure. You don’t have to produce all of the content. Share articles, videos, and photos from related industry sources, your peers and clients. Just make sure your content is of interest to your target audience and that you share often (once daily on Facebook and LinkedIn, many times daily on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest). Sharing other people’s content also helps you build loyalty with the content creators.
5. Failure to Serve Your Audience – For most service-based businesses, authors, and consultants, the goal should be to serve as a resource for your audience. That means sharing useful content that makes them want to return for more. This is also an opportunity for you to step up and demonstrate your expertise. Give great advice, answer questions, share resources from outside sources, and SERVE your audience. Understand their goals, challenges, and interests and give them solutions. When you do this, they begin to pay attention, and the keep coming back for more.
6. Not Actively Building Your Following – One big mistake is to sit back and wait for followers to find you. You have got to be proactive. For Twitter and Google+, follow the people you want following you. That’s right, find your potential customers and follow or “circle” them. With any luck, they will return the favor and pay attention to what you’re offering. (Hint: They’re probably following your competitors so you can find them there!)
For Facebook, invest in Facebook ads for your pages. While you may grumble at the thought of spending money because you think all social media should be free, the reality is that ads are easy to set up and they do get results. For LinkedIn, ramp up your connections by exporting your contacts from Outlook or other mail program and import them to LinkedIn. Don’t worry, they won’t get spammed. You will still have control over who receives an invitation. Also join industry groups and send connection requests to fellow members.
Don’t forget to promote your social media links on prime real estate on your website like the header or sidebar. You can also add links to your email signature, mention “Find us on Facebook” in your advertising, and cross-promote links across all of your social media profiles.
7. Selling Too Much – Retailers and restaurants can get away with constant promotions and offers to their audiences, but the rest of us must be careful not to use social media like we’re standing with a megaphone next to a carnival booth. Stick to the 90/10 rule: 90% useful content, 10% sales.
8. Not Selling Enough – While you don’t want to annoy people with sales, you do need to ask people to take action. Never assume they know what you have to offer. Mention your products and services periodically. Announce when you have something new coming out or a special promotion. Let them know which services are your best-sellers and why. You can also post customer testimonials, awards won, media mentions, and find other passive ways to remind your audience what you do.
9. Forgetting About Website Traffic – Sharing tips and videos and photos are great, but don’t forget to share links back to your website. This is easy to do with each new blog post, but you can also do this when you feature products and services. Invite people to visit and watch your traffic grow!
10. Unrealistic Expectations – Social media isn’t a stand-alone solution to marketing—it’s one tactic in a multi-faceted marketing plan. It rarely leads to huge sales immediately, which can be a big disappointment to a lot of users.
Instead, consider the long-term value of social media. It’s a tool for building an audience. When you cultivate a community and earn their loyalty, they will pay attention when you have something new to offer. They will also stay with you for the long haul. Social media is also a place to capture attention of prospects, build a powerful reputation, drive traffic to your website, connect with potential alliance partners and media, and keep your existing and past customers engaged. If you do it well and your audience is growing, social media will affect your bottom line in ways that can’t always be measured.