(from Forbes, August 20, 2012)
1. Lack of Clear Goals: If you’re sharing content on social media networks without a clearly defined end goal, then your efforts are likely being wasted. With social media—or any marketing that you do for your business—you need to choose an intended outcome. Do you want to increase website traffic? Encourage people to sign up for your mailing list? Get exposure for your book? Improve brand recognition? Your goals become the target that you aim for. Without a goal, you might as well shoot arrows up into the sky and hope they land somewhere near the target.
2. Unrealistic Expectations: While clearly defined goals are important, it’s equally as important to make sure that your expectations are realistic. Social media is not a magic wand. It’s unlikely to attract truckloads of customers immediately. It is, however, a long-term marketing strategy for building brand recognition, getting repeat exposure with clients, attracting leads, promoting events, and eventually generating sales. Incidentally, social media should not be your sole marketing strategy; it should work in concert with your other marketing tactics such as print advertising, PR, referrals, etc. Every business should always run multiple marketing campaigns concurrently.
3. Disconnected from Your Audience: Before you can begin to connect with people via social media, you have to first understand who those people are. You should know your audience intimately and understand who they are, what motivates them, what frustrates them, and what their needs are. These key elements will help you develop and share content that appeals to them.
4. Not Blogging Enough: At the heart of a solid social media marketing strategy is your blog. You need great content to share, and a reason to bring people back to your site to read more and engage with you. Ideally you should update your blog a minimum of two to three times per week, and then share each new post with your networks.
Also, your content should clearly convey what your brand is about and should appeal to the needs and interests of your target audience. If your content isn’t connecting with your audience, then reconsider your strategy. Perhaps your blog posts need more enticing titles or you need to write more prescriptive content to help your target audience deal with their pain points. Maybe your content is boring! Inject some personality into your efforts, write really great titles, and strive to deliver value.
5. Treat it as an Obligation: If social media is just another item you feel you have to do each day and you resent it, that’s going to come across with your audience. The people and companies that are doing well with social media are the ones who embrace it and enjoy it. Imagine if you treated your clients like they were simply an obligation—they would certainly notice. Find a way to see the value and the fun in social media and allow that to shine through.
6. Lack of Direction: Yes, strategy matters with social media and you have to find one that works for your business. Pay attention to what is working for you and what isn’t, and do more of what works! Or hire an expert to help you craft an effective plan.
7. Missing Cross-Promotion: Let your existing clients and website visitors know about your social media presence and invite them to participate. Feature links to your social media profiles from the header of your website and across all web pages. You can also promote your links in your email signature, print advertisements, electronic newsletter, and other marketing collateral. Most of the major blog platforms have plug-ins that can feature recent Twitter posts on your website sidebar or view your Facebook followers. And don’t forget to add social sharing buttons to your blog and make it easy for readers to share your content with their networks.
8. Not Engaged: If you aren’t responding to your audience, appreciating them, and responding to their questions, then they will go elsewhere. Also, it’s not just about broadcasting your message. You will see far more results when you like and share other people’s content, mention them in your posts, and even recommend their products and services. Imagine if everyone in social media sent a shout out to recommend just one small business each day!
9. Failure to Build Your Audience: With social media, you have to actively recruit followers and fans. For Twitter, I believe in following back the people who follow you. This is good social etiquette, while also letting your audience know that you’re paying attention to them too. For Facebook, you can invest in ads to help get more “Likes” on your page. For LinkedIn, import contacts from your database and proactively send connection requests to people you know. For Google+, add people to your circles. The point is that you need to be proactive in building your audience and not just sit back and wait for them to find you.
10. Partial Effort: One of the biggest complaints I hear about social media is that it takes too much time, which leaves a lot of people either ignoring it altogether or trying to work it into their schedules when convenient. But an inconsistent effort leads to inconsistent results. If you were to commit to engaging with your social media networks on a consistent basis, you could discover a tremendous return on your time investment, and you’d realize it should be a top priority.
Nothing you do in life will produce great results if you aren’t fully committed. And the truth is that social media can be managed for most small businesses in under an hour per day. If you set realistic goals, develop content that appeals to your target audience, and consistently engage with your networks, you will begin to understand the real value that social media can bring to your business.