Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working – 7 Sins of Omission

The most common social media sin of commission is too much self-promotion. The deadliest sins, though, are omissions – the things we leave out of our social media strategy. Worse yet, if we offloaded or outsourced the whole thing, we may not even know what our digital strategy is, which means – dollars to donuts – we either don’t have one or our disengagement is ensuring that it’s not optimal.

You Don’t Favorite, Follow, List, Reply, Comment, and Re-Share.

You’re selfish. It’s OK, we’re busy people with a focus on our own business, but it can mean we forget to give in order to get. When the conversation is all monologue it makes it challenging for a social audience to take us seriously. It’s not enough to be listening and reflect that in our content; we need to show that in our social activity as well. Why should anyone engage our content, take an action to promote or amplify it in the social sphere, if we’re showing no pattern of doing the same? Getting great content recognized isn’t just creating good content, it’s showing we know what great content is. That’s a give to get thing. For instance, when you follow savvy thought leaders and evangelists in their own fields, they didn’t get to be that because they aren’t engaging their audience – you will get followed back about half the time. When you include or quote their stuff, that’ll get amplified, and likely some of your stuff will be too. These increased social signals from giving your attention, will be picked up by both the social audience and search engines, and lend greater value to your content, and hence your business reputation. Reddit has a rule – you can share 1 piece of your own content for every 9 pieces of content from others, and they have a tendency to ban accounts that are monologues for any one company. It’s a good rule for those social bookmarking services, and it underscores the need to build social cred – credibility – by giving a lot and asking a little of the audience’s attention.

You Only Post Links to Your Blog.

It’s fine to do it, and helpful, but you also need a steady campaign of creating custom content for your audiences in each social network your company decides to have a voice in. This provides value for those audiences that they couldn’t already get just from your blog or company website. One way to do it is mine your posts for pithy statements and headlines that make good posts in their own right. It’ll help you create better core content, because you’re thinking about the fact that each paragraph or sub-headline you create needs to be valuable enough to stand on its own. Another way is to put your posts into the medium each social media network is designed for – summarize posts for Twitter, script them for Youtube, present them for Slideshare, illustrate them richly for Pinterest, and so on. You can also curate other people’s content from the web for your social audiences, which doesn’t have to be haphazard – it can be organized and systematic, feeding your e-mail marketing as well.

You Don’t Use Hashtags

Hashtags are those all-one-word phrases coupled with a # sign that have become so important in Twitter. Google+ and Facebook also use hashtags, and LinkedIn probably will eventually. Hashtags make your social posts easier to find, and relate them to other useful content in exchange for other people’s content also pointing to your post. Hashtags are the replacement for link exchanges, which offer almost no value, where hashtags increase social follows and engagement. Hashtags can consist of words or phrases for locales, events, industry concepts, concepts that are inspiring or represent futurism and thought leadership, or just about anything that we think other people are using or will use. You can even invent your own hashtags to put out an entirely new concept. Leaving out hashtags ensures that, in the rapidly passing and expiring stream of social posts, yours gets only one chance to be engaged, instead of multiple ongoing chances.

You’re Astroturfing

You’ve outsourced the whole thing to a millennial, ‘expert’, or a foreign agency with endless cheap hours to manage it all, any of which suggests your company is the least qualified to speak to its audience – that your company lacks the vibe, audience understanding, or available time to do so. You’d better believe that disconnect and that disengagement will come through, like it or not. It’s inconsistent to put people you wouldn’t have talking to your clients in their homes, or talking to your potential market as a whole, not to mention leaders in your industry, in front of your social microphone. The mistake is assuming social media is a young person’s thing (it’s not – the fastest growing audiences on Facebook and Twitter are over 50 – the kids are mostly texting and visiting band-oriented networks), or that it’s a technical thing (it’s not – it’s even less sophisticated than sending an e-mail), or that you can automate it and people will engage automatically (they rarely will – you’re burning your marketing dollars for very little return). Marketing astroturf (dumping ‘whatever’ into ‘whatever’ in the social sphere) means you’re a candidate for ridicule, not amplification of your content. If you’re doing it, get a digital marketing coach and stop.

You Don’t Conduct Social Events

Time is a tricksy thing – it looks like one day is like the next, but it never is, even if it feels that way to us. Our businesses have  an immense number of internal and external events going on, and we can always create more. Even when you get a review from a happy client, replying to and cross posting it in the social sphere is one more punctuated ‘happening’ in our day. If you’re not posting live and local events sponsored, hosted, or participated in by your company, consider how to break into event marketing, which is both having the event and discussing the event. Social media is like an endless press release. It’s not that you want to blow it by continual self-promotion; it’s that you want to create meaningful events – virtual and social events or live and local ones – and share updates socially, so people can take advantage of something that screams valuable, useful, and helpful. Don’t forget that you can create event hashtags to go with them. Be innovative – you can even create a ‘day in the life of’ event, if you can focus on what’s fascinating about what you do.

You’re Not Scheduling Posts

No one expects you to sit in front of Twitter all day, much less every other social media network. Crossposting also takes time, and inconsistency has a high cost in social media marketing. There are tools for this. Buffer lets you social post rapidly into the future, pushing content out when your audience is most likely to welcome it and engage. It’s not just about efficiency, it’s a form of respect for your followers. Hootsuite can be used in a similar way, though you schedule posts manually. Tweetdeck will do it for Twitter, and has the added advantage of letting you monitor hashtags, streams, searches, and lists and easily favorite, follow, list, reply, comment, or retweet. Hootsuite has some similar features, but it can feel complicated or daunting, and less focused than a tool aimed at a single social network. Tweetdeck can be accessed in your browser or as an installable software item or app. There are browser add-ins like AddToAny that do a spanking job of letting you curate from the web, and there are more sophisticated curation tools for social and e-mail marketing. Don’t let the tools disengage you from the community, though. This is one reason Tweetdeck is so appealing – it’s actually a better way of engaging and creating engagement on Twitter than Twitter.

Your Social Media is Not on Your Hard Collateral

Of course you’ve got social profile links and social share buttons on your website and blog, but what about business cards, printed promotions, and even company contracts? Who keeps a card file anymore? We scan business cards into our Google Contacts, follow the person in LinkedIn, and toss the card. At least include your Linkedin personal profile and company page URL’s. But if you’re worried that providing links to all your social streams means people will see things that don’t represent you well as a company, that’s a clue that you need to rethink how you interact with social media in the first place. This is a broader discussion, especially when there are multiple company representatives who interact with the public. But it’s an important conversation as well.

To get help with getting the most from your social media marketing efforts, contact MadPipe. We help companies and professionals to find the opportunities, see the blind spots, and nix the mistakes.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership in marketing, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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