Social Media marketing have several new platforms to inform, share and collaborate with each other the personal and Business level. Initially, started as a social sharing tool most of the platforms are now wooing business from industry. There are free and paid options for prospective business owners but the challenge lies in effectively utilizing them.
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Social media marketing is a relatively new platform compared to website promotion, traditional media and short message services (SMS) campaigns that are more popular among advertisers. Hence, it is not uncommon for new users of the medium to commit mistakes or sins but with a little bit of evaluation and review, the medium can be effectively used to promote products and services.
Here are seven of the sins committed by those using the Social media marketing platform to boost business.
Using Social media for both personal and business purposes
Some people tend to use the FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to post personal thoughts, news, humor and lot of things of interest to laymen but in no way raise brand awareness and revenue growth.
The mistake comes in two ways- one, using personal social media account to boost business and two, using the Social media marketing pages created for business to air personal views and sharing controversial or sensational posts.
In both the cases, the entrepreneur loses out as the business focus is lost and whatever time and effort devoted to it does not produce results. Those unfamiliar with the nuances of social media postings for business could deploy social media experts on a part time basis or full time basis or get the content writers or editors trained in Social media marketing strategies.
The disadvantage of mixing business and personal postings in Social media marketing is that even the family, friends pictures could come along side product, brand promotion and consumers will be put off seeing those images and text.
In the case of personal social media account used for business purposes, friends who are just looking for fun, sharing lighter moments and may be looking for some informative sharing of news, information or trivia would not appreciate the mixing of business promotional images and postings.
In short,the mixing of personal and business social media content would put the entrepreneur or firm in the ‘worst of both worlds’ situation
Airing political and religious views
Every individual will have his own political ideologies and religious convictions but they should not be shared on business Social media marketing platform be it Twitter, FaceBook and Linkedin. If you want to criticize a ruling or opposition political party, or take a stand on religious issue, you can use your personal blog or any other media to air your views and it should not be reflected as the views of the business organization or in your capacity as owner or head of the institution. It should be reflected as personal views.
Apart from the fact that it does not make business sense, it could also upset the customers and the general public. Even among people who share the same faith, there could be difference of opinion on issues related to church, temple or mosque or related institutions, on practices, stand taken on an issue by religious leaders or socio-political issues. In such a pluralistic scenario with in a religious congregation itself, even a well-meaning comment from a business owner can spark a huge controversy. It could then be discussed, taken out of context, criticized and commented upon. Apart from getting negative publicity for the individual, it may harm their business prospects also if it hurts one section of a religious community while being pitted against the other.
Taking a political stand as a business owner is also fraught with risks when it is published on the Social media marketing platform as a controversial statement can go viral and harm the commercial interests of the firm. Even as the business owner may be having affinity to some political ideology over another, it is better to discuss it in closed circles or directly with leaders of political parties if their actions are not in public interest or in interests of industry. It would be better to take such issues to industry bodies such as Confederation of British Industry, American Aluminium Association and so on. Such bodies which represent common interests of that group are in a better position to lobby and air views on issues of regional and national importance.
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Using it only as a free platform
Social media marketing has both free and paid services. For individuals, free services are sufficient to connect with peers, friends and acquaintances as there is no business motive attached to it. However, for businesses, there is business motive behind having a presence in Social media marketing. It should help create more awareness about its products, help in brand building, achieve more sales revenue and achieve a better return on investment (RoI). Many businessmen and enterprises feel that availing free services are sufficient to boost business and don’t spend a penny for availing value added services be it Twitter, FaceBook or LinkedIn. In the case of FB or Twitter, the increase in followers and likes or shares could be slower when only free services are availed while a small investment in boosting can reap benefits in terms of increased likes or shares.
Unlike business promotion through traditional channels such as newspapers, television and radio or hoardings, the business needs to have external agencies to do the creative and release the promotional material. However, the Social media marketing promotions can be done in-house with the help of credit cards, online banking or Paypal for payments which can begin with a low budget of less than a dollar for boosting posts in FB.
Non-responsive or over-reactive pages
Having a presence in the Social media marketing. I only the beginning of the whole process. How you create posts, images, share links and comment upon relevant issues are very much important. It could be related to a product or service enquiry, it could be about a faulty or defective product, or an enquiry regarding an upgradation. If the platform does not provide quick response or replies to such queries, visitors or customers may be put off and lack trust in the social media process of the business.
It makes sense to have a dedicated team of people to update posts and respond to reader comments. Sometimes, it could also be in the form of seeking a new information or opinion on a product or service. The efficiency of the Social media marketing platform depends on how quickly it responds. These days social media behavior is also used by the industry to scan and get important data related to buying and spending habits, products purchased, places visited and views on products.
The resulting compilation of structured or unstructured data is often called Big Data. A firm can obtain meaningful insights based on big data which can be useful for designing new products, improve existing products and devise new strategies in business and marketing.
Businesses should not take negative comments and give canned responses for such input received from consumers. It should be taken as an opportunity to further engage with the consumer and set the problems right to achieve consumer satisfaction.
Some companies delete consumer complaints so that people do not become aware of product defects or service deficiencies. It may be a short-sighted measure and ultimately result in lower consumer satisfaction and growth of business.
Frequency of positing is also important for success- if it is too low or too high, the result would not be encouraging. For eg. last posted a month ago or a year ago- this is enough to put off a visitor. Timely updation of pages makes your page fresh and relevant to audience. The business is also losing great opportunity to drive sales, engagement of audience and interaction with clients.
Improper use of medium
There are various options available to businesses for Social media marketing and each has its own merits and demerits. Therefore, a careful consideration of strength and weaknesses is very vital for getting the most benefit out of money and effort taken.
For example, FaceBook is good when the content is more visual- images, graphics, photos and videos whereas a mere textual content will not appeal to its audience. The likelihood of mere textual material being shared is less likely when compared to a posting having info-graphic, pictures and videos.
Twitter is best for textual messages although it does have option for posting pictures too. It is useful for broadcasting messages, join an ongoing conversation or tweet popular posts.
LinkedIn would not be useful for product promotion, fashion, consumer goods categories. It is ideal for business-to-business (B2B) promotion, to connect to a professional audience and establish your thought leadership within a group of homogeneously targeted audience. Instagram should be used for showing beautiful images or videos of products not for textual content promotion.
Pinterest would be useful if the audience is predominantly American and consists of more women than men. Google+ is a good platform to enhance your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and participate in Google communities or like-minded people.The important message here is that it doesn’t make sense to be on top on all the Social media marketing platforms, it is important to prioritise the important ones and concentrate more on those.
Not hiring talented professionals in social media marketing
Social media marketing is an emerging platform with lot of opportunities and benefits. But to benefit from it, there has to be a proper understanding of the functioning of alogrithms in social media just as it works in search engines. Having laymen or existing employees with no awareness about Social media marketing could only result in less than optimum results compared to time and money spent on it.
It makes business sense to have Social media marketing experts either on a consultancy basis, or part time or full time basis depending on the budget and scope of deployment of platforms for business promotion. Social media marketing experts ensure that selection of content, tags,images, videos and sharing or liking are most appropriate and done with the objective of boosting business. Moreover, care should be taken not to over-react on a particular issue, or use satire inappropriately and load content that turn out to be spam.
There should be a proper assessment of the target audience- for example if it is predominantly youth, some quirkiness can be put into overall messaging while it should be avoided if the audience is mixed or in middle to older age groups. If it is a B2B business, the postings should reflect a professional tone and not casual. Such finer nuances can ofcourse be learnt by the content team but with a bit of professional help from Social media marketing experts, the task would be much simpler.
Some companies have the habit of hashtagging all trending topics in FaceBook or other platforms with the result content not relevant to its business or interests of its audience will get published every now and then. Just as in search engine optimization, if too much importance is given to key words without looking at the context and quality of content.
Hashtagging trending topics should be done only if it is very relevant to the industry.
Talking only business
Agreed that Social media marketing for business is meant to promote business but if the content is only about the company’s products, services, events with in the company, logos, objectives, or important personalities in the company, readers or consumers could go elsewhere for interesting content.
For example, if it is a nutritional products or health products company, the content could also be related to new research findings, or a new health hazard, healthy living habits and so on which engages the consumer or reader on a sustained basis. This also gives the message that the company‘s intention is not merely to sell or market its products but wants to share useful information to its target audience. A business can improve its image among the public by posting socially, environmentally relevant messages to the public. It can also be about national integration, religious tolerance and festivities.
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