Many businesses today make the mistake of thinking that social media marketing is easy. Write a couple of Facebook posts, send out a few tweets, add some arty shots on Instagram – job done. Well, not quite. Great social media marketing is much more complex than that. It requires time, energy, money and patience. Overnight success is rare – social media needs regular nurturing and takes a lot of time to flourish and grow. The good news? If your social media marketing isn’t working, there are a number of steps you can take to address this. But there are no fast fixes. And you’ll need to make a number of honest assessments in order to create a successful new strategy.
What is social media marketing?
A good place to start is with a definition. What exactly is social media marketing? According to Buffer, it’s the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience. Done properly, it allows you to build your brand, increase sales and drive website traffic. The main social media platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Some will be more suitable than others for your audience – and your business objectives.
It might sound obvious, but knowing exactly what it is you want your social media marketing to achieve is key. Thinking along the lines of ‘everyone else is on Facebook, so we should be too’, is not the way forward. Your first priority must be to set actionable and attainable social media marketing goals. In other words, work out what you want – and then you can work out how to achieve it.
Identify your target market
If your social media marketing isn’t working, check who you’re addressing it to. Your core audience is everything. If you’re not targeting and connecting with them, you’re in trouble. Identify your target, and then create a campaign that’s relevant to their specific needs and interest.
As already explained, your content (via social media or otherwise) should always be valuable, relevant and consistent. Think quality over quantity every time – and always be mindful of balance. Over-posting is just as bad as infrequent social media activity. The recommended frequency of posts varies according to the different platforms. Bear in mind that what works for your specific business could be different again. So you might need to experiment a little to discover the optimum formula. As a general guideline, keep things fresh, without bombarding your audience. Make sure you’re posting at the optimum time, as social media usage ebbs and flows. But never post just for the sake of it. Low-value content achieves nothing except alienation.
They say that variety is the spice of life – and it’s certainly important where social media marketing is concerned. It takes time and effort, but you must optimise your content for each platform you use. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that exactly the same posts will work well on each one. They may not for different reasons. Character counts vary. Hashtags don’t always translate (and neither do emojis). Aside from the technical constraints, the audience – and their objectives – may vary, too. Most people want different things from Pinterest than they do from Twitter. So you must adapt your marketing accordingly. If you’re struggling to accomplish this, do less, but better. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Channel your resources and focus on just one or two platforms at a time. Manage them well, and you’ll reap the rewards. Sign up to everything out there, and you’ll probably struggle. Social media is great. But you really can have too much of a good thing.
The art of engagement
In communication terms, social media is a two-way street. If your social media marketing isn’t as effective as you’d like it to be, it’s time to re-examine your engagement levels. You need to respond to comments and answer questions. However, you also need to like other posts. You need to take part in digital discussions. And, of course, need to prove to your audience that they matter to you, and that you are listening to your followers. Nobody likes to be ignored, or to feel taken for granted. Lack of participation markedly decreases the value of your social presence, and what it can achieve.
Unfortunately, sometimes negative feedback happens. It’s tempting to ignore it and hope it will just go away. This is not a successful strategy. Of course you don’t have to respond to every negative mention/comparison. But act swiftly to address genuine problems or customer service issues. Seize the opportunity to publicly put something right. Acknowledge the issue; apologise if appropriate; reassure that the situation will improve. Your audience will respect a response where you keep the dialogue polite, specify the action to be taken, and give a timeline.
Manage your metrics
How are you measuring the impact of your social media marketing? Some of the most common evaluation measures are the so-called ‘vanity metrics’ of friends, followers and likes. Of course, it’s great to see these grow. But they don’t always tell the whole story. And it’s quite possible for them to have no correlation whatsoever to sales levels, for example.
Explore deeper. Use a reputable tool, such as Google Analytics, to learn exactly the type of content your audience responds to. Discover which social networks they prefer – and which social media platforms deliver the most traffic. Analyse everything, including the quality as well as the quantity of your followers. To build a successful social media marketing strategy, you need to monitor engagement, customer conversion and buying decision trends. This will help you to successfully tailor your campaigns to specific demographics, in order to achieve your business goals.