Client Services and Operations Director
Posted on December 16, 2016
We first embarked on social media for ourselves around six years ago. Yes, we were a little late to the party. In fact, it took us a further two years to work out how to do it properly.
It was worth persevering. Social media has so many advantages. It allows you to connect and build long lasting relationships with clients and prospects. It offers a different way to present new products and services. And it’s a great opportunity to build your brand image and to help position your company as industry thought leaders.
As we all know, however, social media done badly is a whole other story. It can and will have a negative effect on your brand and, as such, it’s never worth treating casually.
We’ve learnt a lot over the last few years. Here’s our list of 5 big mistakes to avoid.
1 – Only pushing content to sell
We see so many brands doing this, using social content solely to sell. We know it’s tempting, especially when it’s so much easier to quantify ‘success’ in terms of sales and new leads. If you’re only focused on sales, however, that success will be limited.
Not everyone wants to buy right now. If you only talk to the small number people who happen to be ready to commit, you’ll isolate and exclude a huge proportion of your audience. Relationships and trust take time. People use social media to look for useful insights and news, not to be sold to, and the only way you’re going to win their loyalty and respect is to give them what they’re looking for. If all an audience sees is a stream of sales pitches, sadly most of them will simply look elsewhere for the expertise and information they value.
A brand that really gets it right in the financial services arena is @Aviva4Advisers. They share helpful tools for financial advisers to help them grow their business, and advise on the sale of products, as well as reacting to key industry news like the Autumn Statement.
The leads and sales will come, but you must earn them first.
2 – Not connecting with your followers
One of the most unattractive things to see on social media is a feed that looks like it’s run solely by an automated posting programme. People like people. To build a relationship with your audience, you have to talk with them, not just at them!
A good start is to thank people for following you. On Twitter, you CAN automate this, but don’t let it stop there. Don’t be afraid to continue the conversation with people who respond. You could suggest other relevant content they might find useful, or even ask them a question to see if they’re struggling with anything you could help with.
For other channels like LinkedIn and Facebook, if someone likes your article, comments on it, or reposts it, you should respond by thanking them either directly in the comments or send them a private message to say thanks.
There are lots of social media monitoring tools out there, but Brand24 is a good choice, or HubSpot if you want to track all mentions of your company or competitors. With every conversation you start and person you respond to, you never know what might open up into an opportunity for a meeting or a referral.
3 – Not segmenting your audience
You wouldn’t send a single email or brochure out to every person in your database, so neither should you blanket content to everyone on your social channels. Within Twitter, you can create lists matching your audience personas, and then assign content to those personas so that you can target people in smaller, more personal chunks. Name your lists carefully, however, as when you add someone to a list they’ll be notified! Don’t be afraid to use the @ to tag specific people that you want to engage with. People actually enjoy feeling that they’ve been noticed and singled out.
4 – Spreading yourself too thin or not posting anything for months
If you’re new to social media, we’d highly recommend starting out with just one or two channels at the most. Work out which two might be the most important and worthwhile by taking a look our short guide to social media marketing. Spreading your efforts too thin at the beginning will only leave you burnt out and likely make a channel or two look unused. Hold fire and wait until you have a better handle on what your prospects are interested in and what they respond to.
Not posting at all is never good and, worryingly, we still see a lot of large organisations doing this. Don’t set up profiles ‘just in case.’ If it’s live, it should always be active. This requires a good social media content plan from the start to make sure you have plenty to talk about and don’t run out of steam quickly. It’s tempting to dive straight in but plan, plan, plan first. The more often and consistently you post, the more your engagement will increase.
5 – Hiding from negative feedback
And finally, there’s nothing worse than negative comments from customers that go ignored on social. If someone posts something negative, don’t panic and turn a blind eye. Criticism can be just as good an opportunity to communicate your brand personality as positive praise. Make sure you respond quickly with a helpful and friendly response. For any new customers reviewing your business, this is a reassuring and trust-building must-see. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen. Use them to do something positive and move the relationship forward.