Signs You’re Failing at Social Media by Susan Young

(And What to Do About It)

There are plenty of columns these days about how to get started in social media. In fact, as I was researching this column, I found that the previous columnists have done a great job of introducing the topic, relaying important trends and providing industry insight into how social media works. By now, most of your businesses have probably created social media pages, and may be regularly posting content. But have you evaluated how successful your social media marketing has fared thus far? Here are the top signs that your company is failing at social media, along with some advice on how to turn the tide:

  1. “All About Me” Syndrome: If your company is all about itself on social media, only posting promotions or plugging your own products and services, it’s time to reverse course. Too much selling can turn off your followers. In fact, they may decide not to follow you at all if they see that all your posts are just promotional in nature. Try mixing up your posts with useful information that would be relevant to your audience. Share information from partners or colleagues. Give people a perspective that they wouldn’t normally see from an ad or sales brochure. Communicate your company’s personality or community involvement in your social media marketing. As a rule of thumb, no more than 20 percent of your social media posts should include promotional material; the rest should be educational, entertaining or interactive.
  2. Not Engaging your Audience: Your social media followers have chosen to follow you because they either like your brand, want to learn more about your company, or they want to feel a part of your customer community. If you’re not engaging with your followers or fans, they won’t like, comment or share your posts, meaning you’ll risk losing visibility in their news feeds, thanks to new algorithms on Facebook. If your page is suffering from poor engagement, you need to start interacting more with your followers on social media. Some ways you can do this include customer polls, using photos or questions, or crafting more compelling headlines for your blog post shares.
  3. Posts are Too Infrequent: If you’re not posting something on social media regularly, you could be impacting your visibility on news feeds (particularly Facebook) when you do post something. On social media sites like Twitter, frequency is key to reaching followers, who may not see your feed due the hundreds or thousands of other posts that come across their screen each session. When sharing company blog posts, try posting the same message in two different ways (such as unique headlines or call-out text), at two different times of day to reach more followers. If you or your team do not have the capacity to maintain an active, frequent presence on your social media pages, get some help. Options include enlisting trusted team members to log in and post; using (but not abusing) auto-scheduling tools such as Hootsuite to automate your regular posts, or hiring a social media marketing firm to supplement your current efforts.
  4. No one’s following me: Lack of followers or fans on social media is one of the more common issues I see among Indianapolis-area small businesses. There are several ways to combat this problem. One way is to make sure you are including your social media pages and links on all other forms of marketing and communication -- on your team’s email signatures, on every page of your website, at the bottom of customer invoices, in advertisements and on business cards. Send out a one-time email campaign to all your current customers, partners, friends, family and colleagues, asking them to follow your pages. Periodically cross-promote your Facebook page on your LinkedIn page and Twitter page, and vice-versa. Share and engage on other industry, partner or customer pages as your page to create a viral effect that will drive new visitors to your page. Finally, consider boosting your page followers or fans by doing some targeted, paid advertising to get your numbers up, and then continue to engage and post valuable content once they are fans.
  5. I’m not seeing any ROI from social media: One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the social media marketing world is to get results from your efforts. While posting daily on social media may not seem to result in any direct sales, there are multiple ways you can measure success. Ask yourself: Are you seeing an increase in followers and engagement? If so, you are continuing to grow your fan base, and still gaining valuable visibility among your target audience. Social media can serve as a place to stay top-of-mind when your customers are ready to buy. Continue to stay in front of them, showcasing your expertise and industry insight, and eventually they’ll come around. Include some calls-to-action periodically in your posts and on your profile page to encourage people to visit your website, contact you to learn more, download a case study, or request a trial. Finally, regularly review your social media analytics to see what type of posts and times of day are more popular, and use data to improve your posts.

Susan Young

There are few companies that are succeeding at social media, so don’t be discouraged and give up on this ever-changing marketing vehicle. Invest some time and energy into improving what you do post on social media, and you’ll start to grow your followers, engage more fans and see better results from your efforts.

Susan Young is President of AimFire Marketing, an Indianapolis-area content marketing firm, specializing in websites, blogging and social media. You can visit her marketing tips blog at www.aimfiremarketing.com, follow her on Twitter @aimfiremktg or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/aimfiremarketing.