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2018 is shaping up to be a powerful year for social media marketers, with more businesses than ever taking the decision to create at least one social account. For the first time in history, it’s actually less common for a business NOT to use social media. However, as fast as platforms are growing, they are evolving, which can be extremely detrimental to businesses that aren’t on top of their social game. The everchanging social media landscape means businesses must work incredibly hard to make sure their social media marketing efforts aren’t dated, dull or downright ineffective.

Here’s a list of the biggest social media marketing mistakes that you need to avoid. By doing so, you’ll be on the path to social success – paved with increased brand awareness, engagement and a lift in sales and leads.

Failing to create a social media marketing strategy

Imagine if you were a baker, and your goal is to make a wedding cake. Would you start to decorate the cake before you had even bought the ingredients? Social media operates on the same principle. Without a strategy in place, you will never be able to run a truly successful social media campaign. Many businesses will admit to posting across channels wildly, hoping that some of their efforts yield success. Having an end-to-end strategy (from development to implementation, through to delivery and beyond) will allow data-led decisions to drive your social channels to success.

Not defining your goals

Setting business goals for social media marketing is a vital step to succeeding at social media. Without clear, defined goals, it can be extremely difficult to understand how well your strategy is performing, and to identify the actions you need to take to continue moving forwards. When setting said goals, make sure they are well defined. Broad targets such as “get more followers” is far too vague. Make sure the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

Targeting the wrong audience

Are you creating social media content based on what you assume your fans and followers will like? Understanding your core audience is crucial to social media success – and taking the time learn about your audience is an action worth its weight in gold. In doing so, you will discover the best ways to attract and connect with your target audience – as well as gain insight into the kind of content that will resonate with them, through mediums they use, and in a tone that will resonate. How old are they? What are their hobbies? How do they consume content? What websites do they visit? What do they engage with? These are the kind of questions that you should confidently be able to answer.

The most effective way to research your audience is through Social Listening. Tracking mentions and notifications is instrumental in understanding your audience – but analysing the context and larger trends around those conversations through social listening can give you invaluable insight to better speak to and serve your target audience.

Not using a content calendar

A content calendar should be your go to document to support your greater social media marketing plan. There are a number of benefits to creating a central document which outlines all of the activity across all of your social media platforms:

You’ll never miss important dates. One of the most important elements that a content calendar must contain is key business dates – i.e. holidays, events, product launches, campaigns and relevant trending holidays.

Content will be clearly laid out and well organised. Whilst it may sound obvious that having a content calendar will keep your publishing schedule organised, it’s surprising how many businesses don’t use one. It’s important not to overlook the impact that forward planning can have on the efficiency of your social media marketing plan. By knowing what you’re publishing, when and where, it’s easy to maintain a consistent content plan that allows for quick and easy review.

You’ll save time. By planning content ahead (we recommend a month in advance) you’ll undoubtedly time in the long run. It also makes block sessions of scheduling much easier – which again, will save you valuable time in your working day.

You will gain a deeper understanding of successful content. Not only does a content calendar provide a clear framework and structure for your content activities, but more importantly, it frees up time for performance reporting, rather than last minute scheduling.

Not tracking analytics

There is little point in using social media without actioning insights off the data you receive. Insights can be found in a variety of places – with metrics provided by the platform themselves, and external third-party companies providing additional information. This ties in with setting the correct social media goals – without analysing the data and looking at the relevant metrics, how can you ever clarify if you’ve successfully achieved your goals?

Negleting paid social media advertising

Social media is increasingly becoming a “pay to play” platform – more so than ever before. Gone are the days of high organic reach and impressions. It’s vital that businesses adapt their social media and embrace the benefits of paid social media advertising – particularly given that organic posts now reach less than 20% of followers. Through social adverts, not only can you target social media users at an extremely granular level (think job title, key words, demographics, site behaviour), you can set campaign goals which will optimise the audience your ad is shown to, based on the likelihood that they will convert. Paid social reaches more people, and when used correctly it can help generate awareness, leads, followers, video views, purchases, and much more.

Limiting the content types

Do you ever scroll through your social feeds and think they look stagnant? Has your engagement stalled and your page growth frozen? It could well be time to introduce new content. Video is king across social media – use it abundantly to beat the algorithms (video content will automatically be favoured over every other content in the feed). Pair engaging video with strong creatives, infographics, gif and polls to create “thumb stopping” content that your followers can’t ignore.

Not having a social media policy

Having a solid, current social media policy is a must have for every business. Whilst many employees consider their work/private lives as two separate entities, social media blurs that distinction significantly. It’s important that employees understand that anything they post on social media may reflect on the company they work for. Most importantly, a good social media policy outlines what is and is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on social networks, and allows employees to have clear guidelines on what the organisation considers public information about its business. No business wants to find themselves in a legal battle around social media in the workplace. A social media policy provides clarity, and is an essential document to be circulated within your business.

From audience profiling, paid social campaign planning/delivery and social media workshops, to strategy and channel selection, content plans, audits and social listening, our inhouse expert social media team offers a broad variety of social media services which can help accelerate and achieve your business goals. Contact our Digital Strategist, Jade, for more information: jadem@social-communications.co.uk