You probably know that social media marketing is essential to promoting your business, or at least you’ve been told so by oodles of marketing blogs. And yet not only is bad advice rampant, but also, there are some hard lessons to be learned that no one thinks to warn you about. Here’s what no one tells you about social media marketing.
Always Grab All Your Usernames
Most marketing gurus advise that you start with one or two social platforms rather than spreading yourself too thin. While that’s good advice, you should still secure your brand name on all platforms. With every major platform gaining new users every day, odds are that someone will choose your name, unless it’s exceptionally rare or unique.
Go ahead and create an account and make an occasional post until you’re ready to scale up your efforts. There are few things worse than getting ready to launch your next account and finding that someone already has the handle you’ve been using on every other platform. Ensure consistent branding by snapping up your brand’s username wherever you can.
Never Buy Followers
I’ve worked for several clients who followed some bad advice to buy followers. Guess what: those “followers” weren’t the least bit interested in their page, and many of them weren’t even real people.
While it’s true that having a high follower account might entice people to follow your page, most people aren’t looking at that. They’re seeing your content in their feed, then perhaps visiting your bio to see if they want to follow you. But they’re following you to see your future content, not because they see that other people are following you.
While people may not care how many followers you have, they DO care if you follow them. The follow–unfollow method developed because someone decided it looked bad if you had almost as many followers as the number of people you were following.
The truth is, reciprocity matters way more than numbers on social media.
When you engage in follow–unfollow, you tell your audience that you only care about their views. That’s a big marketing no-no — and many of them will just unfollow you if you unfollow them. Instead of worrying about your follower–following ratio, spend time engaging with prospective customers. Build relationships that carry over into your sales.
Always Define Your Visual Tone Before You Launch
Just because you have a logo and a color palette does not mean that you’re ready to launch your social campaigns. Especially on Instagram, having a cohesive, attractive feed is essential to standing out from the hundreds of posts that your audience sees. Unfortunately, it’s quite easy to have posts veer “off-look” and become an accidental eyesore, or to have posts that look fine on their own but completely random in your grid.
Some marketers have tried to overcorrect by designing elaborate spreads. I’ve even seen people break up large images into multiple posts so that their Instagram grid progressively builds the image. The problem with that approach is that most people see the posts in the feed, which means that they’re only going to see one piece of your mega-image. It’s a much better idea to develop branded templates before you even start posting, then stick to them.
Never Assume That All Your Followers Will See Your Content
I always assumed that probably 20–40 percent of a page’s followers would see anything posted on a business page. I was shocked to discover that per the algorithm, the number is more like 2 percent. Two percent. (Edit: some estimates say 6 percent. Still.) Even if you have thousands of followers, that’s only a few dozen people — and most of them probably won’t take any action on the post.
That means that your social media marketing strategy has to catch your audience’s attention on a rolling basis. You need to stagger your posts with similar content, then tie them into each other. Twitter threads are great for this: just keep adding to a thread over the span of a few days. And Instagram is a great platform for repurposing content into different visual formats.
Always Stay Positive
No one told me how resoundingly negative people would be on a business’s social media page. I was used to snarky, trolling comments on my personal accounts, but I thought that people would at least have some decorum on professional accounts.
If anything, the trolls came out in full force, leaving comments that had no purpose other than to make fun. As the social media manager for a major college, and later a local government, I was sometimes inundated with nasty remarks. And I realized that people are always going to try to rile things up. I’ve seen some social media managers completely bomb their responses to trolls, thereby lowering their brand’s reputation. It’s hard, but it’s really important to have a thick skin and just ignore the trolls whenever possible.
You also need to stay positive in a personal sense. When you’re promoting a business through social media, you’re facing a lot of pressure to get it perfect. It’s essential that you spend more time preparing, and then engaging, than you do posting. As they say in woodworking shops, “measure twice, cut once.” This tactic will help you stay balanced and sane — no matter how hairy it gets out there.
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