As social media marketers, we have a lot to learn and adapt to on a daily basis. With each new day, there are new trends and tactics for us to adopt or dismiss. How do we determine which way to go?
With each new trend or tactic, there’s the chance it isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. The potential is there, but is it worth your own time, efforts, and even your budget? Some social media marketing techniques work, but too many times I see people fall for the wrong ones.
I wrote this article to help you avoid the social media marketing myths and empower you with their alternative best practices. It is with this list that you can strengthen your social marketing without falling for the most common traps.
1) There’s a universal best time to publish on social for everyone
I see them everywhere: “Post on Facebook at 1pm on Wednesdays! Tweet every day at 11am! Don’t post on LinkedIn on weekends!” All these recommendations for best times to publish on social media present a problem instead of the solution.
The problem is: now everyone is going to think that they need to publish content at those times. As Stephan Hovnanian wrote in his article on this subject:
“It’s like announcing at the amusement park which ride you’re going on next, which influences everyone around you to go on the same ride, and then you’re all stuck in line together.”
With everyone posting on Facebook at 1pm on Wednesdays, they’re all going to see their posts get lost amongst the overwhelming supply of content. Now that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use algorithms to filter users’ feeds, it’s even more important that social marketers be strategic with their timing.
Do your own research to create a custom “best times to publish” document. Make one that fits with your own target audience and industry. A great idea is to add your research findings to your overall social media strategy and calendar.
If you’re just getting started with a platform, you can use the standard recommendations in the beginning, but don’t rely on them for long. It’s important that you experiment with your own accounts to see what days and times work best for your brand.
Use platform analytics and third-party tools to get more insight into what’s working and when. You’ll need to determine whether it was the content or the timing that worked.
Once you have a good schedule set up, should you stick with it forever? No. As with everything, your audience, content, and the platform you’re on will all change. You’ll need to continuously adjust your schedule accordingly.
2) Your brand should participate in viral trends
Too often I see brands hop onto the latest trending hashtag just to receive significant backlash. Yes, there are the standard daily trends: “#MotivationMonday,” for example. These aren’t the ones you have to be wary about. It’s the ones that cover current events that have the highest risk.
Sometimes I see marketers recommend participating in viral trends. A few even recommend controversy. This isn’t a good idea for most businesses. You have a brand reputation at stake at the very minimum. At the worst, you also run the risk of sales damage.
If you don’t need to post about a viral trend, you shouldn’t. If your target audience isn’t interested in seeing your opinion on a viral trend, don’t participate. If you know it holds no value for your business and its audience, you are better off focusing your efforts on other techniques.
Marketers often see backlash from participating in viral trends because they didn’t research the topic properly. This is a big mistake. Even if you heavily research what the topic is about, you also need to consider:
• Is this relevant to my business or industry?
• Is my target audience following this trend?
• Is this trend at all controversial?
• Will my contribution be inappropriate in any way?
Be careful which trends you participate in, when, and how:
• You’ll know which trends when you answer the above questions.
• You’ll know when to participate by following trends on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll want to hop onboard before the trend gets old, but do your research first.
• You’ll know how because you’ll have an established social media strategy and great content team. With plenty of monitoring and content brainstorming, you can create a contribution that works for that trend and its audience.
3) Your business should be available in real-time 24/7/365
This just isn’t practical for many businesses, especially SMBs. While social media support offerings are a must in today’s social environment, it’s not a tactic SMBs can offer in real-time, full-time.
With Twitter customer service leading to increased revenue and customer satisfaction, more businesses are spreading their resources thin in an effort to earn those results. It’s simply not something all businesses can offer.
If your business cannot afford a fully-human, real-time support offering, you have options. You want to be able to respond to your audience quickly and effectively, but you don’t have the manpower to do this. What can you do?
Facebook introduced Messenger bots last April during the F8 Conference. Their primary purpose is to give brands a way to automate their customer service through private messaging. The most important part about bots you need to keep in mind is: they are not a 100% automation solution. You still need to monitor questions during the times when your business is open. Bots can’t answer all customer messages, so make sure you’re checking in on what’s been happening while you were away.
You also have another option for being there when it counts. Use a tool that will collect and organize your interactions in one place. You want to find a tool that will make responding faster and easier. The more efficient you are, the less resources you invest. Respond by Buffer is just one example of such a tool. You can also try Hootsuite or Mention.
4) Facebook marketing is dead
A while back, a popular blog site I follow quit Facebook. They stated the lack of organic reach and engagement to be their reasons for the departure. They couldn’t see a return on their investment without being forced to pay for promoted posts and ads.
Are these reasons valid enough to give up on Facebook? The honest answer is: it depends.
Not every business will see the same issues the example above had. Organic reach still has potential despite the Facebook algorithm. Some businesses may even find Facebook to be their best platform for audience engagement. It’s about offering quality content. It doesn’t always have to be about ads and boosted posts.
Does this mean the blog site I mentioned was wrong in their decision? Absolutely not.
Facebook isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not seeing engagement – if your reach is below 2% – if you’re being forced to pay to be seen… Facebook may not be the right platform for you, and that’s okay. It may mean your target audience is more active elsewhere, so it’s better you focus your resources to that platform anyway.
Facebook’s algorithm makes your page presence much more limited than it used to be. Thankfully, you don’t always have to invest financially to get your posts seen. With the following Facebook strategies, you can improve your organic reach to improve both exposure and engagement:
• Experiment with content types. You don’t want to keep using link posts if they aren’t getting anywhere. Try using images and video. Give live streaming a try. Monitor and measure what works for your own audience. Stick to what works, but keep experimenting to find other effective content types.
• Engage with your followers. Ask questions or host a contest. Ask for user-generated content to feature on your page. The more you initiate engagement, the more likely your audience will respond. Your fans will appreciate your efforts to listen and interact, so this is a great way to get more engagement and thus, reach.
• Know when your best publishing times are. If your fans are asleep, it won’t help for your reach if you post during that time. On the other hand, if you did your research to find out when they’re most active on Facebook, you’ll see better results in reach and engagement. Check your page’s Insights section for this information.
• Make your content relevant and helpful. You’ll see more of your fans engage and view your content (click-through) when you share content that is highly useful to them. You don’t want to publish content that they won’t care about. Instead, it’s essential that you know who your fans are and what they want to see from you.
Now, the question is: are you able to commit the necessary resources to create and share the right content for your Facebook audience? If they want to see live video, can you consistently create them? Images are key on Facebook. Can you create and post them on a daily basis?
If you’re having trouble seeing your business invest in all that effort, you might have better luck looking for your target audience on other platforms. However, if your audience is most active on Facebook, you should definitely consider making the necessary changes to your strategy to make your business capable.
5) Your business needs to be active on all the most popular platforms
Not long ago, I came across an article that listed the top social media platforms for marketers. In the article, the author gives you convincing data and reasons for why each platform is important. It’s a handy article if you’re looking for that information.
The problem is: why is the focus on marketers’ benefits? I appreciate the information I see, but it’s missing a key component: why is each platform important to the user? Or, better yet, how are users engaging with businesses on each platform? The author gives you examples, but where is the information about how and why each is effective?
You may also see articles like that one, which convince you to hop onboard the latest, most popular social network. Unfortunately though, this isn’t always the right approach. Your focus shouldn’t be on joining the top platforms. Sometimes, when you don’t research and measure properly first, you can make the mistake of joining a platform that won’t benefit your business.
When you’re deciding whether to join a platform, your primary focus shouldn’t be on its overall user statistics or general activity capabilities. These are secondary compared to what’s most important.
Your first priority should be on researching whether your own target audience is not only on the platform but also active there. That’s right. They can’t simply have a silent account there. If you want to see a high reach and engagement, you need to be on the platform(s) where that will happen.
Only once you know your audience is both there and active should you start considering the following:
• Is my business relevant to the platform’s typical content? A B2B might have a Facebook audience, but are they looking for your presence there or do they prefer to interact with you on LinkedIn?
• Does your marketing budget allow for producing the necessary content types for the platform? If you’re joining YouTube, you’ll want to have the resources for producing frequent, high-quality videos. If you’re joining Instagram, you’ll need to have a photographer and / or graphic designer handy. Several platforms offer video and live-streaming capabilities, and they are very popular with users. Are you prepared for that?
The platform may be “popular,” but you need to check whether your audience wants to see you there. Even if they actively use the platform, they may be using it for other reasons. They may not want to engage with your business there.
It’s important that you research before making the leap. Once you’re there, make sure you’re monitoring its effectiveness regularly. If it’s not producing results after 6 months, re-evaluate your strategy. Maybe you just need to tweak a few things, but maybe you need to abandon ship instead.
You may want to stay with the times and on the right track with your social media marketing, and that’s important. However, what’s most important is that you know what will work best for your business and your target audience. You don’t have to join every new trend or technique. Instead, focus your efforts where they would be most beneficial.