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The Biggest Social Media Mistake

There are many, many things you can do wrong on social media, each with varying degrees of consequence.

For example, you could treat your page like a billboard and only post content about your products. I call this the “adversarial advertiser.” It’s annoying, but it at least looks like you’re trying. You could also post too much content with very little strategy and turn into a “shotgun socializer.” Again, it’s annoying, but it doesn’t make you look clueless. You’ll lose a bunch of followers because they see too much of you, not because they can’t take you seriously.

Well, in that case, the worst mistake must be posting content that is entirely off-brand. Obviously, a sophisticated B2B company that posts cat memes is an absolute tragedy. No one likes a “mixed-up messenger.” True, but if it gets a laugh, who knows? You may get plenty of followers.

These are bad, but only one mistake will deliver a knockout blow to your credibility every single time. It’s much more sinister than any of the others because no one knows you’re even committing this sin until it’s too late. The worst mistake you can make on social media is creating an account and then letting it just…sit there. The “ghosttown.”

Why is this a problem?

While you aren’t being annoying, the real problem with dead accounts is that the only people who notice are the people who matter most. There’s no activity on your pages, so anyone who finds your pages was obviously looking for it. They’ve heard about you from some other source and they are seeking more information. But a Google search of “YOUR BRAND + Facebook” delivers a Facebook page with a creation date and not much else. It’s a disappointment to the interested customer, and it should be an even bigger disappointment to you – there goes your chance to make a great first impression.

Plus, how likely do you think interested customers are going to stick around when their next Google search, “COMPETITOR + Facebook” returns a great page layout and interesting information. A well-maintained page implies a well-maintained business. The same can’t be said for a dead page.

How consistent should you be?

It’s very understandable why certain organizations have dead social media pages. They’re usually small and lack the time or manpower for upkeep. Ideally a business should tweet three to four times per day, post to Facebook and LinkedIn three to four times per week, create a YouTube video once every other month, and pin something once per day. That’s just content creation. There are also analytics and optimal posting times to keep up with. Comments need to be answered, images and promotions have to be updated. Most social media managers spend 15 to 20 hours per week keeping up with all the content, and many small business owners don’t have that kind of time.

Keep in mind, though, that 15 to 20 hours per week is the ideal. You can get away with far less and still look like you know what you’re doing. Facebook really only needs to be updated 4 – 8 times per month, and you can get away with 2 – 5 tweets every week, provided they are quality tweets. You don’t need a YouTube channel, just like you don’t need Pinterest. The only accounts that are really necessary are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This should seem way less daunting.

Social media is absolutely a “you get out what you put in” situation. However, if you’re not putting anything into it, you’ll end up costing yourself much more than if you didn’t have a social media page to begin with. Follow these tips, and you can maintain pretty decent pages — decent enough to make a great first impression on those potential customers.

Tips for maintaining consistency:

There’s a reason we use so many “consistency” slogans, because consistency really is key.  Putting one foot in front of the other is the key to building trust. By the mile is hard, but the inch is a cinch. Step-by-step, my friends. Here’s how to consistently keep that page alive:

  • Use Google Alerts for content:  Create Google Alerts (they’re completely free) about buzzwords in your industry. Each morning, you’ll have new content ideas delivered right to your inbox. Speaking of email …
  • Make it part of emails:  Every morning, I have the same routine: Answer email. Post and schedule social media content for the day. It’s like brushing my teeth.
  • Hire an intern:  Have someone else do the work for you. You can provide great experience to marketing and PR students all the while keeping your social media pages from dying. There are, of course, some pitfalls here. When hiring, put out notices three months before you would like your intern to start, otherwise you’ll end up with candidates that have waited until the last minute. The type-A students usually have their spring internships finalized at the end of October.
  • Relax:  Consistency is key, not perfection. If you miss a day, it’s fine. If you miss a week, it’s fine. Just pick up where you left off.
  • Post in batches:  One great content generator is an event. For a restaurant or nonprofit, this could be a physical event at which you take plenty of photos to upload to Facebook. For a B2B or tech company, this could be a web seminar or Twitter chat. For a service-oriented business, it could be the winner of a promotion contest. Not only does it create excellent social media content, it will probably generate quite a few followers as well.

In the end, you only need to make sure you keep at it. All it takes is 10 minutes to update all of your social media channels. Do that three times per week, and you’ve only spent 30 minutes. That’s well-invested time which will improve your credibility, engagement with your audience, and online profile.

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