Social Media: You’re doing it all wrong

I’ve been doing a lot of networking recently and time and time again I find myself speaking to small businesses that say their social media activity is a waste of time as it’s not delivering any form of commercial benefit for them.

And yes they are right. It is a waste of time because they are doing it all wrong.

Nowadays if your company doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter page you’re looked at like a Martian, whether your company sells plumbing services, hair products or church supplies (yes believe it or not, it is a really big industry)! Unfortunately, because of this mentality, too many companies are approaching social media in completely the wrong way.

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You don’t ‘need’ to be Facebook

Recently, an online business that sells top of the range tape measures approached me to help them their with social media strategy. They were looking to sell their products in bulk to large-scale construction companies. “Well first of all we obviously need to be on Facebook” was the first thing that came out of the Directors mouth. Why? To spend loads of money promoting your top of the range tape measures in the hope that the Purchasing Manager from Balfour Beattie might happen to see the post and put an order in for 3000 tape measures?? No no no, there are much better ways to target Mr Balfour Beattie in this situation such as email, Linkedin advertising, personalised direct mail and even good old face to face selling! Facebook is not always the one and definitely not the right channel in this situation.

Your content needs to be good

One week later a fitness supplement (protein and vitamins) brand approached me at a network event to say “social media just isn’t working for us, we’re hardly getting any new business from it”. Hmmm I thought… a strong, attractive brand, ripe for social media with a target audience spending a supposed 9 hours a day fixated to their screens. What is going on here then Julie?! I had a look at what said brand were attempting to do with their social media activity and then called Julie to say sorry, you’re just doing it all wrong.

The Facebook copy was far too long. So long it was like reading a blog post in a update. Sometimes there were 5 posts a day then weeks would go by with no posts. There was no sign of any paid activity and don’t even get me started on why there were posts without imagery…

Their Twitter was just a constant feed of re-tweets, no owned content, too many hashtags, no engagement with followers and not enough imagery!!

Their Instagram… well let’s just leave that one for now.

Julie has a great product and a great brand. Social is not working for her because she’s doing it all wrong. And to be fair on Julie, why would she know the tricks of the trade? Julie wouldn’t attempt to write and create a direct mail campaign on her own and would almost certainly hire some experts to create an email or PPC campaign for her. Because social media is so accessible, cheap and a normal part of our personal lives too, business owners think they can just magically start posting and sales will come flooding in. That would be really nice…but it doesn’t work like that. It’s a complex and technical beast that needs to be treated with the right care, creativity, time and attention.

You need a strategy

Firstly you need a strategy. A strategy that looks at your objectives, competitors, market, audience, possible platforms, key themes and ideas and how you’re going to measure success. Just posting on social media with no strategy is like attempting to cook boeuf bourguignon without a recipe. It can be done, but it won’t look or taste very pretty!

You must define success properly

Counting ‘followers’ on Twitter and ‘likes’ on Facebook as the key metric for social media success is a classic mistake, sure by having a large number of these is a good thing, but it’s not the be all and end all. What does this ‘Like’ actually deliver for you? If they aren’t engaged in your brand and would never consider purchasing from you then there’s really no point in have them at all… You want relevant likes that are going to become loyal advocates of your brand.

I could go on forever but I won’t…

I think once people get past this mindset and see social media as a marketing tool for selling, brand awareness, engagement, research, communication and relationship building, then businesses might start to see more results.

Social media does work. With the right approach it works wonders. Only last week I ran some Facebook advertising for a great hotel client of mine. The advert was very carefully targeted, written well, with a great image and a budget of £200. The rooms we were selling cost £109 each (£54.50pp). By then next day our advert had already sold 120 rooms totalling up a nifty 13 grand of profit overnight…and that’s before the guests had even reached the hotel and started spending money. My client was bouncing off the walls with excitement.

Social media does work, I promise. You just gotta do it right.

Looking to for a social strategy that delivers? Contact me.

Author Jenny Emslie Photograph

Jenny Emslie

Founder and Managing Director