The Three Biggest Social Media Marketing Mistakes of 2013

Making changes for the New Year isn’t just about moving forward, it’s also about looking back on the mistakes we’ve made over the past year so we can avoid them in the future. Whether or not you believe in resolutions or turning over a good leaf, it’s always good practice to separate the past from the future and now seems like as good a time as any to draw that line.

3 Social Media Mistakes to Cut Out in 2014

With that said, here are three mistakes that we’ve seen time and time again in social media marketing.

1) Focusing on the Sale and Not the Relationship.

As it was originally designed, social media networks weren’t made for marketing. They were made for-as their name implies-networking. They are for staying in touch and building relationships. So many marketers forget this and get onto social media platforms with the lunatic idea that all of these people are simply there to buy something or stay in touch with the latest gadgets and gizmos. That is just not the case.

Social media should be used to cultivate your relationships with your audience. The likes you get won’t translate into sales and the ads you bombard your customers with aren’t going to do anything except get them to hide you in their newsfeeds. Instead, you should provide information about who you are as it pertains to who your customers are. Direct selling is not a pretty face to put on in the social media fields.

2) Not Focusing on Results.

Having your social media posts shared and liked and commented on and going viral can be an exciting thing, but if it’s only giving you a little popularity rush, what’s the point? The point with any marketing should always be the results-the bottom line. Who cares if half of your followers liked your latest status-was it a picture of a puppy dog and a kitten? No wonder!

But what did that do for your business? Launching targeted social media campaigns that build a long-lasting relationship with your customers is what garners results. To do this, you need to provide quality content that is engaging and valuable to your audience. Whether this means you are entertaining them instead of direct selling them or providing a serious solution to a common problem, the point is that the more loyalty you build up to your brand, the better your results are going to be. Look at social media as an ongoing organic marketing campaign full of soft sells, even if you are paying for ads and boosting posts. Paid traffic should never influence your content on on social platforms-on the contrary, the quality of your content should influence your decision as to which posts to boost.

3) Not Engaging with Enough Stories.

Finally, a combination of the first two mistakes plus a tiny twist of extra incompetence results in our third biggest social media mistake: not creating stories that your audience wants to share or engage in. Simply posting information pertaining to your latest product or service isn’t really going to get many people going. Take a look at some of the bigger marketing campaigns out there-they typically have a human element that matters to people driving home the larger message. And while you’re certainly not expected to compare with these larger market campaigns, it doesn’t hurt to borrow a page from their book and add a human element to your social posts to make them more engaging.

Correcting Social Media Mistakes the Right Way

Of course, fixing these mistakes is much easier said than done-unless you know the right tricks.

3 Tips To Effective Engagement on Social Media

The past holiday season was perhaps the biggest showcase of the year for advertisers in Lebanon and the Middle East. During which, many brands hope to improve their social media marketing efforts in order to take advantage of the many opportunities it contains and to avoid major marketing pitfalls. As ad space becomes scarce, more brands look to get a piece of the action, despite the fact that advertising costs skyrocket and chances of making an impression plummet.

With digital literacy going up in Lebanon and the rest of the region, social media has emerged as an increasingly popular source for entertainment, research and socializing, particularly during Ramadan when people have significant free time on their hands.

But how exactly would you achieve better quality ads and reach your target audience on social media at an affordable price?

Tip 1: Know Your Customer

This is usually the starting point of every marketing plan. Businesses claiming they know their target audience strictly from experience, often squander vast sums of money on advertising and end up being disappointed with their ROI.

I always find it useful to start by defining my client’s target consumer and then back it up by solid research. If you’re not familiar with defining a target consumer, you might find it useful to sketch up personas. Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you personalize a market segment you’re trying to attract.

With the help of research, CRM, sales team’s feedback, social media interactions and your very own experience, you might find it useful to create personas based on:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests and Behaviors
  • Income
  • Social networks they’re most active on

If you have several target audiences you may want to create several buyer personas, each representing a unique segment. You’ll then assign as many demographic and psychographic details as you deem fit. I still remember some of the personas a client of mine created; “Go Getters”, “Attention Seekers”, and “Hamra Dwellers”.

This exercise can be a lot of fun, especially if your graphic designer decided to impersonate them as funny cartoons or characters from a popular TV show.

A hidden benefit is that you could explore new audiences you never thought of before. If your persona is a teenager, and you haven’t known what teenagers did since N’Sync were popular, you may hire an intern or host a focus group with teenagers from your family.

Bottom line: the clearer your avatar is, the easier it is to find them on social media.

You may find it more difficult when you tackle your persona’s psychographic angle because there’s so much information that’s relevant to how and why people make their purchasing decisions. You may want to start asking yourself:

  • What’s their preferred method of communication? Phone or email?
  • What’s their motivation for using social media?
  • How often do they try new things? How important is peer review?
  • What are their aspirations? This is a big question. Uncovering customers’ higher motives often affects the kind of content you share (message, image, tone of voice… ).

Research tells us that consumers across the Arab world in Ramadan tend to watch more videos, do more searches, and spend more time on mobile.

As any experienced marketer will tell you, seasonality is very important. Allow me to demonstrate.

  1. Go to Google Trends/ Explore
  2. Write the term ‘Vimto’. To those unfamiliar with this product, it’s a popular soft drink sold extensively in GCC.
  3. Select ‘Saudi Arabia’ and set the duration to ‘past 5 years’

Running the same report for any other Gulf nation reveals huge spikes in search during Ramadan. Then after Ramadan, the term’s search volume drops back to a flat line, reflecting the beverage’s return to relative online obscurity.

Tip 2: Know Your Market

Once you have a good sense of what your audience looks like and how it behaves online, you can use Facebook Ads Manager to estimate the size of your audience.

Additionally, Google Analytics can provide a world of insight into how visitors interact with your website: where they come from, how they got there and what services they’re interested in. Such insights can help you reduce the cost of social media ads. Inside Google Analytics, right under the Acquisition tab, you can see which networks your audience is engaging with you on. It’s a good idea to visit Facebook Insights to validate your findings.

Now, let’s sneak a peek at your competitors. Facebook is the epicenter of social networks, so it’s best to start there and see how active your competitors are. Head over to Facebook Insights, and click on ‘Add Pages’ under ‘Overview’. Select three to five competitors.

This step allows you to keep an eye on your competitors’ activity and will tell you how their audience is engaging with them on Facebook.

Follow your competitors on Instagram and Twitter too. Find out what hashtags they’re using and how often their posting images or tweeting. It’s always a good idea to write down any competitor you can think of on an Excel sheet before adding their Instagram usernames and Twitter handles in adjacent columns.

Another good idea is to create a competitors list on Twitter. Just don’t forget to make it private.

Facebook offers a lot of tools to help you reach your target audience. Have you tried the Audience Insights tool? Using Audience Insights, you can gather a lot of useful insights on your audience such as:

  • Demographics
  • Page Likes
  • Location and Language
  • Facebook Usage

Another great way to expand your audience on Facebook is to target lookalike audiences. When you create a Lookalike Audience, you choose a source audience (a Custom Audience created with a data partner, your pixel data, your mobile app data or fans of your Page). Facebook then identifies the common qualities of the people in it (ex: demographic information or interests).

Now that you’ve identified your audience, how exactly do you grow and maintain customers on social media? The answer, in my opinion, lies in two major elements:

1. Nature of the social media platform utilized, and

2. Type content is published on those platforms

Let’s take Facebook. Facebook is closing in on the 2 billion milestone. The first quarter witnessed 80 million new users, contributing to a whopping 1.94 billion monthly active users and 1.28 billion daily active users.

But is YOUR audience on Facebook? If the answer is yes, remember the following guidelines that have worked for a lot of my clients:

  • Post regularly- daily if possible
  • Repost original content but never follow the same text or layout. This is particularly important if you have trouble coming up with new content. Experiment with infographics, videos or images. I use iMovie and Ripl for videos and WordSwag, Canva and Photoshop for visuals.
  • Try to schedule your posts to times your audience is most active. I use Hootsuite and Later.
  • Use a different headline when you decide to repost.
  • Boost visibility by asking your team members to post the original and its variations on their pages.

Tip 3: Measure Your Ad Performance

Now that you’ve defined your audience and experimented with content and publishing, run your analytics. Facebook offers a great analytical tool under Ads Manager. You’ll be able to measure each ad’s performance against its audience. Unless you run analytics, you won’t be able to determine which social media strategy is doing well. If a campaign is performing less than expected, compare it to other ads, study its cost-per-result and try to find out what’s wrong. It may be the message, tone of voice, image or something else. Remember, it’s better to focus on two platforms that are performing well rather than be on every social media channel.

Finally, inject some personality into your brand. I am a big fan of “Sandwich w Noss” Facebook presence. To those of you unfamiliar with the brand, they’re a local street food restaurant with great presence on Facebook and Instagram. With active discussions, humorous photos, and almost always engaging content, they never fail to disappoint their customers!

Decide on a personality for your brand, then work on a content that promotes that personality. Add engaging content to the mix and you’ll have an established brand following.

People in Lebanon are now online more than ever before. This trend only seems to escalate during the holy month. By properly defining your audience, and deciding on a great content strategy there’s is ample opportunity to reach and shape the perceptions of your target audiences.

Social Media Marketing – Top 3 Social Media Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

In order to have a successful online business, there are some strategies that you must implement. Having a social media marketing strategy is one of them. It is OK to have a website or a blog and use different internet marketing techniques to get people to become aware of your business. But now it is not enough to just build awareness, you must build relationships with your potential customers/clients before they will ever consider purchasing from you. Utilizing social media to market your business is the fastest and easiest way to build this relationship. But just because it is fast and easy does not mean you do not have to know what to do and what not to do. Here are the top 3 mistakes people make when using social media marketing that can destroy those relationships before they ever get started.

1. Leaving profiles incomplete
It is not enough to just sign up, enter a user name and start using the various social media platforms. To build your credibility and look more professional, you should complete your entire profile. You should also upload a professional looking image of YOU. Please do not put a cute picture of your dog or even just your business logo. People want to see who they are connecting with.

In order for them to get to know you and possibly build a relationship with you, your profile should be complete and consistent across all of the social media platforms you belong to. You should also claim your user names and set up a complete profile on other social media sites that you don’t plan to use as often. The benefits of doing this is to have a consistent online presence everywhere, prevent others from capitalizing on your user name and not to mention building a backlink to your site.

2. Selling without first building relationships

Yes, it is true that all these social media networks were made for social interaction, but they can still be used by businesses to sell their products and/or services. The important thing to remember is people only buy from those they know, like and trust. The biggest mistake you can make on these social networks is trying to sell right out the gate without building relationships first.You must add value to the conversation first. Give and you shall receive. Offer tips, advice, or information that you know will be of value to others. Answer questions that are being asked to display your expertise.

Help others promote themselves and their expertise by retweeting their tweets or sharing their posts with your community. On Facebook, post on their walls which will put them in front of your fans and friends. On Twitter, add a Follow Friday hashtag to recommend others as the person to follow. On Linked In, give recommendations of others to those in your network you think are a good fit. All of these things will increase your like and trust factor. It is only then do you begin to softly sell your products and/or services. People will not think twice about buying from you because you are now a trusted ‘friend”.

3. Spamming your connections

Just because someone has agreed to become your friend, fan or follower does not give you permission to add them to your email list. They have agreed to receive tweets and status updates from you and that’s it. If their email address is listed on their profile that is for contact purposes only and not bait for spammers. If you want to get your new connections on your email list, post a tweet or update offering them a free gift and inviting them to join your email list with a link to your opt-in page.

Or if your able to add an opt-in form directly to your social media profile, like your Facebook Page, then do so. Email marketing companies like aWeber can even integrate your ezine with your Facebook and twitter profiles. One other area to avoid using spam is the private emails available on the different social networks. Do not send a direct message or private message  trying to sell your products and/or services. This is the quickest way to be un-followed (is this a word?) or removed and blocked as a friend or fan.

Adding social media marketing to your overall online marketing plan is a must to build a successful online business. The various social media networks allow you to become known in your niche a lot faster. They also allow you to build up your credibility as an expert by giving you a medium to offer tips, advice and strategies to your target market. Your engagement with your target market on the various social media networks builds relationships and allows you to cultivate those relationships that will ultimately lead to your online business success.