Social media presence has become integral for brands, irrespective of their size or industry. Whether is a new age company that just started out, or a traditional brand that is an industry pioneer, companies have realised that social media is an ‘essential’ in their overall marketing/communications strategy.
Social media presence has numerous benefits
A well-planned social media strategy can help brands increase awareness, drive engagement, ensure improved access for the customers, lead and influence conversations, as well as generate business. Companies are realising that the days of just creating a page and not posting relevant content are over. They need to not only be present, but also have a content strategy in place so as to ensure that the brand’s social media pages have relevant and consumable content.
In this article, I am going to touch upon some of the mistakes that one should avoid, when it comes to social media strategy.
While it is understandable that social media is more about now, and posting instantaneously, it is important not to take that as a ground rule when devising social media strategy or running the social media channels of companies. A social media post on a brand’s page should not be a rushed job.
It is recommended to have a quarterly or a monthly social media strategy in place, in line with the business goals. This will ensure that the messaging is consistent and impactful. A social media content calendar should be planned in advance, keeping in mind the nuances of the specific audiences of each platform.
Putting social media on autopilot
While the social media team can plan the posts in advance and use tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule them, it is important to remember that social media needs to be constantly monitored by the team to ensure that anything urgent is addressed in the appropriate manner. Also, it is recommended that some of the posts are topical and in accordance with the key trends in the community.
Automated responses for customer grievances on social media might not work, as different customers have different challenges. It is advisable to logically evaluate if a specific automated response does fit in in a specific scenario. Additionally, brands should try to add a human touch to conversations so as to engage, delight and entertain their audience.
The social media posts should not be about the brand trying to really push its products, as this can result in the audience disconnecting itself from the brand.
Instead, social media content needs to be relevant and engaging for the target audience that it caters to. The content could address customers’ pain points, share an interesting business trend, or share tips that could be relevant for the audience. This could be bundled with a subtle sales pitch (link to the website/ contact number to place the order) so as to get customers to visit the brand’s website.
Even on channels like Instagram, brands should leverage the network of influencers and/or collaborations with brands, to smartly propagate about their products and encourage customers to buy them.
Treating all social media platforms the same
This is one of the most common problems with social media strategies of brands. The posts across channels, in a lot of cases, are the same and as a result, all brand pages across social media platforms look like an exact replica of each other. This is an ineffective and counter-productive strategy.
Brands need to understand that the customer set across different social media channels varies. To give an idea, while Facebook has users across age groups including those above 65 years of age, it is popular medium for Millennials. In India, Facebook is very popular in the tier-2/3/4 towns and cities. Even a low-income group person generally has an account on Facebook. If you look at Instagram, over 70% of its user base is under 35 years of age. Also, Instagram is more popular among females. LinkedIn’s user base is mostly in the range of 30-64 years and mostly includes middle and senior level professionals.
The brand’s social media strategy has to be different for various channels and posts need to be customised if the brands want to make an impact on social media. If certain posts are not relevant for a set of audience, it is best to give them a skip for that specific platform.
Brands should be honest and transparent and not post misleading content on social media. For example, if a brand tries to hide facts and post incorrect information around its supply chain inefficiencies, bad customer experience, a senior level exit, layoffs or any other similar issue, it should keep in mind that the real facts may come out in the open at any given point in time. Transparency is the key.
Letting employees share what they feel like about the brand
While the employees can be brand advocates, but a strange, crazy post by an employee tagging the brand, or a post by a disgruntled employee can be extremely detrimental for the brand. Taking the example of Domino’s where an employee had shared a crazy video doing bizarre things with food/ ingredients of pizza. The video went viral, having a huge negative impact on brand credibility, and Domino’s had to release a video with its CEO apologising about the video and reassuring that all hygiene and safety measures are in place and utmost care is taken when making pizzas. It is therefore, important for the brands to devise the social media policy and encourage employees to post in a responsible manner.
A number of times it has been noted that either the brands ignore negative stories or comments, or choose not to respond to them. While it is okay to not respond to all kinds of conversations but if there is something that is raising a lot of eyebrows and driving numerous conversations, it is not a good idea to stay silent. Instead the company should share a response or put across its point of view on important matters when there is a wave of negative conversations on a topic that could be important for the brand credibility. Likewise, a negative media report on social media should be responded to, if it is factually incorrect or can be damaging to the brand’s reputation at large.
Making it all about you
Brands who use social media to push information about themselves, their latest growth in a specific market, their new products, how their products are faring, their news, etc. etc., are actually doing it all wrong. No one wants to visit a brand’s page that and see posts of self-appreciation. People feel connected to brands that speak their language, and share content that is relevant as well as relatable for the consumers. It needs to be about them!
Not engaging in conversations
Brands generally post content on social media that is not engaging enough. The posts, hence, do not lead to any comments or conversations with mostly some of the employees of the company only ending up liking them. Brands should post impactful content that is a mix of brand related content, blogs, videos, impactful stories, contests, amongst others to ensure that the audience finds it interesting and engaging. This is because impactful and engaging content helps drive clicks, shares, comments and mentions, thereby increasing engagement and enhancing the chances of conversions.
Ignoring analytics and results
Social media teams tend to ignore analytics and trends. Instead, they continue to post the same content, that they find convenient or assume will do the job for them. As a result, the possible impact is below par as the brands are unaware of the metrics that is faring well with their audience and keep hitting in the dark. This may also result in the engagement levels reducing over a period of time, as the customers hit a saturation point with respect to the same type of content.
To sum it up, social media is a very important tool for brands but they need to have a robust social media strategy in place that is well thought out, and is devised keeping in mind the specific nuances of different social media channels. Also, brands should always be in ‘listening mode’ and keep track of the conversations around them on social media so as to avoid any damage to brand reputation that may happen due to a negative report or negative conversation/s. Lastly, brands should be ready to evolve with the changing ways of social media and ensure that they continue to be ‘human’ at all times.
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