5 Laws You’ve Got to Stop Breaking on Social Media

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5 Laws You've Got to Stop Breaking on Social Media

Sometimes you don’t have time to follow all the best practices of inbound marketing. Or maybe your boss or client is standing over your shoulder, giving you instructions, and you don’t have the power or strength to argue anymore.

In these situations, you can be forgiven for abandoning protocol. Just don’t forget the lines that should never, ever be crossed. There’s a big difference between tweeting a link to a helpful article without mentioning the author, for example, and making sure to only post links to pages that are about your brand.

5 Laws You've Got to Stop Breaking on Social Media

Yes, there are some social media transgressions that have the power to damage your efforts and actually lengthen the distance between where you are now and your marketing goals. These are the ones to watch out for.

Don’t Talk About Yourself Too Much

You are on social media to build awareness of your brand and steer the conversations around it, right? Many marketers think the best way to accomplish this is to post non-stop about their amazing product or service, with a few special deals thrown in, and wait for the sales to roll in.

This tactic won’t work, because, let’s face it, no one cares about you! What they care about is how you can help them solve their problems.

Talk about your audience and what they want. Then tell them how you fit into the picture, but always focusing on the benefits of using your products, rather than the specs and features. When you keep your prospective customers at the center of the conversation, they will have a reason to turn to you instead of the competition.

Be Helpful Instead of Sales-y

Yes, you want to sell your product, but people are not generally hanging out online in order to read ads. What they are looking for is content that captivates them, amuses them and makes them feel like they are in the inside of a cool, branded world. Customers have so many options online and offline, so you need to stand out from the competition.

When you are helpful to potential customers, they’ll form an emotional attachment to your brand and look for your products when the time comes that they are ready to buy.

Remember: Your “Audience” Consists of Real People

Audience is such an overused buzzword that it’s easy to forget that there are actually people behind these screens—people with real problems and needs.

Treat them like you would treat a customer walking into your office, store, or showroom. And just as you don’t try to target every single person who passes by, don’t try to market to the entire Internet at once. Instead, think about who your target audience is in the narrowest sense, and turn them into evangelists for your products.

Stop thinking of your audience in terms of demographics. Pinpoint exactly who your customer is, and market to that specific person, crafting messages intended for individuals. Build relationships with these individuals by hanging out where they hang out, and write content directed towards them and what they care about.

And if you’re using automation tools, make sure not to let them take over the conversation. People can tell the difference between robots engaging with them and people engaging with them.

Don’t Try to be Active on Too Many Channels

The blogs you read about online marketing often extol the virtues of various social media channels and make it seem like you must be active on every single one of them. It makes sense that you might be confused and take a headline like “Why Your Business Should Be on Instagram” too literally.

Of course, taking on too many social networks will cause a major time suck and not have the desired effect. Instead, choose a few channels which your audience frequents and put all your efforts into these and only these.

It’s important to remember that each social media site is a micro-universe of its own, with unique etiquette, community norms, and functionalities. Don’t just post the same exact content a million times on a million networks. Think about how to present your content on each network in a way that’s suited to how and why people use that network, this will make your audience more likely to respond.

Unreasonable Expectations and Incorrect Measurements

There’s probably someone whispering in your ear telling you should have some astronomically high number of followers on each of the social media channels you are active on (and possibly even on the ones you ignore). Not only is this unreasonable—it’s far from the best measurement of success.

What matters is not how many people clicked Like or Follow, or even how many shares a piece of content received. What’s really important is whether metrics like sales, awareness, support response times, or share of relevant conversation are on the rise. If social media efforts are making real impact, then that translates into an upswing in sales.

And some metrics are more helpful for informing the process of refining engagement tactics than they are helpful for proving your activity is helping business. Keep track of which types of posts strike a chord with your audience and what time of day is the best for posting to your followers.

You can set up tracking with a powerful, premium inbound tool suite like HubSpot, but free tools with narrower scope like Google Analytics and Buffer are also useful for tracking and measurement.

But please don’t forget that some ROI is simply not trackable—providing a positive customer experience and turning a disgruntled consumer into a brand evangelist is simply priceless.

Where Do You Draw the Line?

When it comes to social media engagement, some compromises simply won’t fly. Whether it is chasing after bad metrics, spreading yourself too thin, making it all about you, over-automating, or using hard sell tactics, there are plenty of “worst practices” that are way too rampant.

Think something important is missing from this list? Do you see brands posting in other ways that make steam come out of your ears? Leave a comment below!


Image Credits

Featured Image: albund via Shutterstock
Image #1: Angela Waye via Shutterstock

Ben Jacobson
Ben Jacobson serves as the co-director at Action Packed Media, a creative digital media marketing boutique and the operations director at Managed for Mimi, a subscription-based managed ghostwriting service for brand blogs and email newsletters.
Ben Jacobson
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  • http://www.itfreelancing.net Pankaj

    Hey Ben,

    Really great points for social media marketing. In social media marketing forget about marketing and start building relationships. Hear what your audience have to say and offer solutions accordingly. I also agree with you point to skip too many platforms instead focus on fewer one and concentrate there actively.

    • http://twitter.com/osbennn Ben Jacobson

      Thanks for your praise, Pankaj! I’m glad the ideas here resonated with your own values as a marketer.

  • My chatmeter

    There’s definitely no need to be on every social media platform there is. Businesses need to choose a select few to focus on because if you’re trying to be everywhere, chances are a few accounts will become neglected and that doesn’t look very good. For example, if a business has a lot of great photos to share, Pinterest would be a great platform to use. Businesses that deal with apparel, accessories, home furniture and the like should focus on Pinterest because a lot of women use it for inspiration. The next item in their closet or home could be from that business. A platform like Twitter on the other hand is great for delivering news. If a business is having a sale or you want to announce anything exciting, Twitter would be a good choice. It all depends on the type of business and what kind of content they want to share!

  • http://successcoach.chery-schmidt.ws/ Chery Schmidt

    Hello Ben, I do agree we do need to be focusing on the benefits of using our products and how they can help to change someones life ( Hopefull for the better LOL)

    People DO NOt like to be sold to HUH? I also like how you say they are REAL PEOPLE, so many times we forget about this one, but it is an important tip for sure..

    I do find that when I post during the day that my posts dont get as much attention as other times, so I do agree it is important to pay attention to the times that you do your posting.

    I loved this article, so worth sharing.. Thanks Chery :))

    P.S. I did land on your blog here today VIA Kingged

    • http://twitter.com/osbennn Ben Jacobson

      Thanks for your comments, Chery! Good point about the importance of post timing, too.

  • http://www.buzinga.com.au Logan Merrick

    Great points. It’s hard not to do a little self promotion in your website though. We’re always promoting our ebooks on our website (feel free to check it out) and on the rare occasion I’ll get feedback from someone saying that it’s ‘too promotey’. However…without that stuff there kind of would be no reason for the website…


    • http://twitter.com/osbennn Ben Jacobson (@osbennn)

      Totally agree, Logan. Promotion is totally cool, but it has to be executed with the right touch. Your audience members should always be at the center of the story you’re telling — not your brand or product. So in the case of promoting an ebook, you want to explain to your community members how the content of the ebook will make their lives better, how the tips in the ebook will solve their problems, etc. You follow?

  • Web Choice UK

    This is a real myth buster for me. I have read many blogs on social media marketing and their importance in boosting a brand. I was under the assumption that, the number of followers, shares and likes were the only considering factor. So, could you please tell me, is there any co relation between a brands popularity and these number of followers, shares and likes. If so, whats their importance?

    • http://twitter.com/osbennn Ben Jacobson (@osbennn)

      Good question. In my opinion, it all starts with your goals. When you know what you are trying to achieve on social media (brand awareness? establishing authority? being part of the conversation in your niche? customer support? reputation management? driving traffic? building community?), then the metrics that ought to matter to you will reveal themselves.

  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert/ Warren Whitlock

    You got the first law in the right place. “Don’t Talk About Yourself Too Much” … and the answer to the “how much is too much?” question is: If you are asking, you are talking about yourself too much. ūüôā

    • http://twitter.com/osbennn Ben Jacobson (@osbennn)

      Glad my thoughts here resonated for you, Warren!

  • Mary Gravitt

    Great Ben! ūüôā This gives a lot of information to all who may read it. Not too hard to understand. I’m looking forward for your next posts.

  • David Miller

    commenting on ” Don’t Try to be Active on Too Many Channels ” Does it really happen because now a days most of the customers comes from different channels instead of a single channel.