Social media gurus share the worst mistakes companies can make

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No matter how old or young your company is, it is no longer an option to have a social media presence. As one of the most effective ways to attract customers, clients and partnerships, digital platforms provide a way to start conversations, participate in them, and also demonstrate your expertise or ethos.

Considering this sector of marketing changes constantly, it can be difficult to stay on top of best practices for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms. However, generally speaking, there are a few mistakes even smart leaders make when thinking about their social media branding. Luckily, these gurus have the expertise to steer you away from these blunders that could cost followers, traffic, engagement and more:

Joining a conversation three days after it was relevant.

Oliver Yonchev is the U.S. managing director for The Social Chain, an integrated social media company who has worked with Amazon, DreamWorks, and Disney, to name a few. When he thinks of social media, he describes it best as a reactive media that requires active, consistent attention. Even well-meaning brands who want to become a cultural pulse miss the mark if they don’t react quickly enough.

Some of this backlog is found in the creative process: If nothing can be signed off on within a few hours, the moment has passed. His best advice? Have trust in your hires and know they can lead the social media strategy without ten executives giving their stamp of approval.

In other words: An experienced leader will know when it’s time to speak up and when it is better to lay low.

“Its important brands are self-aware and understand the framework in which they should and, more importantly, shouldn’t speak. They need to ensure that anyone working on an account has a deep understanding of their tone of voice, and then it’s time to trust those people,” he continues. “The reality is; social content rarely lives for long so don’t over-curate- simply create.”

No consistency

Before you focus your hiring efforts on any other part of the business, it’s essential to have a social media expert in your court. As Emily Taffel, the owner and CEO of Mugsy shares, many companies will post here-and-there or for a solid month, and then fall off the face of the internet. Without consistency or a reliable schedule, you will lose traction fast.

“People are more likely to make purchases or build trust with a company that has an active and engaged social media presence,” she explains. “We tell clients they don’t have to be on every platform, just a consistent presence on the one that performs best for them.”

Using third-party software to post on each platform

Though it’s helpful to use third-party software to schedule posts, you won’t reap the biggest benefits from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn if you choose to invest off of their platform. As founder of the Talaria Agency, Shannon Self shares, social media companies make money from advertising dollars and if you aren’t working directly with them, they can roof your content.

“The more organic eyes on the platform mean the more they charge for ads. They want you to organically post on their platform,” she explains. “If you’re using a third-party app to post, try signing on to each platform and post instead. If you do that, the number of likes and comments you get will be considerably more than usual.”

Not being a ‘self-aware’ brand

Think about your reputation amongst friends: are you the funny, life-of-the-party pal? The person everyone can count on for quality advice and guidance? Or perhaps, the jet-setter who everyone tries to see when they can? Everyone has their own brand — both in their personal life and their professional one — and companies are no different.

Before you develop your social media approach, it’s essential to know how they are perceived by the public, according to Yonchev. This can save a lot from a lot of headaches if fans who follow you feel like you make a move that doesn’t make sense or even worse, is offensive.

“Time and time again brands have a delusional perception of themselves. In social media, brands are held accountable at all times, which is a good thing, as the creative, the honest, the authentic and the self-aware will win,” he explains.

One rule to follow is super-simple (and perhaps, a bit obvious): Don’t post for the sake of posting. Similar to the good manners your mom taught you: If you don’t have anything to say that has meaning or speaks to your corporate ethos, it’s better to sit some conversations out.

“Brands and agencies put too much pressure to post a set number of times per day because there is an illusion that these arbitrary numbers will favor them algorithmically,” he continues. “Saying nothing is far better than saying the wrong thing.”

Only posting content that has an agenda

Most companies have tangible, real goals from their marketing efforts. And since social media can sometimes be a pricey endeavor, there are often a lot of eyeballs on the dollars being spent. Though it’s important to not post frivolously, Self stresses the importance of having a variety of engagements. If every single photo or text you share has an agenda, your followers will grow weary on being sold all the time. “Non-agenda-driven content will help build a loyal audience faster. Make sure to post content that is currently happening and has a lot of buzz behind it,” she continues. “Your audience will find you relevant.”

Producing content with no consideration of the environment

Sure, on your own Instagram, you may connect Facebook and post away. When you aren’t attempting to build followers or truly develop an audience, this is a fine approach. But if you really want to invest in a social media strategy, Yonchev says you have to approach each channel — from Facebook to LinkedIn — differently. He says often, brands take creatives from their photoshoots and television ads to use for their social media posts, and it doesn’t quite work.

“You have to consider the environment in which your creative is being viewed. Social media is not one thing, it’s many things, and each platform has its own nuances,” he explains. “You have to produce content that is through the ’social first’ lens.”

So how can you do that? Switch from being in the business chair and think about how you interact as a consumer. What do you pay attention to? What stops you in your tracks? What looks wonky — and weird?

“With the creative itself, consider the mindset the person viewing it is in. I’m in a very different mindset on Facebook than I am on YouTube, where I usually have more time, or on Pinterest, when I’m looking for inspiration,” Yonchev continues. “Remember: your story or message can and should stay the same, but the way you tell it on different platforms has to be different.”

Working with an influencer and dictating their creative

Yonchev says these days, influencer marketing is now a cornerstone for most marketer’s toolkits. Even so, there are some poor habits that have fundamentally impacted the industry. One of the biggest misses, he shares, is when a brand wants to completely control the influencer’s creative, which discounts the value of the post or the activation.

“It leads to poor, ingenuine execution, that the audience of the influencer will reject. This is bad for the brand, and certainly for the influencer,” he notes.

Instead? Conduct diligent research so you only work with those influencers who really match what your brand stands for — and allow their genius to lead the project.

Thinking that it ends at a post

Great, you scheduled a week’s worth of posts and you have someone on call to react to anything newsworthy or interesting for your brand. Job’s done, right? Wrong, according to Taffel. In fact, at this point, you’ve only completed one step in your strategy.

Now, you have to figure out community management and engagement, which means responding to comments, interacting with other brands, and much, much more.

“Hashtag tracking, commenting on clients/customers pages — both current and potential — posts, sharing relevant content and being social on social media is the key to truly making the most of the platforms for your business.”