By Luis Garcia
Before you even read this, make sure you aren’t making either of the classic, obvious, social media mistakes — having a private profile or still using a personal account when you should switch to a business account.
OK, cool. Now that that’s handled, let’s get into some of the less-obvious, yet highly critical mistakes that I see most brands make in their social media marketing efforts. Are you making these mistakes too?
1. Posting just to post
Social media is meant to be an ongoing and engaging conversation, so if you don’t have anything important to say — don’t say it! If you don’t feel inspired to share something — don’t share it. Period. Content that is forced usually feels fake and unauthentic. With the mass of content production happening right now, more and more social media users are becoming excellent B.S. detectors and have stronger filters than ever.
Plus, posting just to post does the opposite of what you hope it will do. A lot of people feel like they have to post constantly just to stay relevant. In reality, you tarnish your brand and dampen your engagement rates when you post low-quality content. If users are not engaging with your content, Instagram will stop showing your content to them.
Key takeaway: Be intentional with every piece of content you post and operate from a well-thought-out strategy. Plan your content ahead of time so you’re not having to rely on daily spurts of authentic inspiration to post. Create a content calendar and always ask yourself if you’d actually stop scrolling through your feed to watch/see/read what you’re about to post.
2. Rigidly sticking to your “agenda”
You could easily take the point I made above and go overboard. I’ve done this myself, and I see many people doing it now.
Are you one of those people who uses an inspirational quote on every third Instagram post so that there is a pretty, organized column of identical-looking tiles on your Instagram feed? Do you do this even though these types of posts don’t have the greatest engagement?
This is a perfect example of what I mean by going overboard with a social media marketing strategy. I’ve seen many people get so rigidly stuck to an idea they have that even if the results clearly show it’s not engaging to their audience, they still do it because they want to “stick to their plan.”
There are two reasons why this is a huge mistake. First, you are crippling your creativity. What if you get one of those hits of inspiration about something timely that you want to share but then realize, “oh wait, my next post has to be a quote so I have to wait to share this.” This takes from the magic of real-time sharing on social media, interrupts the creative flow and restricts your content distribution. Secondly, this means you aren’t paying attention to what actually matters — your audience! Make decisions based on your results, and always testing new and different ways to engage your audience so they get bored and fall off.
Key takeaway: Focus on what actually matters to your audience, not you. Test, measure, learn, repeat. Let go of your rigid agenda and give your people what they want.
3. Too much product promotion, not enough social media marketing
Going off of my previous point, it’s true that sometimes your audience doesn’t always know what they want — and they could totally want your product or service. However, you are going to completely turn them off if you’re constantly promoting and selling to them.
I really love the way Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this. He actually explains it perfectly in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The point is to focus on building a relationship with your audience first. Now, how do you build the relationship you ask? Just the same as you would build any relationship — by creating trust. SurveyMonkey reported last year that 68 percent of U.S. adults say trust in a brand has a “great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when making a big purchase.
There are two ways you can cultivate trust with your audience. First, let them in. Let them see the real, human parts of your brand. Be transparent and share your raw, authentic self with them. This will build a connection, and connection creates trust. Secondly, give first without expectation. Before you even think about asking anything of them, focus on what you can give to them and then give, give, give. A good gauging question of whether or not your creating value would be, would they pay for what I’m giving to them for free? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track, my friend.
Key takeaway: Your ratio of product promotion to value-driven content should be something like 1:4, so for every four pieces of entertaining, valuable content, you have one post promoting your product or service.
4. Lack of brand consistency
What is your unique brand essence? Does it shine through all of your content? Is there consistency in all of your content? If you want to build and sustain a powerful brand, you must focus on brand consistency.
Let me be clear. Consistency does not mean monotony. Don’t put out the same piece of content over and over. It’s still important to switch it up, maintain variety, and test different formats. At the same time, all of it should be consistent with your brand mission, tone of voice and overall look and feel — fonts, color palettes, etc.