If you are a business owner, your brand had better be on social media or you are missing out on one of the most affordable, effective, and loyalty-building tools out there. For the most part, entrepreneurs of all ages are in agreement that social media isn’t going anywhere and needs to be a priority. But where we start to see things differently is when you look at the different definitions of what good social media content is. We’ve seen it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. So we thought it would be a good idea to share some best practices in reverse.
Here are the top ten ways to suck at social media:
1) Post Inconsistently
If you are only posting to your Facebook page or Instagram account once every few weeks when something “big” is happening, your content is likely not being seen. Especially on Facebook, it is important to stay active on your page. The algorithm that is used to determine which posts and which ads appear in each person’s news feeds are heavily weighted by factors such as your page’s relevance and engagement. So if you’re not posting very often, you shouldn’t bother at all.
So how often should you be posting? That depends on which social platform you’re working with. On Facebook, we recommend posting 6-8 times per month and boosting each post for at least 3-5 days. Boosting works a bit like a snowball. You’ll see a few results right away, but if you let the boost run its course for several days, they will get better and better each day you leave it alone. On Instagram, you can post more frequently than that. And on Twitter, knock yourself out!
Did you know? 57% of consumers say that social media influences their shopping.
2) Post Low Quality Content
This is the social media travesty we see the most often. Someone posts a screenshot without cropping out the part of the screen that surrounds the image they wanted to save. Or they steal a stock image that still has the watermark on it. That is exactly what we said… stealing. Just don’t. One of our biggest pet peeves is posting low resolution images that end up look pixelated in the news feed.
Be sure to insist on high quality images that aren’t watermarked with anyone else’s brand, and write compelling captions with clear calls to action, such as “give us a call” or “caption this” or “tag a friend.”
Tip: Don’t get too wordy. Shorter posts get 23% more interaction.
3) Post the Same Stuff all the Time
If you work in an industry where you do the same types of work day in and day out, avoid posting the same types of content all the time. That might be what is readily available, but it’ll get old real quickly and your followers will quit engaging. For example, if you’re an electrician and you like to show off pictures of the job sites you’re working at, do it! But instead of the same standard photo from 4 feet away, experiment with different angles and photo filters when you do post a photo. But between those posts, mix in a funny meme or a customer testimonial. Or even better, post a good quality video. Videos get the highest engagement rate on Facebook, despite making up only 3% of the content posted there.
Shake it up, and get creative with content that makes people want to react or comment. Those are the best ways to get Facebook to show your content to people in their news feeds.
Tip: Posts that ask questions with ‘should’, ‘would,’ or ‘who’ get 100% more comments.
4) Avoid Humor Because You’re Worried About Offending Someone
Hopefully, you’ve seen the creative genius behind the Wendy’s and Burger King social media accounts? If not, go look them up immediately. They have built a massive following by purposely offending people. They “roast” the other brands they compete with in a playful, bantering sort of way and It. Is. Hilarious. Check out Wendy's twitter account.
Are we recommending you start heckling your followers? No. But our point is that people on social media live for things that make them laugh. For example, if you install air conditioners, make a graphic that says “Your Wife is HOT!” Not only will it grab their attention, it’ll make them laugh which might earn you a share or a tag and increase your reach. Worry less about what might offend someone and more about who might appreciate it and remember it later.
Tip: Use emoji’s here and there! Posts with emoticons get 33% more comments.
5) Post “Canned” Content or Links to External Sites
Some industries have pre-made content available to automatically post to your company page for a small fee per month. The only one winning in that scenario is the company selling you that content. Yes it’s cheap. But you get what you pay for. Facebook can tell it was automated content and will penalize you for it.
The other types of posts that Facebook will weight poorly in the news feed are links to external websites. Facebook wants you to stay in their news feed scrolling and scrolling (until the end of time) so anything with a link elsewhere will not perform well.
6) Underestimate the Power of Your People
If you’ve got employees, be sure to incorporate them into your social media. Specifically their faces. Tag them. Ask them to share it with their families. This is a great way to recognize your employees, to brag about them, and to celebrate their successes. Chances are, their mom and their grandma will share it and comment on it, which gets the engagement ball rolling in the right direction.
Tip: Featuring an employee or recognizing birthdays are good excuses to put them on your page.
7) Contests - Doing Too Many or Not Doing Any at All
This probably won’t surprise you, but 45% of followers say they like a brand to get special offers or discounts. People like to be in the know, but even more than that they like to get free stuff. Contests are a popular (and effective) way to get new followers and increase your reach in the news feed. So if you’re not doing them, you are shooting yourself in the foot. However, we’ve seen companies completely overdo it with giveaways and contests. People will eventually lose interest when the sense of urgency to enter the contest wanes. It’s like JC Penney’s “one day only sales” that happen every day of the year. You eventually stop listening.
Our advice? Incorporate contests into your strategy once or twice per year, but do them right. Offer a large enough prize that people feel compelled to participate. And prizes catered to women and children will always do the best.
Tip: Instead of saying “Win $500 cash” say “Win a Trip to Las Vegas.” How you frame the contest prize can make a big difference in how likely people are to respond.
8) Don’t Boost Your Posts
We mentioned the Facebook algorithm, and this is the part of this article where we remind you that you HAVE to pay to play. When Facebook pages first came out, they gave you great results for free. And slowly they have throttled back those results and offered you the opportunity to pay them to achieve those same objectives. Without getting into a complicated formula, a good rule of thumb is that organic content (posts that aren’t boosted) will not be shown to very many people in their news feeds.
Boosting your posts is not negotiable if you are using social media to attract new customers. The good news is, boosting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Even though there is definitely a cost associated, you can spend as little as $5 per day to reach your audience depending on who you are targeting and where you live.
9) Give Up After a Short Period of Time
Social media isn’t a marketing strategy designed to get your phone ringing the same day. Posting to your pages and running digital ads on social media CAN (and most likely WILL) get you some results right away if they are done well. But don’t give up if you don’t figure it all out right away. And don’t give up when you get busy. Social media needs to be a priority, with your main objectives being to build loyalty and stay top of mind.
Tip: It can take up to 6 months before you can truly gauge the success of an increased social media presence.
10) Delegate Your Social Media to the Wrong Person
No, this isn’t a pitch to earn your business. But it IS hopefully a wake up call. Your social media shouldn’t just be an afterthought that gets tossed around between members of your staff without a plan in place. Your presence on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever other platforms you utilize can either build your brand following or drag you down online. Make sure the person(s) in charge of posting to your social media have a plan in place and a good eye for design.
And of course, we are strong believers that no one can accurately juggle an effective social media presence with their full time job of greeting your customers, providing exceptional services, and communicating internally with the other members of your team. Since you can’t delegate your customer experience to someone else, social media and your other marketing objectives are so much easier to delegate to an expert!
Tip: People can recall a piece of mobile content consumed for only .25 seconds. What is your content saying to your potential customers?