We asked IBM Watson Marketing Manager, Jon Chang what he thought companies were doing wrong on social media and how they can fix it. You can see him at StartCon 2018.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to choose just one mistake, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few. The vast majority of companies are still terrible at social media, because they don’t have a growth mentality, think they need a big budget to do social well, or think they need a whole team to have an effective social program. And laziness – that’s prevalent among bad social media marketers – but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for now and assume they just don’t know better.
The tried-and-true successful strategy is simply the combination of always trying new things, actively engaging and listening to users, and diversifying content placements. These all, of course, are better and easier with more resources, but are absolutely achievable without loads of cash and social media employees.
Mistake #1: Metaphorically vomiting on the internet
The mistake that infuriates me most is when brands only publish “me me me” posts, especially when EVERY post includes an aggressive call-to-action like “sign up now”. This is what has been referred to as vomiting on the internet by reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian.
It’s gross and no one wants to be part of it. Just like any relationship in life, people need to be won over before they care about you. Listen to their wants and desires, create posts and content that address those wants and desires, open direct dialogues with those people about their wants and desires, and repeat until you’ve built a strong relationship with your audience.
Mistake #2: Sticking to one placement on each channel
The mistake that makes me the saddest to watch is when companies pour all of their resources into just once placement on each channel. I’m speaking primarily about newsfeeds and timelines.
To me, that’s like fishing in the most popular body of water in the world, where the competition and costs are the highest. Fine – go fish there, but then diversify your placements on Stories, Live, IGTV, et al. Not only will you be able to achieve better overall engagement results, but you’ll also have the exciting opportunity to engage new audiences with fresh content types.
Mistake #3: Never evolving
The mistake that makes me the most ashamed of social media marketers is the refusal to try new things. Social media is supposed to be the Wild Wild West of digital marketing, where new, exciting ideas and tactics are constantly discovered.
However, it’s too often that social media marketers degrade the practice by using the same tactics year-over-year, refusing to evolve with the times. Refusing to adapt and iterate is perhaps the biggest killer of businesses today, as seen by companies like Blockbuster, Borders, and Kodak. When you hear about a new social media feature or tactic, try it immediately. What are you waiting for?
For the sake of my personal happiness, please follow my social media advice. Your first step to success is staying up-to-date on the latest trends, tactics, and features.
The easiest and most enjoyable method is reading AdWeek and AdAge, where daily articles about social media use cases are published. Think of it this way: The biggest brands and agencies have direct relationships with the teams at each social media company, giving them expert guidance and beta feature access.
AdWeek and AdAge curate and publish the best examples. Study those use cases, then try repurposed variations for your own social media marketing.