Six common social media errors that are simple to overcome

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Social media is a large and confusing world, and a lot of brands get a lot of things wrong. Here’s what not to do, and how to do it right.

In this day and age it’s imperative for brands to have a digital presence. And while most brands have made an effort to be “searchable” on social media, many of them still don’t take the platforms seriously, or perhaps they aren’t aware how to successfully start and maintain a social media strategy and presence.

Simply having a Facebook account, Twitter handle and Instagram account is not enough without a well thought out strategy with KPIs (key performance indicators) to drive your content.

Here are six common errors to pay attention to: 

1) You’re all over the show 

Understanding your target market and engagement preferences will assist you in determining where you need to have a presence. It isn’t necessary to be on every single platform for the sake of it – if your brand isn’t interactive and would serve no purpose on YouTube then rather stay away. If your target market is predominantly active on Facebook, there may be no need to be on LinkedIn for example.

Penquin’s Social Media Manager, Tokiso Molefe sums it up: “Don’t assume your audience is on all platforms. Just because a platform exists doesn’t mean you have to be there; a lot of brands stretch themselves too thin by trying to be everywhere.”

2) You’re not listening to your audience

The beauty of social media is that you’re exposed to analytics all the time. From when your audience consumes your data most frequently, to what time of day they engage in the platform and most importantly what they are saying about your brand. Similarly, you are also privy to what your non-fans and competitor audiences are saying.

The golden rule is to always listen first, digest and then act. What you may think your audience is interested in – whether it’s video content vs static imagery or gamification vs long form –  and what they actually want could differ vastly.

Use the information your audience so freely provides to manage and execute your social media strategies and communication.

3) You’re hanging around in the wrong crowds

If you are going to use an influencer strategy – using social media doyennes and celebrities – make sure that the influencer you are partnering with is a fit for your brand. So often brands hop onto an influencer bandwagon, forcing a square peg into a round hole, because the celebrities are popular and cool; though this doesn’t always translate. Using Boity for rugby, for example, won’t resonate very well with that particular crowd.

Audiences are not stupid and will quickly determine whether the influencer you are using is contrived or really just a publicity stunt. Find an influencer that has the same values as your brand, is popular on the platforms your audience frequents and above all, is a fit.

4) Hashtagging for days

It’s true, hashtagging generally gets more likes, comments, engagement in general. That is of course the purpose of the hashtag – to make your content “searchable”.

If you are hashtagging everything under the sun, from #JustinBieber to #MyBestLife and your brand has nothing to do with the singer or changing lives, your social media strategy needs serious help. Relying on popular hashtags for the traction and engagement you want means that you’re either not providing compelling content users want to engage with, or your message is communicated in the wrong place. Likewise, if you’re partnering with an influencer that deems it necessary to over-hashtag everything, chances are they aren’t the right fit.

By all means, use hashtags, but just make sure that it is relevant and working for your brand.

5) You copy and paste everything

If you’ve identified that your audience frequents more than one social media platform, that’s great. Just remember that the same person may be on Twitter and Facebook and really won’t want to see the same piece of content from you repeatedly.

Developing content that’s relevant for each platform is essential. Use Twitter for up-to-the-minute or breaking news pieces and Facebook for more inspirational, storytelling pieces that require a little more concentration. Posting the exact same content in exactly the same way across a plethora of platforms won’t increase engagement and wastes time. Share content relevant to the platform and for the audience.

6) Stay true to your brand

Tokiso advises clients to have a message and avoid the trap of people pleasing: “Don’t try to please everyone. Have a backbone and stick to what you want to say,” she says. Where authenticity is concerned she advises not to try too hard: if you’re not a funny brand, don’t try to be funny. Don’t jump into conversations that have nothing to do with you and finally, always be consistent.

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