• Liz Nicholls

Social Media: Top 5 things businesses should STOP doing immediately


Social media is an integral communications channel for many businesses large and small. It allows you to broadcast to many quickly, and learn and respond to your audience. However, we still see that the basic rules of engagement aren’t being followed to the detriment of any social media marketing strategy. Here are some things to watch-out for:




1) Using generic hashtags


If you’re looking to increase engagement and grow your audience, using generic #hashtags won’t help you stand out from the crowd. Think about your objectives – do you want to boost search and findability, create conversations about your brand, and analyse the performance of your campaigns?


Research, Research, Research!

It’s important to understand which hashtags are complimentary to your content and relevant to your audience. Look for keywords that are specific to your niche, topic, campaign, locale etc. Copying your competition, or relying on the most popular hashtags does not give you greater visibility or help you gain targeted followers that will engage with your content. Tools such as Hashtagify.me, Ritetag and DisplayPurposesOnly (Instagram #) are great for finding and analysing possible hashtags for your posts.


Look across each social media platform that you use. A hashtag may not be popular on one platform, but could bring high levels of engagement on another. Indeed, the way hashtags are used on each social media platform is different. Research has found that on Instagram more than 11 hashtags on posts get the highest level of interaction (Buffer, Dec 2018). Conversely, using multiple hashtags on Facebook resulted in less engagement (Social Bakers, 2017).


Lastly, avoid using the same set of hashtags over and over again, as it can appear like spam and may affect the visibility of your post.


The more unique and relevant your hashtags, the greater the visibility and chance of engagement.

2) Promoting a product or sponsored relationship without transparency


It’s been widely reported that a number of influencers have been endorsing products without declaring that they are being paid or given a “freebie” in return for promotion. (See BBC News). Not only could this break consumer law, resulting in prosecution and fines, it can also damage your brand’s reputation and your audience’s trust.


As a brand, you are responsible for disclosing any sponsorships/promotions with a partner, and requesting that an influencer does this if they are promoting your brand. Make it obvious, prominent and appropriate for the channel. Using hashtags like #Ad, #Advert, #AdvertisementFeature are preferred, and place them at the beginning where your audience will see it first. This could be the title, thumbnail or image. See ASA / CMA for more detailed guidance.


Here’s one of my favourite influencers, Mother Pukka, doing it perfectly!


Some social media platforms, have built-in tools, such as Instagram’s paid-partnership tool or Facebook’s branded content tool, which make it clear that a post is an advertorial. Check them out!

3) Selling before engaging


Gone are the days of using social media purely as a platform for sales. Today, individuals’ feeds are awash with content, brands and personalities, so it’s more difficult to catch somebody’s attention and make them want to click or watch.


The key is to engage in conversation. Give your audience the opportunity to respond. By telling stories, sharing knowledge and expertise, or offering help, people will have a reason to follow you. High-quality, engaging content is necessary for strengthening your relationships with potential and existing customers.


#Lego, is just one example. This is their short Valentine-themed animation on Facebook. There’s no hard sell, just a cute little idea to get their audiences’ imagination going!



4) Ignoring comments and not interacting


Social media is intended for interaction - it’s a two-way street and not just for advertising your business or a PR tool for broadcasting all about you! Whilst there is a place for promotional posts, asking the opinion of your followers and listening to their views can feed into future business strategy. If your content is informative and thought-provoking your brand will be viewed more favourably.


Secondly, finding followers isn’t enough. Mentions, and sharing another’s article or post will help to forge relationships. If you share a blog post or link to content that someone else has created, tag them in (@theirsocialhandle). Similarly, if you’re mentioned in another’s post, re-tweet it or share it with your followers. This all helps to expand the reach of your brand.


Successful use of social media, is about creating mutually-beneficial relationships.

Increasingly, businesses are experiencing a rise in social customer service, with many people looking for swift answers or support. In a study by Sprout Social, they found that 29% of consumers are more likely to go to a competitor if they’re ignored on social! That’s potential revenue and an advocate lost if you ignore a comment. They also found that 21% of consumers would rather use a social media messaging service, than calling customer services (Social Media Statistics 2019, Sprout Social).

5) Hiding from your mistakes


Have a strategy for handling problems, criticism or a crisis. Be helpful in your response and where possible take the conversation to a private channel.


Firstly, don't panic! If you receive a negative comment, acknowledge it, ask the customer to call or email you and remain helpful and polite. Focus on what you can change and provide a solution. Set-out clear responsibilities in your plans - who manages responses, do senior people need to be involved and what are the guidelines for the responses to the various negative feedback scenarios.


Summary


When used well, social media will bring opportunities and insight. A business that creates a social media strategy based on research, quality content and a willingness to converse with their audience will enjoy more traffic, leads and conversions.



Does your social media strategy need a review? Does social media research feel like too much work? If you're a small business or start-up that's in need of some help, do get in touch to see how Olivine can help.

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