While there are many success stories of people using social media for personal and business reasons, there are also plenty of people who may feel their efforts are not paying off.
Whether you use social media to market your business, increase sales, promote your blog, or raise awareness for a non-profit organization, here are six reasons social media might not be working for you—along with ways to overcome these problems.
Mistake #1: You Have the Wrong Connections
Imagine that you are asked to do a seminar about the future of Microsoft Office (with the opportunity to sell some Microsoft training courses). You're provided two options. You can have a large auditorium full of over 10,000 people or a smaller one with only about 500 people. Assuming you have no fear of public speaking, you probably want the large auditorium because it would hold a huge amount of sales opportunities, right?
But what if you learned that the large auditorium is full of users who are mostly students and artists, and the smaller one is full of business owners who depend on Microsoft Office. Now where do you see the greatest amount of sales opportunities?
This happens a lot in social media. We connect with tons of people on particular networks, get super-excited when we get a huge number of friends and followers, send out an announcement, and wonder why there is very little response. It's not the number of people you are connected to that makes the difference, but the number of people interested in your niche that you are connected to.
Whenever you are seeking new connections on social networking sites, make sure to look for relevant connections in your niche or industry. There are many ways to find people who will be interested in what you have to say, including:
- Use Twitter directories, such as Twellow, that search for members based on their profile description so you can boost your Twitter following with targeted followers.
- Look at followers of another person in your industry to find some who would also be interested in you.
- Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Then participate and connect with other members.
- Find blogs on related topics. (Bloggers usually share their social profile links in their sidebar, header, footer, or about/contact pages.)
- Join forums on related topics—look for threads that allow members to share their social networking profiles with the rest of the forum. While participating, also look for members' social links in their forum signatures.
There are also some don't-miss guides here on Social Media Examiner, including how to increase your Facebook fan base.
Mistake #2: You Hide Your Social Media Presence
OK, so you might not think you're hiding your social media presence, but you may be inadvertently doing so by not publicizing it. Simple ways to promote your social networking profiles include:
Social Links on Your Website
The first and most important place you should have your social media links displayed is on your website. Everyone who is active on social media, from corporations to freelancers to bloggers, should make it easy for visitors to their website to connect with them on their top social networking profiles.
Social Links in Your Emails
Chances are, you already have lots of people you email on a regular basis, either directly or through mailing lists. Why not add your social profile links to these emails and let recipients know where they can find you online? This can be done with simple text links below your signature, or with plugins such as WiseStamp, which will allow you to design a beautiful signature with social media icons, links, and even a link to your latest blog post powered by RSS.
Social Links on Your Business Cards
On your business card, you include (or at least you should include) your website address, email, and phone number as ways for your contacts to connect with you. Why not also add your LinkedIn, Twitter, or other professional profiles as well?
Do you actively participate in a forum for your area of expertise? As mentioned earlier, why not include your main social networking profile links along with your website in your forum signature? This way, if someone reads your response to a particular thread and finds it informative, they may connect with you on social media to learn more from you.
Mistake #3: You Send the Wrong Message
Let's say I've just found your portfolio online while searching for a web designer, and I want to hop over to your Twitter profile to learn a bit more about you. So I visit your Twitter profile to follow you, and out of your latest 20 updates, I see the following:
- 5 updates from Foursquare that you are at Starbucks, work, McDonald's, the courthouse, and L.A. Fitness.
- 7 replies to other Twitter members, obviously in the middle of a random conversation.
- 2 updates with some form of crude, foul language.
- 3 Twitpics of the last dessert you had, the weather outside, and a funny sign on a street corner.
Now if this was someone's personal Twitter profile set up to connect with friends and family, these kinds of updates would be perfectly acceptable. But if you're linking your Twitter profile with your business or blog on a specific subject, then your updates should stick to the same topic lines of your website, as people who are going from one to the other will likely be doing so to learn more about you in relation to the theme of those sites.
So taking the above example again, this freelancer could go with:
- 5 updates from FourSquare relating to a purchase for their work; for instance, you are at Best Buy buying a drawing tablet to use for a Photoshop design layout.
- 7 replies to other Twitter members answering questions about web design or giving helpful tips.
- 2 updates that relate to the industry in a humorous light, like a link to an Oatmeal comic on How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.
- 3 Twitpics of your workstation, your library collection of web design books, and your newest business card.
How do you find people to reply to about your industry?
HootSuite allows you to set up multiple columns for keyword searches and Twitter lists so you can always see what is being talked about and be able to give a timely reply.
Also, think of the search engine optimization value that can be gained from having keywords in your updates on your social media profiles. Having updates with web design–related keywords certainly won't hurt your profile, especially now that social search is becoming more prevalent in Google search results.
Mistake #4: You use Social Media Profiles for Link-building
It's one thing to create social media profiles on sites that are relevant to your industry and that you want to use. But it's a whole other thing to create them just to get a backlink to your website with no intention of going any further. There are better and more effective methods of link-building and other strategies to increase your Google ranking.
Some services out there will reserve your name on social media sites, which can be good for branding and reputation management. You certainly don't want someone to sign up pretending to be you on a network. But you can't assume that once you have over 100 social media accounts, they will automatically start benefiting you. You have to go out and use them by getting social before you see any results from social media.
Mistake #5: You Only Do Things that Can be Measured for Return on Investment
Ah, the elusive ROI. Some say it is a myth. Some say social media marketing can be measured, some say that it shouldn't be measured, and some say it cannot be measured.
No matter where you sit on the fence of ROI, one thing you have to remember is that the best things you can do for your business on social media will not necessarily create a measurable impact on your bottom line.
Sure, you can spend all day on your social media profiles and only send out coupons with specific tracking codes or leading to landing pages that will tell you which profile is bringing you the most conversions. But then you will miss out on valuable ways of communicating with your fans, such as providing good customer service, managing crises, and otherwise engaging with them to create more loyalty to your brand.
Mistake #6: You Follow Too Many “Rules” of Social Media
There are many experts who suggest that you follow specific guidelines in how you use social media. While there are some things that should not be done (such as running a constant stream of advertising), there are some social media rules that may not apply to followers in your niche or industry.
The best way to see what works is to follow those who are successful utilizing social media specializing in the same subject area as you and analyze what they do. Do they reply to their followers/fans often? Do they share blog posts? Do they share industry news? How do they personalize their profiles, backgrounds, etc.?
How do you know if someone is successful in social media? It's not the number of followers they have, but the amount of interactivity they have with them. If you do a Twitter search for @theirusername and see lots of conversation directed at them or retweets of their updates, then that's a sign they are successfully influencing their followers. If on Facebook you see that their wall posts get a lot of comments, that is another sign of their success in engaging with their followers.
Is Social Media Working for You?
Do you believe social media is working for you? What do you think can help improve the success rate of individuals or businesses using social media in terms of creating a better overall social media presence? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below…
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