5 Ways to Improve Social Media Marketing
A study published by Sprout Social, a social media management company, noted changes in how people view social media advertising. Yes, all that “fake news” and real news about users’ personal information being leaked, stolen or sold to third parties has made a difference in the habits of social media users.
Social media is likely to survive negative media attention, but the pain involved is symptomatic that something is wrong and needs fixing. Perhaps the actions of some of the social media companies need more oversight worldwide by governments? Based on the Sprout study which compiled their report to include only social media ads—and adding my own opinions based on decades of marketing experience, here are 5 common problems and fixes for social media marketing:
- Negative Perceptions: The Sprout Social study found that 27% of social media users now view ads more negatively and a lack of trust in social ads was noted. The internet itself is still considered untrustworthy by many. According to statista.com, there is a large segment of the U.S. population that does not have a social media profile (19%) and the number is likely higher in Canada. Your marketing won’t reach them, or the other people who may have a profile but don’t actually use the platform and haven’t for years due to previous security concerns. Lack of trust is poison to your brand marketing efforts and can negatively affect sales.
Facebook’s assertion that they must charge a member a fee for “opting-out” of having their privacy sold to third parties leaves one questioning not just the security of using some social media platforms, but also the values and motivations of the companies controlling the internet. In my opinion, Facebook’s statement penalizes the victim, and is at best extremely poor marketing on their part as this gives the message that users will be required to pay for security breaches at Facebook while not being the source of the problem.
News from Facebook about “accidentally” sharing members’ private information to the Trump presidential campaign via Cambridge Analytica, and reports from other internet companies selling users’ private data or leaving them vulnerable to security attacks has sobered up social media users. Any negativity in marketing will reduce sales success.
The Fix: Beware of potentially negative biases in your marketing, be inclusive, and ensure your staff is trained to be respectful to all clients to avoid offense and to leave a customer feeling positive and valued by your company.
- You May Be Doing It Wrong: Sprout noted in their study that the most popular features social media users liked in ads were entertaining content (41%) and discounts (37%). When I view the social media of some businesses I still see less than stellar photos and posts that are geared to the business owners’ personal interests and not enough about the followers’ interests. Uninteresting content (31%) and irrelevance (26%) also led users to ignore and avoid the ad the study noted.
The Fix: Survey your followers and learn what their interests are so you can create affordable marketing that is interesting and relevant to them. Make your social media marketing, and really all your marketing entertaining and strive for positive messages always. Entertain, engage, be relevant and interesting to interact with clients and leave them feeling good about their experience with you.
- Lack of Engagement: What’s that you say? You are engaging your demographic by using or advertising in social media? Are you really? Just posting and reposting cutesy pics and viral whatever isn’t interactive and isn’t advertising. If your advertising is not professionally created it is unlikely to be attractive. Commenting exchanges may be complimentary and interactive but compliments from users are one thing; getting them to buy something is a better compliment and should be your focus.
Responding to negative comments is best taken offline via positive and quick customer service to address the concern. If you prefer to ignore negative comments go back to #1. Each social media communication provides an opportunity for you to positively engage your customer.
As noted above, 37% or more than 1/3 of users responded to discounts showing that aligning your business with a tie-in to a sale using social or digital media actually works and can improve sales. Just be willing to offer an online discount or exclusive sale price to seal the deal. Another good way to engage customers is to create a digital e-newsletter with articles and information links that take subscribers back to your social media and/or corporate pages and may cost far less annually than buying ads yet achieve equal or better results.
The Fix: Interact with your client base in as many ways possible to “keep the conversation going” as each exchange can give you an opportunity to deliver another marketing message. Utilize promotions, discounts, loyalty programs, and more in tandem with social media. Remain aware of your competitors’ marketing programs and compare to your own. Where can yours be improved? Content is still king in marketing and leads to greater engagement with your buying clientele so think about what kind of content would interest them for positive engagement.
- Lack of Demographic Reach: Even with Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al tracking every click one makes on a wired device, their ability to match your interests to an appropriate ad is still hit and miss. Admittedly, other forms of marketing may not have a full demographic reach either but the ability to instantly engage with your demographic via social media is golden, and better attention to targeting the largest demographic possible can give the best ROI. Engagement combined with a positive message to your demographic will improve response to your marketing efforts. Social media reach is best when used with another vehicle for interaction and may interest a large portion of your total demographics.
If I had a dollar every time a potential client, in an effort to be rid of me told me they don’t need advertising or marketing because “word of mouth is my best advertising” I would be as rich as Bill Gates. My counter to that objection these days is ‘Social media is today’s word-of-mouth advertising so how are you engaging your social media audience?’ There are many businesses that may not benefit directly from social media but all businesses need to reach their demographics and social media enlarges that reach considerably and at a very low cost compared to other methods.
The Fix: Utilize all social media platforms appropriate to your business and get professional help if needed. Apps, newsletters, free online information and services, payment options, after sales promos and more can all be used with social media to “start or continue the conversation”, reach a larger demographic, and could lead to improved sales, while providing a better, more reliable direct interaction with your customers.
- Weariness: The top reason for the drop of interest in social media cited by 58% of respondents to Sprout Social’s study was simply seeing too many social media ads overall. We can blame that on the greed of the platforms primarily; more ads per page equals more revenue for them. Like anything else that becomes over-commercialized the consumer masses will look for something else to get excited about to keep ahead of the Joneses. Media reports of how in-depth the invasion of privacy is when using social media, and the political fallout of fake news and a multitude of ads contributed to 39% of the study respondents losing interest.
Aside from how none of us like to wade through too many ads to find what we want, there is also another kind of advertising weariness to avoid.
You know how from time-to-time you leave a box of something right by the door because you’re going to put it somewhere. A day or three goes by and you keep mentally reminding yourself to move that box. A week or more goes by and now you don’t even see that box that needs moving anymore do you? You’ve become eye-blind to it, until your spouse, family or roommate gets after you. That effect is due to your expedient brain choosing to have you ignore that box over time; it becomes part of the landscape. That happens with marketing too; old marketing is ignored by consumers when it is dated. Remember to keep it fresh like fruits and vegetables. Nobody buys stale produce or stale marketing.
The Fix: Consistency in your brand and marketing message goes far, but changing up the mix or look from time-to-time will freshen-up marketing and help you avoid social, digital and all marketing media that looks tired, old and weary.
Trust is extremely important in marketing and must be maintained or regained by any business that lost the trust of their customer base for any reason. A negative view of your company is deadly to sales growth. Your social media and other communications need to project a positive viewpoint. Unless you’re a Hollywood celebrity or politician elected because of your faults (we’re not naming names!) you can’t afford the “bad” publicity.
In spite of the recent news about social media that has been disillusioning to many, social and digital marketing still provide a good vehicle for marketing and they are here to stay. Like any other marketing however, it’s important to choose what’s best for you, do it right in the first place, and tie it in with your other marketing; your print materials, corporate web site, broadcast media, advertising, after-sale marketing and events. All methods should work with and support the other for best results.
Rob Shaw Media provides content marketing, design, print and promotional marketing solutions that includes social media. Click here to learn more.
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