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Published August 26th 2014

Two Social Media Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make

We all share a common objective: we want to generate bottom-line value and show ROI. Even if you are, you may be making social media mistakes that underc...

We all share a common objective in our use of social media: we want to generate real, tangible, bottom-line value for our business or organization. The challenge, of course, is that it can be really hard to create value and show ROI. After all, it’s not like we’re selling toasters online.

But even if you are, you may be making a pair of social media mistakes that undercut the value you create.

There’s a joke that I heard a couple years ago. It’s not funny, but it resonated with me, partly because I know it happens.

“How do you know your CIO is trying to tank your social media effort? … When she asks to see ROI.”

The point is that proving the value of communication efforts can make or break the level of resources at your disposal. The irony is that it’s this need to prove a return on investment that often acts to undercut the amount of value you actually can create; it’s the driver for the first devastating social media mistake you’re probably making right now.

Mistake #1: Focusing on lead generation (over engagement)

When was the last time you went to Twitter because you wanted to buy something?

Sure, social media can be a powerful way to generate leads, but prematurely trying to send people down your funnel destroys credibility.

How to sell toasters at a party

If you were a toaster saleswoman at a party, would you walk up to a random group of people and jump into the conversation with, “Come to my toaster store. We’re having a sale!” Ridiculous, right? Instead, you would want to steer the conversation toward a debate over which is best: butter, jam or Nutella. (It’s Nutella, obviously. But that’s not the point.)

image 1


How sharable is this Food Bible tweet?

In order to get party goers into a toaster store, you would need to develop two things:

  1. A relationship that isn’t immediately predicated on selling
  2. A desire for whatever it is that you are selling

In this case, make them long for toast by getting them to talk about how their favorite spread fills the crevasses of a fresh slice of still warm toast, just before melting away into their taste buds.

What are you doing to making your fans salivate?

  1. Craft posts so the call to action encourages people to like, comment or share.
  2. Reply when people talk about you.
  3. Limits “sales posts” to a minority stake of your content ratio.
  4. Monitor for social media buy signals to hyper target individuals as potential leads.
  5. Leverage remarketing on social platforms like Facebook to make sure sales language only shows up for those who have already entered your funnel.
  6. Develop Twitter referrals that decision makers can’t refuse. (There’s actually a dead-simple way to do this. Here’s my cheat sheet.)

Mistake #2: Writing for potential customers (instead of influencers)

The second common social media mistake I see people make is that they target potential customers. I can hear you now: “What? How is that a mistake?!!!”

Just hear me out. I’m not off my rocker.

The truth of the matter is that writing for potential customers is less effective than writing for those who may influence them.

It may seem like a very minor distinction, but the difference can be immense when it plays out in your content. And it turns out that social platforms are the ideal place to unleash your word of mouth strategy.

  1. Enable fans by giving them an opportunity to engage with the brand. (Example: Nutella-fight photo contest)
  2. Reward those who do share with personal attention from the brand itself. (Example: Promise to send the winner a free toaster)
  3. Activate fans as brand ambassadors by giving them a reason to share amazing brand experiences. (Example: Show up at their door with paparazzi and a year’s worth of toast too)
image 2

Your fans want to have fun with your brand.

The power of word-of-mouth marketing (It’s science!)

Forbes recently reported that 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. (What kind of friends do the other 8 percent have, right?)

And AdWeek published an infographic recently that states 89 percent of millennials trust family or friend recommendations over claims by the brand in question.

So, why is it that so many of our posts try to make the claims for our followers and fans. Let them say it for you and then put it on a shiny pedestal. By focusing on engagement and creating active influencers, you will find the increase in engagement drives up your reach and delivers leads that outperform your current conversion rate.

Lead generation is not bad. It has an important place in social media. But nobody likes the salesperson at the party, and people don’t buy from brands that their friends don’t like.

So when you think about bringing a new post into this world, understand that its nature, its purpose in life, is to help you show that pesky CIO who really knows best. Make it likeable, sharable and comment worthy, and you will have unleashed its full potential.

Disclaimer: No CIOs were harmed in the making of this blog post. I actually like my CIO.

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