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5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

social media mistakes we do not likeWhether social media is the primary lead generator for your business, or just one aspect of your brand communications it’s crucial you approach it with professionalism and with a strategy. In this article I’m going to outline some of the most common social media mistakes that businesses make, and give you some tips and advice on how you can avoid them and put your best social media foot forward.  

So, let’s kick off! 

1. Inconsistent Branding


Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them. Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers don’t always see your social media post one at a time. They’ll click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.   

Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts.  For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow, whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.

The same goes for typography.  Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images. Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you’ll also have rules about what you say in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.  If you’re business is B2B in the legal profession, for instance, you should be posting about news and subjects relevant to your industry. Don’t muddy the water with random off-topic throw-ins.  

Likewise, never mix business and personal. There’s no room for family pics on LinkedIn – save them for your personal Facebook profile. The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your messaging you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand-alone social media post of yours and for them to say- ‘that looks/sounds like it’s from (Your Business)’. 

2. Under or Over-posting

One of the most common social media mistakes is being inconsistent with how much you post. The problem works both ways. Posting too little shows a lack of investment and interest. Posting too much, on the other hand,  can appear spammy and annoying.

Let’s do the Goldielocks test.

Goldielocks social media bowls, too much, too little, just right

 

Too Much
Who annoys you on social media? Chances are it’s not the brand we’ve just discussed that only pops their head up on social sporadically. It’s the person or business who clogs up your feed with lots and lots of content.  And what do we tend to do with it? Skim, skip, dismiss.

My old teacher Mr O’Connor used to warn us chatterboxes that “empty vessels make the most noise”.  While it’s not necessarily true that chronic over-posters produce poor content, this is unfortunately the lasting impression that post saturation gives. Do you need 10 snapshots from your shop a day? 

Too Little
Long gaps between posts will not do you any favours when it comes to the Facebook algorithm. It punishes infrequency, and once you drop the ball on engagement it can be hard to get back.  Aside from the bots you need to think about your customers. Put the shoe on the other foot. If you’re planning on using a business – let’s say a boutique hotel – and you visit their Facebook page to see what’s been happening there recently, only to find nothing has been posted in the last 5 months. What does that say to you? To me it says the hotel isn’t overly bothered about how it appears to its customers, and it would make me think twice about booking.

Just Right
The best thing to do is to look at your engagement levels as a way to gauge your post frequency. If your engagement is consistently high then the demand for your social media content is there – so go for it. If engagement patterns fluctuate significantly then focus on high quality over high quantity at regular, but not rapid, intervals. For some ballpark guidance on posting it’s ok to post 3-5 times per week to Facebook and Instagram, whereas a Tweet a day is OK. In fact, Twitter is set up for more frequent posting, so if you’ve got more than one thing to say in a day feel free to Tweet away! (There’s a poem in there somewhere….).

3. Not Engaging


The whole point of social media is to engage with your target audience. That means being in conversation with them and not just sending messages their way. One way to engage with your social media followers is by responding to comments promptly. Be prepared to respond to messages outside of your traditional business hours. You should be responding to all comments, good or (it happens!) bad.  Don’t miss an opportunity to demonstrate your quality customer service when facing negative comments or complaints. Respond in a timely and appropriate manner. If you manage to placate the situation you just might be on to PR gold. Lemons, lemonade and all that!  

turn social media lemons into lemonade

The other thing to remember is not to neglect good comments! They’re valuable endorsements for your business and you should show appreciation to those who post them. Thanking them and sharing these posts will likely encourage others to share their happy thoughts about your business too.

Another easy way to engage is by promoting user-generated content. But make sure to credit the source! You should also think about ways to engage with other businesses in your local area. This will allow you to garner the attention of their followers. It also allows for cross-promotion and other mutually beneficial opportunities. It’s not called social media networking for nothing.

4. Being Overly Promotional


If your social media plan is to sell, sell, sell, then you’re setting yourself up to fail, fail, fail! 

Time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes again. Do you buy a magazine purely to browse the ads? No! You’re interested in the editorial content – and the same goes for social media. Your brand should therefore position itself as a publisher of content rather than an overt point of sale. It’s about delighting your customers and interacting with them rather than just advertising to them.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t throw a sale in every now and then, plug some products, introduce new services and so on. The idea is to get the balance right. My recommendation is to go with the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your content valuable to your audience, be it informative or entertaining or useful – whatever works for your brand. You can then keep 20% for more promotional material and Calls To Action. 

For example, if your company is in Fintech, you could share information about financial markets, tips for managing finance, relevant news stories and industry trends. With this balance your customers will appreciate your content and be far more open to your promotions.  

5. Using Poor Visuals

A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media. In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention and text alone simply will not cut it.

You ALWAYS need to include a visual element in your social media posts. Furthermore, it needs to be eye-catching and of high-quality. Read more on this here where I discuss 7 DIY tips to enhance your social media images.

Now, we need to talk about video. If a picture tells a thousand words then a video tells a thousand pictures. Motion catches the eye like nothing else. As consumers we are getting more and more used to receiving content this way so your brand needs to keep up. Your videos don’t need to be Hollywood productions. Just make sure they are clear and that they fit with your brand!   

Fail to Prepare – Prepare to Fail


This was another one of Mr. O’Connor’s favourite sayings, and he used it interchangeably with the tongue twister: “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”.

 I want to end this post by talking about planning. I haven’t included Failing to Plan as one of my key points, because it’s implicit in all of the social media mistakes I’ve discussed. There’s plenty of occasion for reactive and spur of the moment social media posting. This is, after all, the original premise of Instagram. However, and this is a big however, approaching social media for business as a purely ad-hoc and sporadic exercise will do you no favours.  

Best practice is to design and plan your social media calendar. This should feed off your businesses wider content strategy and the insights you yield from analysing your social media analytics.

There are tons of dates and events that we can be proactive about scheduling posts for rather than reactive. Take St. Patrick’s Day. If leveraging this event fits with your brand identity then why not plan for it in advance. Thinking ahead about your content will give you time to produce something of really high quality, rather than panicking on the day to put something out.

Setting time aside to strategise and populate your social media calendar will save you heaps of time in the long run and will help your business be more consistent and engaging on social media.  

Let’s get social!

Now you know what to do and more importantly what not to do it’s time for your business to get social 🙂

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or on CONKER’S social media – Twitter, Facebook, Linked in – and let me know who you are so I can share the love back.

What’s the Buzz with Inbound Marketing?  The 5 Big Differences Between Traditional and Inbound Marketing Models

What’s the Buzz with Inbound Marketing? The 5 Big Differences Between Traditional and Inbound Marketing Models

Inbound marketing is one of the biggest buzzwords in the marketing world at present. But just because we’ve heard the term before doesn’t mean we’ve taken it on board and know how to apply it to our businesses!  Sometimes the more noise there is the less we hear.

bees buzzing

From speaking with my clients I think the term Inbound Marketing is still drawing blanks for some business owners. In fact you could say their definition of Inbound marketing is more fuzzy than buzzy!  There’s a general understanding that ‘Inbound’ offers an alternative to traditional ‘Outbound’ marketing strategies and a vague sense that it’s something to do with the internet. But for many people that’s as far as it goes.

If this sounds like you then you’ve come to the right (non judgemental) place!  In this article I’m going back to basics to explain exactly what the difference is between Inbound Marketing and the Traditional ‘Outbound’ Marketing methodology.

Take a few minutes to read this article and you’ll be able to break through the fuzz and join in the buzz!

What is Traditional ‘Outbound’ Marketing?

Traditional outbound marketing is rooted in the sales advertising model. It’s all about sending messages to your customers by putting your brand right in front of them.

Think of the countless TV or magazine ads that promote an aspirational lifestyle by association with their product or service. Think about the old school sales pitch of a used car salesman on a radio ad. Think about the leaflet for your local Chinese take-away waiting for you on your doormat when you arrive home hungry and tired from work!

In 2017 we’re being bombarded with an average of 2,000 outbound sales messages per day!  From a business perspective this makes it harder and harder to compete. The sheer volume of communications out there means that people are less susceptible to advertising. They are even taking practical measures to block them from their path. For example, ‘No Junk Mail’ signs,  spam filters, Caller ID, Ad Blockers, Netflix to watch movies and shows uninterrupted by advertising.

Of course this doesn’t mean that people have stopped shopping and making brand affiliations!  There’s just a new trend in consumer patterns which harnesses the internet to shift the buyer journey into an inbound marketing model.

What is Inbound Marketing? 

The internet has created a search culture. Where previously we waited for goods and services to find us, we now take an active role in finding them.  We have specific questions we want answered and are willing to trawl through heaps of information before we make a buying decision.

Many businesses have come to recognise this trend and are optimising their online presence to attract rather than pursue customers.

Inbound marketing is the strategy of getting your business found.  It’s about attracting users to your website by providing relevant content that they find valuable and then converting them into leads and ultimately into customers.

‘Content marketing’ which is a buzzword in itself is a subcategory of Inbound marketing.  It teaches and helps customers to solve problems as a means of building a trustworthy brand reputation and prestige.  You will all be familiar with ‘How to…’ articles or ‘the Top 5…’ etc..  You might be thinking this very article fits the category of content marketing, and indeed you would be right.

Let’s look at some of the key differences between Inbound marketing and traditional marketing. Oh fancy that – there are 5!

The 5 Big Differences Between Traditional and Inbound Marketing
#1: If Outbound is Push, Inbound is Pull

Traditional marketing in the form of advertising is directly promotional. It’s telling customers why to buy your product or service.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, takes a softer approach. It’s about ‘selling less’. The idea is to build a reputation as a trustworthy brand in order to persuade customers to choose your product or service.

An effective Inbound Marketing technique would therefore be to provide content that helps consumers make the right purchasing decision for them without overtly promoting your own offering. Giving away useful and objective insights about your industry draws customers to your website and gains you a reputation as a credible brand and thought leader.

In this way it is useful to think of Inbound Marketing as a magnetic force and Outbound Marketing as a spray.

#2 :  Traditional Marketing is Brand-Focused, Inbound Marketing is Customer-Focused

In traditional marketing, advertising companies attempt to grab some mind space and sell regardless of whether the customer is ready to buy or not. The more often a brand is put in front of audiences the better. But just because we want a certain product doesn’t necessarily mean we can have it. We’ve all known that disappointment!

The point here is that even if n ad appeals to audiences they may not buy the product for the simple fact that they can’t afford it or just don’t need it. For example, If you’ve recently bought a fridge then you don’t need another and so on…

 

Wouldn’t it be better to focus on people who are actively seeking the products and services that you sell? In other words, connecting  with someone when they’re looking for a fridge rather than after they’ve bought one?

Inbound marketing is set up to cater for the buyer’s journey and is focused on the customer’s needs. The potential buyer only comes looking for information when they are ready to begin thinking about a purchase. Inbound marketeers can be clever about the content they supply by making sure to answer questions that cater to the various different stages a buyer will go through from initial product awareness to decision making.

Hubspot, who are largely responsible for coining the term “Inbound Marketing” and popularising the Inbound methodology distinguish 3 key stages of the buyer’s journey:

1. Awareness Stage: The buyer realises they have a problem.

2. Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.

3. Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.

#3:. Traditional Marketing is Interruptive, Inbound Marketing is Supportive 

After a long day working in the office a young professional kicks back in her Dublin City Centre apartment to watch her favourite TV show.  Let’s say it’s House of Cards and OK let’s say it’s me! 🙂 The ad break interrupts her viewing with an ad promoting a new lawnmower that cuts mowing time in half. What’s wrong with this?

Well, firstly, it’s interruptive and catching me at a time when I’m not set up to make an active buying decision. Secondly, and most importantly, I have zero interest in lawnmowers because I don’t have a garden!

‘Spray & Pray’ advertising techniques need a lot of investment in order to reach enough potential customers. Granted, media purchasing can be targeted to certain audiences. Nevertheless you’ll still hit on a whole lot of people who simply don’t want or even need your product.

The Inbound marketing alternative here would be for the lawnmower company to host an online blog with helpful information about all things lawn mowing.  This will attract targeted customers with this specific interest and those searching to resolve lawn mowing problems.

Ta Da!  The target customer buzzes into the sales funnel all on their own accord. The lawnmower brand rather than pestering their customers with sales messages can shift its position to helping and educating their customers.

#4: Traditional Marketing has a One-way Flow of Communication, Inbound Marketing is a Conversation 

One of the most important aspects of the online marketing channel is the opportunity it provides to interact with potential customers. Crucially, rather than sending out a sales message and hoping it went down well, Online marketing allows businesses to open a conversation with their customers.  This serves both parties better.  Businesses can learn more about what their customers want. Conversely, customers have their say and therefore feel empowered.

A recent Forbes survey reports that 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks they’re more likely to become a loyal customer. Of the same group of people, only 1% said they would trust what a brand tells them in a commercial advertisement alone. Clearly people want to interact with a company and not just be sold a product or service.

#:. Quick Wins Versus Long-term Strategy

Traditional marketing tends to be campaign based and there is no denying the fact the results will be quicker. Inbound marketing is a long-term process that will take time to build momentum.  If you’re going to focus on giving customers valuable information through content marketing strategies then you need to think along the lines of slow and steady wins the race!

I like to think of it like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  You can read more about this concept in my article”why Content Marketing is a Tortoise in Disguise”.

Content Marketing Tprtpose versus the Pay Per Click Advertising Hare

Is Traditional Marketing over?

Definitely not!  Inbound marketing is a whole new way of doing business that works really well for certain businesses.  Traditional marketing still has a massive impact for others. However, what’s important is to know which model works best for your business or how to combine aspects of each model together to best effect.

Some products and services are all about impulsive consumer behaviours or self-imposed rule-breaking.  I’ll give you a personal example. I would probably never try and solve the problem of identifying the most sugar-packed double iced lemon curd donut in Dublin. On the contrary, I’d be more likely to search for something like ‘ways to beat sugar cravings’. Yet I might still fall prey to a poster in a donut shop window as I idle pass and decide to throw all caution to the sugar storm wind and buy/scoff a donut.

Equally, there are many brands whereby brand awareness and association are part of the sell. These brands need plenty of touchstones to stay top of the mind and so will combine traditional campaign style marketing with other digital strategies.

My advice for business owners then is to know your audience and what they want and need. Inbound marketing is the right fit for lots of businesses and it can make a major impact if done correctly.

I hope you’ve found this article useful and are coming out of it a lot less fuzzy about Inbound marketing than when you came in. If you have any questions or comments on this or related topics please feel free to leave a reply below.

Don’t forget to sign up to our Newsletter before you buzz off!

Sinead Gillett

Creative Director @ CONKER

5 Quick Tips – Improve Your Google Adwords Results

5 Quick Tips – Improve Your Google Adwords Results

Google Adwords can be a great asset in growing your business and results can be achieved in the shorter term.

If a person is searching Google, they have taken action to search for something specific which means your ad is being delivered to an interested audience.   Another key benefit of Adwords is that you only pay when someone clicks (Pay-per-click – PPC) on your ad so you are paying for tangible results.

Check out some Quick Tips that will help you make the best use of your Adwords budget.

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