Antisocial Media

March 1, 2018
How to correct common social media mistakes

About the author: Tim Miles is founder and CEO of Tim Miles & Co. Miles can be reached at [email protected] or 615.538.5511.

Chances are, you’re doing social media wrong. I don’t mean any disrespect by this; perhaps you are, in fact, the exception to the rule. If so, sweet! #HighFive #ChestBump #SideHug

Listen, I hope you are fulfilled by the results you are seeing from your social media efforts. Having worked with hundreds of companies and spoken to or conducted workshops for thousands more around the world, I can tell you two things:

  1. If it’s working for you, you’re in the minority; and
  2. If you think it should be working better for you, chances are extremely high you are committing at least one of these seven common mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not Knowing How to Measure Success

Like many of your colleagues, you may have dipped your toe into of social media waters with the best intentions. However, when doing so, you did not really have a clear idea of what success would look like.

As with any new media channel—or any investment in your company—have you written out a realistic assessment of your expectations? How are you measuring success, and are you giving this new investment the resources it needs to be successful?

For example, we know that if our clients are using Facebook for lead generation, we need to measure:

  • Video views (in minutes);
  • Relevancy scores;
  • Clicks and conversions; and
  • What happens after users click.

Until you have a rubric you can trust to optimize campaigns and efforts, how can you expect to know whether or not you should be investing more or less into a media channel?

How will you measure the success of your investment? And make no mistake, it’s an investment.

Mistake 2: You Saw A Seminar Once

Let me guess: Somewhere in the not-too-distant past, you went to a seminar or watched a webinar where a magic bean seller promised you the healing powers of organic reach, right?

This mystical new social medium took advantage of these new consumers who wanted to engage with your brand, right? All you had to do was join the conversation and the world would beat a virtual path to your virtual door?

Please don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Social media channels are interesting opportunities in which to invest, but they’re just that: media channels.

When we sit down with our clients, we review not one, not two, but three kinds of media on spreadsheets (this won’t be the last time you hear me mention spreadsheets) to plan out the most effective, most efficient use of their ad budgets.

You will not get something for nothing. There are no magic beans. People are not interested in engaging with your brand. Which leads me to Mistake No. 3.

Mistake 3: Being “That Guy”

Have you ever been to a party or networking event where you’ve seen That Guy in action? You know that guy. He’s the one (usually loudly) going on and on about himself.

“I can do this ...”

“Well, I know for a fact that ...”

“I once told the Queen of Spain that ...”

By simply talking on and on about yourself, you become grossly offensive.

Yet, that’s how so many well-intentioned companies leapt into the social media pond. Oftentimes, it was because, in that seminar they attended, they heard these new people wanted to engage with them and their brands.

That’s not always true. People care about what’s interesting and relevant to them, their own problems, joys, frustrations and delights.

If you’re unwilling to invest in meeting people where they are, you will be sorely disappointed in social media. You will find yourself standing all alone at the party, shouting into the void.

Mistake 4: Believing It’s a Megaphone

Speaking of which, an evolution has been taking place, but it’s not the one you may have heard about at a seminar. The false evolution is that people are suddenly excited about engaging with brands. The true evolution, though, does have to do with how you’re attempting to connect with consumers.

Social media did open the floodgates into interconnectivity, a way for people to communicate en masse with one another—and sometimes with brands. With traditional media channels, such as broadcast and print, you would just shout your message from the rooftops. It was a strictly one-way monologue.

Today, not only should the style of your messaging be conducted in an uncontrived human voice, but you also should be using social media channels as more than just a megaphone. In fact, social media channels work best for brands and companies, and as radio telescopes. Social media channels are fantastic listening devices.

By investing a little time and research into understanding how users communicate in various channels, you can begin to listen in on public conversations about the challenges people face everyday and where opportunities may arise for you to solve those challenges.

Well, not those challenges, per se, but you’ll quickly come to realize that the same frustrations people are sharing on Twitter or Facebook in another city in another state are the same challenges consumers are facing in your market.

Social media is a wonderful, extraordinary, and evolutionary tool for discovering people’s great frustrations and unscratched itches. Stop shouting. Learn to listen.

Mistake 5: Thinking Social Media Is About the Technology

When social media channels began to go mainstream in the early aughts, we were either dazzled, dismissive,or downright terrified (usually, as late British author and playwright Douglas Adams noted, it depended on our age). Yes, the technology was impressive, but the technology itself wasn’t—and isn’t—the end. It was simply another tool, another means to an end, to reach customers or potential customers to make our company the one people know, like and trust when their need for us arises.

This is far from new. Social media’s most powerful tool is a spreadsheet filled with channels, themes, dates and dashboards to help us know how best to connect with people where they are at the different stages of interest (or lack thereof) in our products and services at any given time. Planning and preparation allow us to use media channels in the most effective ways. The technology created wonderful tools, but that is all they are: tools.

Mistake 6: Thinking Media > Message

None of the tools will work if you don’t have a message that’s relevant, credible, and either arouses interest in or deepens the perception of your company’s value. Jumping from one media channel to another because it’s new and shiny is a recipe for disaster. What do you plan on saying? How have you planned on connecting? Why should people allow you into their lives and channels?

With just a little time and effort, you can begin to learn the style and substance of any social media channel. With a little more time and a little more effort, you can learn the proper metrics for measuring your success in that channel. With a little more time and a little more effort on top of that, you can begin to gain traction using that channel.

Wait. This sounds an awful lot like work.

Mistake 7: Short Term Thinking

Yes. It’s work. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it well. You should plan on talking to customers about what matters to customers in the language customers use from now until you plan to sell or close your business. You should plan on studying (or hiring someone to study) how to connect with people authentically and powerfully. You should plan on studying (or hiring someone to study) where to connect with people as technology evolves and new channels and opportunities emerge.

The good news? There’s never been a better time to do what it is you do and to have vast stores of extraordinary research and help at your fingertips.

The better news? There has never been a more important time to be good at what it is you do, because the interconnectivity of social media has unleashed word-of-mouth-made-exponential.

If you’re good, really good, like, ALL CAPS GOOD, the sky’s the limit, as long as you’re willing to continue to do the work.

Social media changed everything and nothing. Go out and earn it, just like you’ve always done.

About the Author

Tim Miles

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