Don’t Join Social Media! Unless It’s for the Right Reasons

We’re all guilty of jumping on the bandwagon once or twice in our lives (maybe more?), whether it was pairing socks with your Birkenstocks, bleaching your hair so you could be more like Eminem, or jumping into Snapchat without a clue. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what it is to be human. In business though, joining the latest trend without considering all of the elements and possible effects can be costly or, even worse, damage your brand.

In the book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips, author Andrew Macarthy discusses the one big mistake that many businesses make with social media: joining social media sites just because everyone else is doing so. When businesses join these sites without understanding what they are doing or why, it can lead to unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, wasted time and squandered resources.

To avoid such consequences, here are five key considerations your business should make before using social media:

  1. Decide which social networks suit your brand: The social media sites that work best for your business will be those where your target audience already hangs out. For example, if you are a B2B company, your target audience will most likely be present on LinkedIn and Twitter, as opposed to platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.

  2. Define and evaluate your goals: Before posting content on your social media platforms, identify the goals you would like to reach using the SMART technique. With this method, you will determine the Specific goals you want to reach, as well as how your goals are Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time specific.

  3. Shape your content strategy: Before you begin your social media marketing, take the time to perform an audit, identifying your audience along with what problems you can help solve, what questions you can answer, what type of content they prefer (i.e. text, photo, graphics, video) and when they are most likely to be around to see it. You should also use this time to determine what your competition is doing on social media.

  4. Plan content in advance: Developing a social media content calendar allows you to plan your social media for weeks and even months in advance. For example, you can plan to promote blog posts on Monday, ask your audience questions on Tuesdays, share relevant infographics on Wednesdays, etc. Planning ahead will also allow you to incorporate relevant holidays, awareness days, and important company events and milestones. However, be sure to leave room for spontaneous posts too.

  5. Understand that social media requires a lot of time: In order for social media marketing to be successful, it will require a significant investment of time over the long haul. Typically, at least 12-15 hours per week should be spent planning, creating, and scheduling content, as well as measuring results and engaging customers. Hence the importance of selecting your platforms wisely and not spreading yourself too thin!

These five considerations will help you begin to understand what kind of approach to social media works for your business. Whether you need to boost brand recognition, connect with new customers or increase traffic to your website, social media can be a cost-effective way to achieve your goals. Although it takes a lot of time and effort, social media can be well worth it when it’s done right.

By Maggie Markert