When one of our fabulous Social Media Coordinators asked for a blog about common social media problems and their solutions, I jumped at the opportunity to assign myself to the task. I believe I could seriously write a book about this one (I’m a problem solver by nature) and sometimes it’s a bit of struggle helping a company move from point A to point Z especially when I want to be on point ZZZ (haha that wasn’t meant to be a sleeping joke, but it kind of turned into one).
A common problem with branding on social media is that companies think the same rules for traditional advertising apply to digital advertising. The short answer is – they don’t. Here’s the problem: advertising on social media is not as simple as taking your traditional advertising (flyers, leaflets, coupons, brochures, etc.) and reformatting to digital sizing. #Nope. Let me repeat that a different way in case you’re a visual person.
Branding on social media is more than using the same font style and layout for every post. In fact, that may hurt your company because the content becomes boring to the audience. Each platform’s audience communicates differently and each of your audiences within those platforms communicates differently. It takes time and patience to learn their languages.
Solutions: 1) forget most of what you know about traditional branding guidelines because very little of it applies to social media, 2) create social media guidelines that define your social brand and how you will/will not speak to your audience but don’t put too much emphasis on colors/font styles, and 3) learn what awakens your audience(s) so you can increase opportunities to speak with them, actually keep their attention, and cultivate engagement.
- Ads vs. Posts
One of the biggest mistakes (IMO) I see companies making on social media is that they use every post to sell something to their audience. They have 2500 followers and so they think “everyone” saw their post because it’s digital. In actuality, they are reaching 50-100 people with less than 5% engagement and sometimes 0% engagement. That’s a low percentage of reach and engagement.
Solutions: Rethink how you use social media. It’s much more involved than making a pitch to a follower. Paid ads on social media should be 1) designed to attract a buyer with creativity and strategy and 2) create a connection with a potential customer that leads them to follow you.
Posts on social media should be 1) centered around content that generates an atmosphere of dynamic social response, 2) building a community of loyal followers, and 3) limited to 1 pitch for every 20-25 posts (unless you are an influencer/public figure with a major following).
People who like your content will like your product, buy it, and promote it. It really is that simple. Companies who embrace this simple philosophy will see the power of social media work to their benefit. Companies who try to work against the different platforms/audience types will continue to struggle in their social media efforts.
- Reality vs. Expectation
SMH. This one. This one right here gets me every month. When I look at current results and the expectation of better results, I smh. Data is an important part of generating results on social media. Did you know that many of these platforms have advertisements that are actively learning multiple factors that affect ad performance? An active ad gathers information about potential customers that is extremely important for planning, strategy, and implementation of future content/advertisements. Problems: 1) expecting more for less, 2) impatience and 3) expecting immediate results.
Solutions: 1) set expectations based on actual data and don’t just choose numbers out of the sky such as 50% growth over the last month or even 3 months because it’s most likely unrealistic and it lowers morale, 2) tell yourself over and over – chisel it in stone “There WILL be ups and downs. Plans don’t ALWAYS go according to plan. There are obstacles and external factors that affect results which may be out of your control. Adjust accordingly. Sometimes THAT IS the best anyone can do.” In other words, have patience with the process, and 3. It takes a minimum of 2 weeks to a full month to get a good baseline of data. Account for strategy/implementation time. Realize there will be adjustments along the way for each creative and even for every factor and all of those adjustments affect data/results.
- Audience & Growth
I just about fall out of my chair laughing when I hear someone question the population of their city and why they don’t have more followers. Here’s the problem: they think that potential audience growth is calculated by deducting followers from the population. That is absolutely incorrect. SMH. Let’s look at a real-life example. The population of Kalamazoo, Michigan is 75,807 (2017 US Census). Lindenwoods Dental has 222 Facebook followers. It’s a problem to think that they could potentially add another 75,585 followers. It’s unrealistic, unreasonable, illogical, and a whole list of other not so fabulous adjectives.
Solution: Realize that your data pool of potential followers gets smaller or larger as you consider internal and external factors.
Here are a few things I would consider to start:
What is the percentage of people in the area who use dental services?
How many competitors are in the area?
How far would they like to extend their reach?
Are they looking for customers who only want a specific type of dental service?
This list gets more detailed and refined as more factors are added into the audience growth strategy. The answer to these questions (and many more) will increase/decrease potential audience growth. And it makes a difference which platform of social media as well as whether or not you are a single local company, one with multiple locations/branches, a national chain, etc.
Problem: not knowing when to boost or promote a post. I call it the boost monster because some companies feed it lots of money with very little return. Month after month, they spend hundreds of dollars (maybe thousands) on boosting/promoting posts that receive less engagement than what they would if they were to focus on increasing their organic growth.
Solutions: 1) determine the level of engagement you require to boost a post and adjust this number as you grow your engagement rates and 2) evaluate your return on spending. Most social platforms are designed to calculate engagement and they provide useful tips to help you decide if something is boost/promotion-worthy. Evaluate your return. Were the results worth your cost (both in time spent/dollars spent)? What results could have been yielded if you spent those hundreds or thousands of advertising dollars on something that yields greater results?