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10 Signs You're Using Social Media Wrong

There’s a vast difference between running social media profiles because that’s the de facto expectation of businesses these days and actually building a substantive social following that contributes to your business goals.

Any of the following 10 signs may be indications that you’re veering closer to the former scenario:

1. You don’t update regularly. The number-one cardinal sin most new social media marketers commit is not sticking to a regular posting schedule. If your followers see your profiles run dry for more than a few days (let alone a few weeks or months) at a time, they’ll fall out of the habit of checking in with your business.

2. You aren’t gaining followers. Acquiring followers isn’t a perfect way to measure social media success. However, if your social following isn’t growing as a result of your marketing efforts, you need to reevaluate your strategy. Try to come up with something new that will engage a larger number of people across wider demographics.

3. You broadcast, rather than engage. It sounds cliché, but social media is all about the conversation. If you’re constantly broadcasting -- that is, sending your thoughts out into digital space in a one-way fashion -- you’re missing out on the powerful benefits that can come from true engagement.

4. You use your social profiles like ad streams. Under no circumstances should you treat your social profiles as just another avenue to send out your sales pitches and marketing messages. The content you share on social networks should be informative, engaging, entertaining and/or conversational. Veering too often into sales territory is a surefire way to get your followers to tune you out.

5. You autopost updates across all your social profiles. The types of content that perform well on Facebook are different from those that do well on Twitter, which -- again -- are different from those that garner engagement on Pinterest, Google+ or any other social network. If you’re autoposting a single update to all of your different social channels, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect effectively with followers on each site.

6. You haven’t established social brand guidelines. Part of good branding is establishing a set of guidelines that dictate how you control your company’s image in public -- and social media shouldn’t be exempted from this process. A good social brand guidelines document will include specifications on all of the following (among others that may be relevant to your company):

  • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles

  • How frequently your social profiles will be updated

  • What types of content you’ll post about

  • How you’ll use imagery in your postsWhat type of “voice” you’ll use when posting

7. You use a “post-by-post” strategy. Though it might seem like social media marketing is a “spur-of-the-moment” activity, the companies that get the best results are those that develop an overarching strategy for connecting with their followers. If your business doesn’t yet have this in place, invest some time in setting overall social media goals that’ll drive your individual daily posts.

8. You ignore (or delete) negative social mentions. No matter how “good” your company is, negative social mentions happen. And when they do happen, there’s only one way to respond. Instead of ignoring -- or worse, deleting -- the message, offer your sincerest apologies, a candid explanation of what went wrong and any actions you plan to take to either compensate the offended customer or ensure the issue doesn’t happen again in the future.

9. You don’t respond to customer posts quickly. According to a survey conducted by the Social Habit, 32 percent of customer respondents who contacted businesses for support via social channels expected a response within 30 minutes. To make matters worse, 24 percent expect a 30-minute response regardless of when the initial contact was made -- even if it was made outside of business hours.The bottom line? When a customer asks you a question, you’ve got to respond quickly. If monitoring your individual profiles is too cumbersome, consider tools such as Hootsuite [free] or Sprout Social [plans start at $39 a month] to simplify the process.

10. You aren’t tracking return on investment. Finally, keep in mind that while social media conversations are important, your business needs to receive some tangible value for your efforts -- and you’ll only know if you’re getting out more than you’re putting in if you track ROI. No matter what kind of outcome you hope to achieve through social media marketing, there’s a way to track and quantify your efforts to ensure your resources are being allocated wisely.

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