Everyone thinks they’re an expert on social media these days. Whether it’s a spammy direct message on Twitter advertising “I can get you 1,000 US followers for $5,” to someone coining themselves the Dalai Lama of Social Media. [It’s true: he’s on Twitter.]
To cut through the clutter and stick to what’s important, (engagement, people!), I’ve broken down some of the worst social media advice ever heard.
- “You have to be on all social networks” To date, there are over 214 social media platforms, both U.S. based and international. That is quite an audience to cover, and unless you have a megaphone bigger than Ms. Cyrus, no one is going to hear you. Concentrate and base your strategy on the social platforms that your current and target audience is on. Are you a fancy new tapas bar that just opened in West Hollywood? Facebook, Instagram, and foursquare will be the best public route to take. Instagram, on the other hand, would not be fitting if you owned a plumbing company. Is your sole target demographic stay at home moms? Pinterest should be your best friend. Women make up 80% of active Pinterest users.
- “All you have to do is schedule content to send out at the same time across all platforms.” Do the Twitter fails of American Air ring a bell? Instead of addressing complaints tweeted to them by dissatisfied customers, the brand “thanked” users for supporting them. The backlash revealed that the airline was using an automation scheduling system and a seriously inhumane approach to social media. Social media automation may be every marketer’s best friend, but it does not replace social media. Authentic engagement with customers and followers will convert them into brand advocates. Rule of thumb: robots+potential customers don’t equal a positive relationship with your brand. Take the time to engage.
- My favorite “Just hire an intern!” Oh those dreaded internships of my college days. Reflecting back on it now, how can any serious brand put an intern in charge of their social media? An internship is for learning. You should not hire an intern to “learn” how to strategize your social media at the expense of your brand. (Sorry current interns looking for a front-of-the-line gig!) Appoint a seasoned employee or centralize a team if you don’t want to outsource your marketing efforts. An intern’s appeal may sound fitting, (free!), but your brand won’t be getting the diploma at the end of the year.
- “Social media is the new SEO.” Those “experts” that think social media has replaced search engine optimization deserve a slap on the wrist by Zuckerberg himself. The common notion of social numbers having a stronger priority over genuine link building and content when it comes to search engine ranking doesn’t quite yet hold water. However, social media can enhance a brand’s search engine optimization efforts when done correctly. Social media is one of many – albeit powerful – microphones to amplify your brand’s message. So the more people you have listening on social media, the greater the opportunity for those listeners to share and engage with your brand. The more sharing and engaging, the more likely Google will recognize your content as genuine content and reward it in the rankings for targeted keywords. But this is a long term strategy, and will take time for all these content seeds to take root. So for the short term, keep your SEO for Dummies book handy. You’ll need it.
Social media is a powerful, incredible way to interact and attract your audience, and there will always be great – and not so great – nuggets of wisdom out there offering to help your campaign shine. The tough part is finding them, and knowing what’s worth a listen, and what’s advice worth passing up.