Opin­ion: Busi­ness­es fail at social media mar­ket­ing for so many rea­sons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strat­e­gy

Research shows that there are cur­rent­ly more than 2.8 bil­lion social media users, and a whop­ping 83 per­cent of Amer­i­cans use social media. Based on this, it is an eas­i­ly estab­lished fact that social media is a force to reck­on with.

Despite increas­ing social media adop­tion, avail­able data shows that a good per­cent­age of busi­ness­es are not get­ting results from their social media efforts: Accord­ing to research from Sim­ply Mea­sured, the per­cent­age of busi­ness­es “strug­gling to mea­sure the return on invest­ment” of their social media mar­ket­ing efforts is as high as 60 per­cent.

Busi­ness­es fail at social media mar­ket­ing for so many rea­sons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strat­e­gy. Below are six real­ly crit­i­cal social strat­e­gy mis­takes you should avoid:

Assuming your social media marketing operates in a vacuum

The No. 1 mis­take most busi­ness­es make with their social media mar­ket­ing strate­gies is that of assum­ing that their social media mar­ket­ing oper­ates in a vac­u­um. Many of these busi­ness­es believe that sim­ply invest­ing huge amounts in social media mar­ket­ing, or going viral, will solve their busi­ness woes. Usu­al­ly, it won’t.

More often than not, your social media mar­ket­ing efforts are aimed at achiev­ing a cer­tain goal. Even if this goal is not a direct goal, such as increas­ing sales, the fact remains that you’re prob­a­bly not on social media just to be on social media.

To make social media mar­ket­ing work for you, your strat­e­gy must incor­po­rate the big pic­ture. If your goal is to boost sales and con­ver­sions, how do your social media efforts tie into your sales and con­ver­sion efforts? It is very essen­tial to con­sid­er this fac­tor when work­ing on your social strat­e­gy.

Overextending yourself and your budget on social media

Pic­ture two busi­ness­es: Busi­ness A spends about $2,000 month­ly on social media con­tent and is able to cre­ate 200 pieces of con­tent and dis­trib­ute them to 10 dif­fer­ent social media sites. Busi­ness B spends just $500 month­ly on social media con­tent and is able to cre­ate 800 pieces of con­tent and dis­trib­ute them to 10 dif­fer­ent social media sites. Which of these busi­ness­es will get the most ROI? I think we can safe­ly assume that it is busi­ness B.

While so many fac­tors influ­ence social media ROI, at the end of the day, social media bud­get doesn’t play as much of a role as many peo­ple assume it does.

So what mis­take is busi­ness A mak­ing that busi­ness B is avoid­ing? That of overex­ten­sion. Sim­ply put, busi­ness B has mas­tered the art of max­i­miz­ing its bud­get. This is pos­si­ble in sev­er­al ways:

  • Repur­pos­ing con­tent: Where­as busi­ness A keeps cre­at­ing orig­i­nal con­tent, busi­ness B repur­pos­es the same piece of con­tent into one-dozen dif­fer­ent for­mats. Costs of pro­duc­tion goes down while quan­ti­ty of con­tent goes up.
  • Con­tent syn­di­ca­tion: Busi­ness B is able to have the same piece of con­tent dis­trib­uted across mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent chan­nels, while busi­ness A focus­es on hav­ing orig­i­nal con­tent on every social chan­nel.

Not realizing the importance of the mere-exposure effect

It is a well-estab­lished fact that more expo­sure to some­thing increas­es our lik­ing for it, regard­less of how good it actu­al­ly is. Psy­chol­o­gists have coined the term “famil­iar­i­ty prin­ci­ple” or “the mere-expo­sure effect” to describe this phe­nom­e­non.

Inter­est­ing­ly, BuzzSumo’s recent research that ana­lyzed more than 100 mil­lion pieces of con­tent came to sup­port the mere-expo­sure effect. The study found that shar­ing old pieces of con­tent over and over again on social media can boost con­ver­sions by up to 686 per­cent.

Not being well prepared on the back end

Every busi­ness using social media needs to be famil­iar with Tina Henson’s sto­ry. With her start­up tak­ing up, Hen­son real­ized that there was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to gen­er­ate some viral traf­fic and boost sales by tap­ping into the hol­i­day sea­son buzz. So she cre­at­ed a mar­ket­ing cam­paign and things went big­ger than she antic­i­pat­ed. She sud­den­ly got a lot of atten­tion, and vis­i­tors to her site sud­den­ly increased by 40 times what she got on the aver­age day. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, she wasn’t pre­pared. Her site crashed, and she lost sev­er­al thou­sand peo­ple who came to her site dur­ing her cam­paign.

Henson’s isn’t an iso­lat­ed inci­dent. Many busi­ness­es make prepa­ra­tions to key into a social media buzz, only to end up los­ing out. While your site might not even crash, being slow by one sec­ond could sig­nif­i­cant­ly decrease your con­ver­sions. There are so many reli­able and inex­pen­sive web-host­ing options, so make sure your site is pre­pared.

Only targeting your offers to your followers

If, as a brand, your social media strat­e­gy main­ly involves sim­ply tar­get­ing your offers to your fol­low­ers, you’re miss­ing out on a lot of sales and con­ver­sions.

Accord­ing to research from Edi­son Research, only 33 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have ever fol­lowed a brand on social media. It also doesn’t help that most social media sites sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce your reach to fol­low­ers.

If you’re only tar­get­ing your offers to your social media fol­low­ers, then you’re miss­ing out a big deal. Instead, explore tar­get­ed adver­tis­ing options, con­sid­er reach­ing out to influ­encers and brands that share a sim­i­lar audi­ence and encour­age them to share your offers and reg­u­lar­ly tap into trends to pro­mote your brand.

Playing the quantity game

It is essen­tial to real­ize that social media isn’t sim­ply a num­bers game. While num­bers indeed do mat­ter, it isn’t only about numbers—channel-audience fit and engage­ment are more impor­tant met­rics to pay atten­tion to. If you run a ser­vices busi­ness that tar­gets pro­fes­sion­als, for exam­ple, LinkedIn will yield more results com­pared to Twit­ter.

Focus on being on the right social chan­nels and put in more effort into cre­at­ing engaged, loy­al fol­low­ers than in boost­ing your fol­low­er count.