Don’t Fall For These Social Media Mistakes and Bits of Bad Advice
Solopreneur pals, I’ve heard and seen a LOT of bad social media advice lately – much of it shared ON social media. Don’t fall for any of these myths or pieces of misguided advice. I’ve done the research for you and will hook you up with what REAL experts and data say. Your social media will get mightier and smarter!
“I can just post/repost the same message on multiple platforms – isn’t that why tools like Hootsuite and Buffer let us cross-post?”
NO! Just because there are tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, PostPlanner, AgoraPulse or others that let you, doesn’t mean you should! I get that it can seem time-saving to just cross-post the same thing to Twitter and Facebook, or push your photos straight from Instagram to Facebook or Twitter. But please stop!! Take an extra few minutes and tailor your message – it’s smarter and leads to better engagement. Each social platform is different, with different core audience types, different expectations, different etiquette, and different ‘unwritten rules’. Twitter fans don’t like it when your Tweets trail off into bunch of ellipsis ( …) since you used more than 280 characters because it was really a Facebook post. And your Facebook audience is different than your Twitter followers and wants more of a story and content, not quick, sharp soundbites.
DO take a few extra minutes to tweak and customize your posts (inside tools like Buffer, HootSuite, PostPlanner, or the native social platforms) and optimize for each social network. Also, make sure your images are sized for optimal viewing on each platform (the popularity of tools like Canva and AdobeSpark with templates built in. Check my page on fave tools for more info)
“I’m excited my follower/fan/Likes went up! That means I’m successful on social.”
Congrats on getting more fans/followers! But … don’t be quick to literally count on those counts. Dig a little behind the #s:
- Are they active?
- Are they definitely real or maybe bots?
- Are they in your niche?
- Do they just follow/unfollow? Do they expect you to follow immediately back, and if not, they drop you?(ugh, I hate this behavior and trend. Follow who you want and who fits/matches your ideal customer!)
- Do they engage and have conversations on social media or just blast, blast, blast?
You don’t want artificially inflated numbers, nor a disengaged audience who won’t interact with you on social media. Fans/followers/Like counts are mostly considered ‘vanity’ metrics now and aren’t the real measure of social success. Engagement matters more – to the social channels and to your bottom line. Marketing these days is much more (if not only) about sharing content that’s valuable, helpful, educational, and sometimes entertaining – quality over quantity. Start with the built-in analytics tools for all the major social platforms and see which of your posts get more engagement, impressions, shares, comments, RTs, your mentions, etc.
Want some more metrics that matter to measure? Buffer gives 19 social metrics to track; SproutSocial breaks out the metrics that matter for each social platform; Mention gives 10 metrics to pay attention to (including, naturally, ones it helps with – like sentiment); and Social Media Examiner helps you know how to choose and track what matters.
Don’t forget – the metrics that matter most to YOU are the ones that get you closer to your overall marketing and business goals. [Need help getting clear on your SMART goals? Check out the new short-n-sweet, hands-on training in the Mighty Marketing Mojo Coaching program.]
“Social media is my main marketing tool, because it’s free.”
Social media HAS really leveled the playing field for small businesses and solopreneurs and given great opportunities to reach larger audiences for less. BUT… it is NOT free. Because it costs plenty of time, time that you may be better off spending on other parts of your business. It takes resources – you need content (original and curated), graphics, tools (and you might need more than the freemium versions), and yes, we often have to buy ads, promote, or boost posts now to get them seen. Remember – your time is VERY valuable, so don’t discount it.
“I have to figure out Snapchat, and Pinterest, and Instagram, and …. I need to be everywhere on social for my business.”
Not necessarily. Where are your ideal clients? What social platforms do they use most, and on which ones are they willing to interact with businesses, people selling/promoting? Have you done your social media market research yet? Play to the strengths of each social platform AND your business and style. [Need help figuring out how to start that research? Good news – I have guides and coaching for that. Remember, ‘research’ is practically my middle name.]
Don’t waste time learning a tool and trying to build a consistent brand presence on a platform that your ideal clients aren’t using and willing to engage with you on. Plus, you have limited time, resources, and energy – don’t spread yourself so thin!
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“My clients aren’t young people. They’re serious, mature adults. They aren’t using social media.”
Don’t be so quick to make assumptions or jump to conclusions without checking the data! Here are some quick facts to check – PLUS ask your clients what they use and why. Don’t ever assume.
- 52% of 55-64 yr old internet users have joined a social network
- Facebook is often the ‘entry’ social platform, thanks to ease of use and its ubiquity. 68% of all US adults are on Facebook. It has become more popular with Boomers, 41% of those 65-74 now have FB accounts.
- 40% of FB’s active users are 35+.
- 23% of Twitter’s users are 30-49, with 36% between ages of 18-29.
- 56% of those 50+ are YouTube users
- 79% of all Internet users 55-64 are using YouTube
- Instagram usage does skew younger, BUT in the U.S 20% of users are 35-44 and 15% are 45-54 and 55-64.
- 69% of all U.S. adults are on at least 1 social platform – Pew Research Center] and they do expect to find you on the biggest platforms where THEY each turn to daily.
“So, I have my marketing plans for this year, and here’s my email marketing plan, and over here is my social media marketing strategy and plans … “
No, no, no. Social media IS marketing, just one part of your total marketing plan. It shouldn’t have its own team, plan, or separate strategy. It needs to hold hands and integrate with the rest of what you’re doing to promote your biz and fill your client list. It supports you, helps you get to your goals, drives traffic to your website and email list, lets you talk with potential clients/customers, and educates your audience. You absolutely can NOT build a marketing plan or your whole online presence solely on SM. Social can drive traffic, create more awareness of other content, amplify your other marketing and PR efforts. Love this quote from Jay Baer:
“content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”
“Hashtags are important so I use them everywhere.” And “I’ve heard more hashtags are better.”
Well, #ItDepends. Hashtags are pretty darn important on Instagram (but don’t use quite so many), sort of important on Twitter, less important now than the beginning of Tumblr, and oh for the love of donuts please stop using them in all your posts on Facebook! They are NOT a thing there, no matter how hard Facebook itself tried and wants you to believe they are. Yes, yes, they’re still active on FB – you can add them and even search by them. But outside of some groups, they’re mostly used ironically, tongue-in-cheek, or almost to prove how unhip they are on FB. Please don’t look spammy, overly promotional, or clueless by using the wrong tags, too many tags, or tags in the wrong places. Need more convincing? Here’s some hashtag research:
- using more than 2 #hashtags on Twitter leads to 17% drop in engagement, tweets with only 1 or 2 #tags have 21% MORE engagement than tweets with 3+ tags (research done originally by Dan Zarrella when he was at HubSpot)
- Buffer did hashtag research that showed “FB posts without hashtags fare better than those with a hashtag.”
- Buzzsumo’s research of over a BILLION Facebook posts came to same conclusion – don’t use tags on FB.
- slight caveat – some big name marketing sources, like Hubspot, do recommend judicious, strategic use of hashtags. AdEspresso, from Hootsuite tested hashtags in FB ads and saw them do well.
Bottom line, use hashtags wisely.
Need more hashtag research help? I include 2 great hashtag tools in my Top 10 Fave Social Media Tools guide – get it FREE!
“We must post multiple times per day on every social platform.”
Again, it sort of depends – different guidelines for different social platforms AND your audience may react quite differently. Just like there are optimum times of day to post for YOUR audience, on EACH platform (check your analytics) – there are best practices on the number of times per day to post – and it varies by platform. For example, while it seems counter-intuitive, try posting LESS to Instagram (i.e. no more than 1x/day, maybe only 3-4x/week. Better to post consistently, with quality, than too often)
Good news – some of the big names in social media have already done the research based on thousands (maybe millions) of posts and so we have some guidelines for how often to post (remember – consistent is best, quality over quantity):
- CoSchedule’s results of research on how often to post on each social platform (they have access to a TON of data across their users – see the graphics below from them)
- Sprout Social’s research on timing, scheduling for posts
- Buffer testing the frequency of posting to Facebook, and the somewhat counter-intuitive results Buffer saw – TIP: post less, not more.
- TrackMaven’s analysis of best times to post on social – it depends on your niche, industry, and audience.
“I just haven’t seen any return for my time spent on social media marketing for my business.”
It’s so tough when we try things, spend a lot of time and effort, and aren’t sure it’s worth it. The phone didn’t start ringing more, we didn’t get emails from new prospective clients dying to hire us. Do we give up?
How long did you try on the optimal social platform for YOUR business with YOUR ideal clients? Did you see some things work? What if you tried more of that? Did you send traffic back to specific landing pages (not your home page)? Did you engage and have conversations or just blast away like social was a big megaphone? Cuz it’s not and we have to stop treating it like that.
Jay Baer, of Convince and Convert and work for the CMI:
“social is extremely measurable, but first you have to do something that can be measured.”
Did you set things up so that you COULD measure what you were doing on your chosen social channels? Did you have a clear, singularly focused CTA (your ask) on your social messages? Can you track traffic input to your website? Clicks to register for a webinar? Increase in email opt-ins via social? It IS possible to tie in ROI and social and there are plenty of tools for social metrics that aim to help you do just that (e.g. AgoraPulse, SproutSocial, SocialBakers, etc).
“Our clients are in really respectable, kind of stuffy fields – so we need to sound super professional all the time. But I think maybe our social media posts are getting boring.”
You’re probably right. Humans don’t like boring! And we are marketing human-to-human, no matter what niche, field, or profession our clients are in. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, c-suite executives, and other small business owners all have personalities, and want to be entertained as well as informed. We need to appeal to, and trigger, emotions. We have to talk and act like the interesting, passionate humans we are, including on social media.
I’m not saying go wild, curse a blue streak, troll people, ignore all grammar and talk in text-speak. But for heaven’s sake don’t be stuffy and boring. Have a personality that’s congruent with your brand (you have a brand style guide right? With tone and voice? If not, it’s ok – let’s talk and maybe fix that.) Share behind-the-scenes photos of you working on a project. Share your desk – yes, even your messy desk. Do live videos and not freak out if your office isn’t perfect looking (DO have good audio, good lighting, and a nice clear video pic – nothing fuzzy. But tips for videos and Lives are a whole other post, or training course!) Connect personally! Be HUMAN!FREE Social Media Tools Guide
My Go-To Resources and Experts on Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Today
- Social Media Examiner
- Jenn Herman, Instagram expert – Jenn has worked with Agora Pulse on some of their Instagram tests. She busted Instagram myths WAY ahead of anyone else. (and a friend got me in her private Facebook Group on social trends, so now I can ask questions directly! and YOU get the answers.)
- AgoraPulse’s Social Media Lab – this social media scheduling and metrics tool puts up serious money to run social media experiments
- Mari Smith – author, speaker, Facebook expert
- Kissmetrics blog – (while the tool and its independent web page have been absorbed by its parent company, you can still get to the blog here)
- HubSpot’s Marketing blog (they also have ones for Sales, Service)
I regularly check the blogs for the major 3rd party social scheduling tools as they give great advice (not specific to just their app) and because of their access to a TON of data they can run some good tests:
I hope this GOOD social media advice will help you to social media success!
Social media and the tips/rules/guidelines change FAST. That’s one reason I gave you my go-to sources for news, trends, and who can do the big research we can’t. But if you follow the tips I give here, and toss the bad social media advice, you’ll be on your way to more social success.
Want even MORE help? I’m offering a special, quick Smart Social Media Success coaching/training intensive for my solopreneur pals. 2 Days of Coaching/Training, plenty of resources, a chance for Q&A, and ongoing community where you can ask questions and get support. Click the button to check out this limited time offerEven Smarter Social Success