This is why your social media plan is #failing

A while ago I wrote a piece explaining why it’s important, even for new start-ups, to engage in social media presence and gave a rough guide to getting started. However for some of you, the outcome may have been less than favourable. It’s okay, we’ve made a few mistakes too. So let’s take a look at some reasons why your social media plan may be failing.

You’ve only got a social media presence because everyone else has
There’s no point having a Twitter account just for the sake of it. It’s important to have a trackable goal in mind. Work out what you want to achieve with your social accounts. Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or even Snapchat, it’s important to know why you’re there. Is it a tool for your sales team to stay in touch with their clients? Is it a customer service tool? Are you using it purely for company announcements? Social media can be any or all of these things, but it’s important that you know what you’re trying to achieve.

Here at Macropod, we concentrate on just a couple of social platforms, with Twitter being our primary presence. Over a long period of time we’ve worked out that this is where our main audience is and where we get the most interaction from. So rather than try and spread ourselves thin putting in time and work for a small or perhaps non-existent audience, we’ve found much better success in focused efforts. It’s important to ensure that you have the time to put into your chosen channels. There’s no point creating dozens of accounts if you don’t have the time to monitor them or post there effectively. There’s nothing worse than seeing a company Facebook page full of unanswered community questions, with the latest posts from 3 months ago.

This isn't a one horse town ... this is a no horse town

Above anything else, it’s important to be where your audience is. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s something that’s often overlooked when first starting your social campaigns. This means that you shouldn’t be afraid to ignore the major platforms either. Did you know that Macropod doesn’t have a Facebook account for any of its products? It’s true! With all the millions of users and ever-growing amount of time we all spend on Facebook, surely Facebook is a must-have, right? No, not always, and not necessarily for Macropod.

You’re In The Wrong Channels For Your Audience
These days, there are dozens of tools available to you to manage your various platforms (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, etc). We’ve tried and tested countless number of  tools, and have found that Hootsuite is the best fit for us. This can sometimes be a double edged sword. It makes it too easy to be on every single platform, which ends up taking up way too much of your time, often needlessly.

When we had a Facebook page for Bugherd, we got very little success from it. Almost none. All our efforts were there: we made sure our content was relevant to our community members, that it was posted at the right times, that the content was correctly formatted, and everything else we could think of improving. Yet way more important than any of these things was one glaring fact: Facebook is not the platform where our audience is. Twitter is our main form of communication with the rest of our community, because quite simply – that’s where our users are.

You either post too much, or not enough
A common question about SM is how often do you post? Post too much and you’ll risk clogging up people’s feeds, which will cause people to unfollow you. Post too little, and people are more likely to miss the things you do say. A good start to work out if you’re posting too much or too little is to look at the accounts of your successful competitors, and check out what their frequency is to help give you an idea of what their output frequency is. Then, look at who your followers are and find out when they’re most active and make sure you’re posting when they’re online. Once you do that for a while, and you’re getting some replies and interaction from your community, you’ll begin to get more of a feel as to whether your amount of content is appropriate.

If you’re not sure who your competition is, or who some of the “thought leaders” are in your area of business, then there are a range of social media analytic services (personally, I’m a big fan of Followerwonk) that will help be able to help guide you. As well as showing who your audience is, there’s also services that can analyse when your followers are most active online. Here’s a chart from Followerwonk that shows the peak times for our Twitter followers. Being based in Australia but having a large user-base that are primarily based in the US makes for some interesting results. As you can see, most are active at around 3am, 9am, and then 9pm, so it makes sense for us to schedule our content around these times:

followerwonk data bugherd

You don’t know how to talk properly to your audience
I know this sounds really obvious, but when posting online, you should try to mirror the general tone and language of your community and their environment. How you curate your posts when your key target audience are CFOs for Fortune 500 companies will be much different to those of you trying to engage with a target audience of teenagers for your local skate shop. The same should be said about the content that you’re posting. If you’re the skate shop, you could probably get away with the occasional funny image or getting involved with whatever the latest trending meme is. The same may not exactly work when you do that for the Fortune 500 crowd. That’s not to say that CFOs don’t enjoy a good joke or can’t pull a sick 720 backside heel flip, but just keep in mind what the social media platform is, who your audience is and why they’re there.

There are some good, fun ways to interact with your audience:

social media done right

And there are bad ways to interact with your audience:

social media done wrong

Very, very bad ways:

social media done very wrong

Oh god, please stop:

social media done SO WRONG

Please never do that. Ever. It’s easy to laugh at public meltdowns like this, but as someone who looks after social, this is how events like this make me feel:

crying over social media

Which brings us to the next topic…

You don’t know how to properly manage negative reactions
Exposing your company online isn’t always going to be filled with rainbows, hugs and puppies. Regardless of how well-loved your brand is, there will always be someone who hates your product and the mere existence of your company. Thanks to today’s state of social media, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with companies, even for negative reasons. That’s okay though, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

What is important, however, is how you manage this kind of feedback. Ignoring the non-constructive criticisms, or removing the negative comments you receive are two of the basic no-no’s, but there’s a few really basic things you can do to turn it around. The most important thing is to simply be as clear and transparent with your community as much as you can. For example, Bugherd had some pretty serious outages a few months ago that involved us being completely offline for 7 hours. It was a situation that was unfortunately beyond our control, but we felt that the best thing to do was to explain exactly what happened via a very detailed blog post. At first, our users were pretty annoyed (and rightfully so!), but with our regular, and honest updates on our Twitter account, and a follow-up blog post, our users were actually quite grateful for our action and appreciated how we’d handled everything.

So if you’ve made a mistake, admit it, apologise and then move on. If you’re under a hail of negative comments and insults, keep it professional and don’t let it turn into a slinging match. It’s also important to recognise when to get involved in negative conversation. Just because your brand is being mentioned, that doesn’t mean it’s your invitation to join in. A lot of the time, you’ll actually learn more from sitting back and watching a conversation unfold – join in too soon and you’ll risk killing the conversation.

I just came here to read the comments

You’re not putting enough resources into it
One of the great things about social media is that you’re never done with it. To use a sporting cliche, you’re only ever as good as your last game. Except replace “game” with “post”. There’s always ways to improve what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. There’s always more content to read, more content to write, more content to re-post and more ways to improve the way you do these things.

Whether it’s learning the best times to post on Twitter, or learning how to use better keywords on Google+, or simply learning new tips on how to make sure your own content gets as much exposure as possible. Then there’s the time you need to review what’s been done, collate some of the stats and make recommendations for next time, as well as researching what else is going on in your industry. Here’s another favour I want you to do for me: ignore any blog entry that tells you how you can monitor your accounts in “just 10 minutes a day”. Please don’t ever click it, because it’s wrong, it’s the online version of promising “7-minute abs”. Just like keeping in shape, if you want to see results, you need to put in the time and effort.

You’re disappointed because none of your content has gone viral
New users to social media will sometimes have this fantasy that you just need to write something, hit “send” and suddenly you’re surrounded by retweets, shared posts and internet fame. Sadly it doesn’t quite work that way. If anyone says to you that they know how to make content go viral, then they’re straight up lying to you. The main idea around posts going viral is that it’s a naturally evolving thing. You can do some great planning and structure around a certain tweet to make sure your timing is great, that your tweet is clever and appealing to a wide audience, but beyond that, it’s just pure blind luck. For a lot of people that have viral images on Twitter, or wildly popular videos on YouTube, most of them will never be able to revisit that success.

In 2012, K-pop star Psy penned “Gangnam Style”, a song that was originally to be released for the local Korean market. It was later posted on YouTube and garnered over 500,000 views within just the first day, then went on to get so many views that it actually broke YouTube’s view counter, causing them to have to upgrade their software to handle the large numbers that Gangnam Style was racking up. At the time of writing, Gangnam Style has had 2,273,304,612 views. His follow-up tracks have still had some impressive numbers, but still nowhere close to the viral appeal of Gangnam Style. It’s a catchy song, with a great video that encapsulates the “everything in Asia is wacky and kitsch” trope, but trying to pin down the exact reasons why it was such a viral phenomenon is difficult.

psy gangnam style

There are literally millions of social media accounts across various platforms, so focusing on trying to achieve fame on this level is pointless and not an appropriate use of your time. You just need to keep writing the best content you can, both in terms of quality and consistency. It’s also important to get involved with other people in your industry. If you see a conversation happening that you can get involved with, then do so! It’s so easy to see a company Twitter account as just a faceless entity, but like the Taco Bell examples above, you can really build a rapport with your community quite easily. The more engaged they are with you, the more likely they are to read and share the content you post. Finding who some of the main ‘thought leaders’ and influencers are is key to getting your message circulating.

That’s the cool thing about Social Media – it’s an ever evolving thing. There’s always new things to learn, new trends, platforms, techniques and tips people are discovering, and ways to help get the most out of your exposure. Every day is different, but hopefully with a little planning, good content and some hard work, you’ll start to reap the rewards!

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