By: Brett Gleeson, co-authored with Devon Gardner
Over the past several years, social media has established itself as a core marketing practice, earning a place at the table with other digital marketing and public relations strategies. Many of today’s social media managers have years of experience navigating these channels and their unique best practices, and should be moving away from the ineffective social media habits listed below. If they are still happening in your organization, make a New Year’s resolution to remove them and start adopting better practices.
The five things you should no longer be doing in social media marketing in 2016 are:
1 – Not Tracking Your Links
Everyone wants to know the value of social media marketing. One of the best ways to measure its worth is knowing which social media posts are bringing the highest volume of (and most qualified) traffic to your website. Brands are still frequently posting untracked or shortened links back to their website, therefore only measuring how many visitors came from each social media channel or how many clicks each link received. Tracking your links with something like Google Analytics’ URL Builder will allow you to see how much traffic came from each post you shared and the quality of that traffic with metrics such as bounce rate, average session duration and average pages viewed per session. This will allow you to better analyze the success of individual social media posts, which can then be used to create better future content. It takes a bit more time, but if measuring and improving your social media efforts is important to your company, this should be too.
2 – Auto-Posting from Facebook to Twitter
We hate to admit that we still see this these days. With tools such as Buffer, HootSuite, Sprout Social and several others that allow easy sharing across multiple social channels this should no longer be happening. First, it’s not an ideal experience for your audiences as they generally differ slightly per channel, requiring modified messaging. Second, the formats of the social channels themselves have different requirements and best practices in terms of posts. Facebook posts that are auto-shared to Twitter are often cut off and missing images, presenting an unpolished and unprofessional appearance to your followers.
3 - Not Using Correct Image Specifications or Optimizing Open Graph Tags
Ever seen a Facebook post that just looks plain ugly or spammy? That is what happens when brands are lackadaisical about creating images without the proper specs or optimizing the Open Graph tags on their website. Visuals are becoming increasingly important for social media success, as seen by the emergence and growth of visually-oriented social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest. According to a study done by MIT, brains can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, which is much faster than text.
4 – Talking At Your Customers, Not With Them
Believing that social media is like “free advertising” and a place where you can push out your messaging is a myth to be dispelled in 2016. Stop posting only about your brand, and start using social media for what it was intended: communication between humans. Imagine if you went to a holiday party this year and only talked about yourself and your “selling points.” Unless you’re Justin Bieber, chances are people will leave your conversation within a matter of minutes. Now imagine if you engaged in the conversation by asking people about themselves, making them look or sound great, and providing interesting value to the conversation? Apply those same concepts to your social media marketing plan in 2016. Ask your audience questions, reply to their comments, and proactively engage with people on channels like Twitter and Instagram who have similar interests as your brand in a genuine manner. You’ll see your engagement, sentiment and audience grow.
5 – Depending Solely on Organic Reach
Sadly, not all of your brand’s social media messages will get seen by your followers or other relevant audiences without putting some advertising dollars behind them. This is particularly important on Facebook, where brands see little reach without promoting their posts. If you spend all that time creating the post, it is worth putting a little spend behind it to make sure it’s actually seen. In 2016, set aside a budget particularly for social media advertising to help your posts get the impact they deserve.