How Not to Grow Your Brand’s Social Following

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Today, 72% of Americans use some type of social media. And they’re using it regularly: Pew Research Center reports that seven in 10 Facebook users and around six in 10 Instagram users visit the sites at least once a day.

But there’s more: Consumers who connect with brands on social networks are more loyal customers, with nine out of 10 buying from companies they follow (Marketing Dive). And 75% will increase their spending with that brand, a 12% increase year-over-year. 

Love it or hate it, social media is where consumers are—and it’s where your business needs to be. In recent years, social media has exploded onto the scene as a significant growth engine for all types of companies, especially small ones. 

While establishing your brand across multiple social media platforms is an investment, in both time and resources, it’s typically at a lower cost than almost all other marketing tactics. The key to success, of course, is to use it correctly. Social media cannot and should not be an afterthought: To realize the full value of this game-changing tool, companies should make it a priority—and stay active. 

Top 5 mistakes to avoid on social

  1. Figuring it out as you go

In business and in life, we tend to get to our destination faster (and with less bumps) when we have a roadmap. Begin by developing a thoughtful and realistic social media plan—defining your overarching mission, the goals that support your mission, and the specific tactics to help accomplish these goals.

Finally, attach dates and the person(s) responsible for executing the plan. Your strategy, naturally, will evolve in real time based on the ways your audience is responding as well as performance analytics. 

  1. Talking at followers

Social media is not another way to broadcast promotions, products, and services to customers. That’s what ads are for. Instead, treat your networks as a virtual cocktail party and connect with people in a more casual way.

Social media users are more likely to engage with businesses that speak with—and not at—them. Regularly participate in two-way conversations that are lighter in tone, as these platforms are better suited for quick and (when appropriate) fun banter. 

  1. Lacking consistency

Posting and monitoring your pages sporadically—when it’s convenient—will prevent your company from gaining real traction. Prioritize your social strategy, and keep your accounts active by following a content calendar (which outlines the posting date, topic, and any required digital assets) and responding to reviews, comments, and messages in a timely manner. 

  1. Going low

Upholding your brand voice (and high standards) is critical. Because social media is a public forum, users have the ability to leave negative reviews and posts. It can be tempting to ignore these reviews and mirror the emotions of the poster in your response. But this creates a ripple effect of negativity and reflects poorly on your company. In fact, take this opportunity to turn the situation around—and position your business as responsive and quick to make things right—by following this three-step formula:       

  1. Acknowledge the customer’s concerns 
  2. Invite them to take the discussion offline and provide a phone number they can call
  3. Resolve the issue with an apology or, in more extreme cases, a reimbursement of some kind
  1. Ignoring hashtag trends

Depending on the network, hashtags can be a powerful tool for getting your content in front of the right audience. In fact, tweets with hashtags get 200% more engagement than those without. But rather than jumping on a hashtag bandwagon because it’s trending, do your due diligence and understand what the hashtag is actually about. Then, decide if it’s a good fit for your business. Also, limit the number of hashtags you use to prevent posts from being difficult to read or viewed as spam (which reduces exposure). 

When approached strategically, social media will pay dividends for your business—like increased visibility, deeper connections with current and potential customers, expanded brand affinity and, ultimately, converted sales. In today’s digital marketplace, it’s something every company needs to grow. As you’re building a following, remember that slow and steady wins the race. I encourage you to keep going, and, over time, you’ll create an engaged community.