Here at Three Girls Media, we work hard to offer only the best and most helpful advice when it comes to social media marketing. We choose our resources carefully, draw from experience and pay attention to the best of what’s out there. In that process, we do come across some really, well, misguided thoughts on the subject. Fortunately, you can still learn from bad advice. Here’s some of the worst of it:
Bad Advice: “Find a business you admire, use their branding as a template, and follow it to the letter.”
There is nothing wrong with eyeing another business’ style, especially when you’re first starting out or refreshing your own brand. However, that successful company probably has a lot of strategy and history behind why they do things the way they do.
For example, Elsie Larson was a scrapbooking blogger before she and her sister started the DIY social media empire, A Beautiful Mess. The company has a decade of branding and rebranding under its belt—if you tried to carbon-copy its Instagram and blog style, you’d come off looking inauthentic and flat.
Better Alternative: Make a list of businesses or influencers with social media channels that inspire you. Then, figure out what specific aspects you like the most. Maybe you wish you took more time for product photography, or did more follower giveaways. Make a mood board of what inspires you, and create something new from it. Don’t fear inspiration, and don’t rip anyone off.
Bad Advice: “Publish as often as you can, to keep your brand top-of-mind.”
While it may be tempting to churn out as much content as possible, it is also possible to burn out your brand’s followers and come across as pushy, or even weird. What your audiences will really be feeling is overwhelmed and flooded with information, which will manifest in irritation and even resentment toward your brand. You will become more likely to get a dreaded “mute” or “unfollow,” and your followers will not be willing to absorb the nuggets of material you’re trying to share.
Better Alternative: If you’re excited to share and just can’t wait, load your posts into a scheduling tool like Hootsuite. This will tickle the part of your brain that wants to publish everything at once, while pacing things out in effective intervals. If you’re concerned about when your followers will see your content, consider our next tip.
Bad Advice: “Publish at the same time every day for consistency.”
This is a piece of advice that probably worked just fine a decade ago, when social media was a very different place and we didn’t have access to reliable analytics. It’s like appointment television: before streaming services, people sat and waited for their favorite show to come on TV. Even in the early days of blogging, people anticipated their favorite bloggers publishing new posts at a certain time. This is a great idea, but most of your followers aren’t going to think about it that way.
Better Alternative: It makes a lot more sense to trust modern analytics to tell us about our followers’ habits than it is to create a fixed point and hope they embrace it. Remember to look at your analytic reports at least once a month (a lot of sites dump old reports after 30 days) and make notes of what was going on during spikes in activity. Check out the times most of your followers are online, what they liked the most in previous weeks and what they’re commenting. Rather than making your followers revolve around you, try reasonably revolving around them.
Bad Advice: “Use one of the following pre-formulated answers when interacting with followers…”
It can be tempting to do everything you can to avoid any kind of PR missteps, viral embarrassment or criticism by eliminating risk. However, responding to customers with formulaic answers (even if you think they sound personable) will make your company sound like it’s helmed by robots, and can leave a bad taste in commenters’ mouths. If every response to customer comments is one of five options, your customers will catch on to what you’re doing, and it’s going to leave them feeling like you don’t care enough to actually interact with them.
Better Alternative: Excellent customer service involves getting to know the customer. The best way to do that is to simply be polite, personable and professional without repeating the same phrases over and over. If they left their name, use it in your response.
If you’re concerned about employees crossing a line, draw up guidelines for interacting with customers so that everyone is on their best behavior (e.g. no swearing, no politics, etc.). Just remember that your customers and followers are using social media as individuals, and this is their way of interacting with you on a human level.
Bad Advice: “If it’s a business account, every post should be all about the business.”
We talk about the 80/20 rule on our blog all the time, but it’s extremely important when managing a social media account. If every post screams, “Me, me, me!” you’re going to lose followers fast, or just never gain traction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve followed an account because I liked the brand, only to unfollow soon after because the account was just so dry and self-centered.
Better Alternative: Followers don’t just want to see new products, they want to learn, be entertained, get a peek behind the curtain and so much more! As the social media manager, you get to feature all those different warm-up acts before giving your audience a taste of the main attraction. It’s the difference between five incredible minutes of comedy and a droning lecture with a few jokes thrown in.
Bad Advice: “Like and follow whoever and whatever you want; no one looks at that stuff anyway.”
Instagram did recently remove users’ ability to see what their friends like and follow, but it’s still possible to see what others are doing on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. There are no shortage of cautionary tales detailing what happened when people decided to snoop on the activities of politicians, spouses and even brands. One false move can alter your followers’ perception of you and your brand, so it’s best to be cautious.
Better Alternative: Be present. Remember where you are when you’re on the company account. Don’t browse like you would on your personal account, and remember to always like and follow with the brand in mind. A good strategy is to like and follow brands and influencers who align with your brand’s culture and mission. Keep your wits about you, and speak with the voice of the brand while representing it on social media.
Bad Advice: “Your audience isn’t on LinkedIn, so you can just ignore it.”
For starters, no business should be avoiding LinkedIn. There are definitely individual creatives out there who don’t believe it’s a necessary place to have a presence, but the majority of professionals look to LinkedIn for networking opportunities.
Better Alternative: Your business will attract more professional attention by being present on LinkedIn, especially when it comes time to expand your staff. Plus, it gives you a great opportunity to follow brands you admire and see how the people behind them manage their social presence. LinkedIn is a great place to learn from others and grow your business at the same time.
The advice could go on, but here’s the wrap-up: well-managed social media doesn’t live in the extreme. A lot of these pieces of questionable advice focus on “always” and “never” statements, but moderation and strategy are crucial to the success of your brand’s online presence.
Looking for more advice to optimize your social media and take your marketing strategy to the next level? Click here to book a complimentary consultation with our CEO, Erika Taylor-Montgomery. In the meantime, take a peek at these posts from our social media experts:
- Video: How To Protect Your Brand’s Image On Social Media
- 7 Business Uses For Social Media Marketing
- Effy Says… Watch For Changes On Social Media Platforms!
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