Five social media marketing mistakes your business should avoid

The number of social media users is growing rapidly across Africa, providing immense opportunities for businesses to communicate with their clients.

Francis Waithaka, a social media strategist reckons that in this digital age where most consumers are tech-savvy, it is important for marketing departments to allocate a certain percentage of their budget to digital marketing in order to be relevant in a competitive marketing landscape.

Most businesses and corporate firms are using Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, among other social media platforms, to reach their customers. Embracing social media enables businesses to reach out to new customers as well as engage with the loyal ones. However, not all brands have mastered online interaction. Here are five common social media marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Lack of strategy

Every business should have a clear strategy of what it wants to achieve by using social media as a marketing channel. Evaluating who your target audience is will enable you to decide which social media platform is suitable and what kind of information can be shared online.

“The benefit of being on social media for a business is earning customers’ loyalty and trust. This happens if you have a clear strategy that responds swiftly to queries and serves customers well,” says Waithaka.

2. Too much monologue

Marketers need to keep in mind the ‘social’ in social media. As tempting as it might be to just post announcements about price cuts, launches and benefits of your products, marketers should also ensure to engage consumers in discussions.

“Social media is not a monologue. It is a dialogue. It is conversational. You get loyalty and trust from your online community by constantly engaging them. You can’t just create a Facebook profile and abandon it or just push messages. There is always a cause and effect. When you post content, expect reactions from your audience and respond to them swiftly,” advises Waithaka.

3. Ignoring negative comments

When faced with negative feedback via social media, businesses should provide accurate and reliable answers. It is critical to respond to negative comments, but while at it, be professional, respectful and stick to the facts.

“Never delete a negative comment from a customer, it could be a great source of learning. If you convert an angry customer into a happy one, he/she becomes your online evangelist or advocate,” notes Waithaka.

4. Neglecting social media accounts

One common mistake many businesses make is to open a social media account, set up their profile and disappear. If you choose to use social media for marketing then you have to be ‘on’ at all times and maintain consistency.

“Social media requires constant monitoring and surveillance for any positive or negative brand mentions. If you do not do a 360 real-time surveillance on social platforms, you risk losing a lot of brand reputation, goodwill and business opportunities, which cannot be measured. A brand must constantly be on top of the game,” says Waithaka.

5. Inadequate foot soldiers

Who is the face of your business online? You can either outsource by hiring an agency to manage your social media accounts or handle it internally.

Waithaka advises that capacity building for staff should be the first step if a business decides to do social media marketing internally. You need someone who has your brand DNA to be your face on social networks.

You should also have a policy on what kind of information should be posted on your brand’s official social media account. Posting personal photographs and information as well as political views on an official business account is a big mistake that will only ruin your image.