Nobody’s dying words were “I wish I tweeted more.”
There’s no denying the power of social media marketing, but I don’t believe in the hype that it’s a 24/7/365 job, or that you or your employees should be tweeting at late hours until their fingers are raw.
If the only way you can make social media marketing work is by sacrificing your personal life and your free time, I strongly believe you’re going about it the wrong way. You can make a larger impact in a fraction of the time if you start focusing on the right things.
These are four things I think social marketers need to stop wasting their time on, and what they can do instead.
1. You’re Engaging the Wrong People in the Wrong Way
According to a study published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, most people who use Facebook do not use it to connect with people. The two primary reasons people used Facebook? For entertainment and for passing time.
You read that right. Most people don’t use Facebook to connect with people. And this shouldn’t really be all that surprising. Text messages, email, and phone calls are all better suited for real time, back and forth communication.
The marketer who fails to understand why people use social networks will fail to appeal to them properly.
Much of the discussion around social media marketing talks about the importance of “being part of the conversation.” This discussion isn’t exactly wrong, but it does fail to accommodate the majority of the people who use social networks. If most people aren’t even using social networks to communicate with their friends, what are the odds that they want to use it to communicate with a stranger hiding behind a corporate logo?
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t engage in online conversations. It’s to shift focus. A small number of people use social networks for self-expression and communication. These are the only people that you should be making an effort to communicate with. These influencers are the ones producing the content that everybody else uses to entertain themselves with on social networks.
There’s no point trying to build relationships with people who don’t use social networks to build relationships. Build relationships with the influencers, so that you can entertain everybody else on the network more effectively.
2. You Pretend that “Dark Social” Doesn’t Exist
If you really want to be a part of the conversation, it also demands moving beyond social media. According to a study reported on in the Atlantic, roughly 69 percent of social referrals are “dark.” The idea that all the conversations and social sharing online are happening on Facebook and social networks is an outright myth.
The vast majority of it is happening in private emails, instant messengers; you name it, as long as it’s out of the public eye. And why wouldn’t it be that way? Most people don’t like having conversations in public for the whole world to see. Email, instant messages, and texts just “feel” safer to use.
Your parents are on Facebook.
All those channels that people “used” to use before social media are still alive and well and sending more referral traffic than all public social networks combined.
That means if you want to build relationships with influencers, there’s a good chance you’ll do just as well communicating with them via email, Skype, and oh yeah, the phone as you will be communicating with them through social networks. In fact, it’s possible those platforms will be more effective, since they allow for more private, comfortable discussions, better suited for relationship building.
It also means that if you want your content to spread through the largest social channel of all, the only way to do it is with your content. Only genuinely viral content can spread through dark channels. In other words, if everybody who receives the content shares it with an average of less than one person, you’re going to miss out on this massive section of the market.
There are no Facebook algorithms to game down here in the trenches of the internet.
3. You Post Too Often
At least 91 percent of Facebook users have abandoned at least one brand on the network, and 44 percent of them did it because the company posted too often. Unless your posts are wildly entertaining (see point 1), odds are good your consumers don’t want to see too many of them.
When it comes to social networking, quality is so much more important than quantity; there’s no real comparison. Sure, Twitter is an exception to this rule, but Twitter also sends miniscule referral traffic under normal circumstances, and is really a better place to find influencers and build relationships than to directly expand your reach.
How much is too much? There’s no hard and fast rule here. If your niche is incredibly small and there’s no way to broaden it out, you probably shouldn’t be posting more than a few times a week. If all of your posts are brand related, you probably shouldn’t be posting a whole lot more than once a week.
If you’ve truly mastered virality and every post gets shared thousands of times, you should probably go ahead and post several times a day. But I really mean it: don’t post anywhere near that often until you’ve mastered virality. See what we’ve had to say about content marketing for more on this.
If you can’t repeatedly achieve a viral coefficient higher than one, you are probably posting too often, and you should spend more time trying to decide what to post in the first place.
4. You Have No Project Management
Projects spiral out of control and end up wasting time when no management is in place. Few things improve efficiency like a deadline. I don’t believe that you can or should micromanage social media marketing, but I do believe that poor project management results in an enormous waste of time.
First things first: you need project management software. I’d stay away from something complicated like MS Project and would advise an easy software like WorkZone. Overly complicated project management software defeats the purpose if what you’re going for is saved time. I like the cloud-based project management software because it’s built for the kind of collaboration that you would expect from a digital marketer. It’s not designed for strict hierarchies. It’s built for creative projects and perfectly suited to data driven marketing.
Software isn’t enough, of course. Everybody has their own management style, but I believe that agile marketing and related disciplines are best suited to social marketers. Agile marketers evolve with the environment, test everything, experiment, focus on individuals and collaboration, and focus on iterations instead of big design up front.
Stop wasting time with social media and start marketing with it. Your consumers don’t live and breathe social media. Why should you? Market smarter, not harder.