When social media was new, a lot of small-business owners and marketers were excited with the fast growth they experienced in social followers. But social media is maturing, and as it does, growth on certain networks eventually slows.
But never fear—there are ways to reinvigorate your growth. Let’s look at the reasons your social media marketing has stalled, and how you can fix it.
1. You’re in the wrong social networks. The key to a strong social media strategy is alignment between your target audience and the social network where they spend time. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out where your target audience congregates online—such as B2B professionals on LinkedIn. But not always. Don't know where your customers are? Ask them using a short survey. And find out where your competitors are spending time—if they appear to be getting traction, make sure you’re there, too.
2. You don’t follow the 80/20 rule. Today, customers want to see that businesses are on the major social networks—it’s proof you're a “real” company that engages. So it may be important to have a presence on four or five social networks. That doesn’t mean you have to give equal time to them all. Regularly re-calibrate your activities to make sure you’re putting the most effort where most of your target audience is found and that you’re getting the best results.
3. You don’t have a clue what’s working because you don’t analyze data. Don’t assume—always check the data. I was surprised recently when we checked Google Analytics to see which social sites our traffic was coming from—it had changed since the previous year. As social media evolves, it’s crucial to collect and evaluate data to understand:
which social platforms get you the most loyal and targeted followers and fans;
which social platforms convert best; e.g., drive the most traffic back to your site, generate the most email subscribers, or get the most uptake on any promotions;
which techniques are working the best today for engagement (images may have worked best on Facebook last year, but today it may be text updates or videos).
4. You don’t play to your brand strengths. The companies that are most successful at social media find a way to make it an extension of their mission and brand. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If your company is known for being fun and light-hearted, then be that way. But if your company or personal brand is more about credibility and gravitas, then don’t post a constant stream of funny meme images.
Ask yourself: Why do customers value my company outside of social media? Is it because you share Grumpy Cat images 24/7, or is it because you offer reliable solutions that help them run their businesses better? Yes, it’s OK to share the occasional funny image, but don’t let it supplant what customers value from you.
5. Your social updates look like they’re on autopilot. Automation in social media is great. You just don’t want to look like everything is automated. Followers are turned off if they think there’s no person behind the curtain. The trick is to use automation in a way that isn’t super obvious. You can have your blog feed automatically posted to Twitter or Facebook, but don’t forget to respond to updates mentioning you, manually tweet other people’s stuff, share images on Pinterest and mix in similar personalized activity.
6. Your content marketing strategy is weak. Without content, you have little for your audience to engage around on social media. When I see businesses that are off the mark on their social activities, often the underlying problem is content. They haven’t thought through how to develop content, how to repurpose their existing content, how to find third-party content to curate and how to share it in an interesting way.
Update your blog more frequently, grab some of those case studies from your website, create slideshows from old presentations, take some photos or film a 2-minute video of a new product. Supplement those with some third-party content that you curate. Now you have plenty of material with which to update your social channels and start conversations.
7. You haven’t kept up on changes in social platforms. Social platforms change their features, layouts and algorithms all the time. You’ve got to keep up with the changes and what they mean to you. For instance, Twitter recently has become much more visual, allowing you to post images directly (not just links to images), and those posts are getting excellent engagement.
8. You’re not taking advantage of paid media. Have you heard of the marketing POEM—Paid, Owned and Earned Media? Today’s savvy marketers realize they have to combine all three types of media into an integrated strategy. They must create some of their own content, pay for media promotion, in order to earn voluntary social media shares by followers. Most of the social platforms now offer some sort of sponsored promotions. The options tend to be affordable. For example, you can promote a Facebook update for less than $50. Make sure your strategy includes a mix of your own content that you then pay to promote in order to get it seen more widely and earn more social shares by followers.
9. You bought followers instead of earning them. If you went to one of those spammy sites online and bought followers, you may see the social networks literally deleting followers from your account. Even if you didn’t buy followers but somehow ended up with spammy followers (perhaps they followed you in the hopes you’d follow back), you may see your numbers actually decline. Don’t panic; get creative. Make it fun to tweet out individual quotes from that great free downloadable e-book you gave them, or offer Facebook-only discounts in order to entice people to follow your Facebook Page, or some other meaningful enticement.
10. You aren’t paying enough attention to social media. Finally, the biggest reason your social following may not be growing is that you haven't made it an important part of your strategy. You haven’t set goals. You’ve haven’t communicated to your team that it’s important. You haven’t put resources toward it. Recognizing social media is important as part of your total marketing outreach is the first step; now it's time to walk the talk. It’s like anything else in your business: If you do not make it a priority, it won’t be one.
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