Social Media Marketing: 3 Important Pitfalls To Avoid

In the current marketing environment, social media seems to reign supreme. But it’s a confusing environment, and for those with no background in the field it’s very easy to make some common mistakes. We’ve built a list of those mistakes, with tips on how to avoid them:

Failing to Plan

The easiest of all pitfalls to encounter also happens to be the easiest to avoid! Those that fail to properly plan their social media marketing strategy are those that often end up wasting hundreds of dollars and hours with unsuccessful campaigns. Here’s a few things to make sure your plan covers:

1) Your target audience. Really narrow down your target customer. What do they like and dislike? What influences them? What expansion tactics are they most likely to engage with? How can you best reach them? If your audience is 20-something women, for example, recognize that the trend is bringing them towards Instagram and away from Facebook and adjust accordingly.

2) Your content type. What’s the aim of the content you’re providing? Is it to entertain, to motivate, to educate, or something else entirely? Focus on the *value* you’re providing to those that follow your accounts.

3) Your goals. At what rate do you plan to increase your follower/like count? How do you plan to do this? Will you use bots to mass follow and like, or focus on organic growth? Which influencers will you pay to promote your content and brand, if any?

4) Your posting frequency. Keep reading for more on this!

5) Your budget. With the popularity of Facebook ads and Instagram now offering sponsored content, many will be tempted to pay for ads directly through the platform. But this may not be the most cost-effective option! Often, if you can identify influencers who are willing to promote your brand through paid shout-outs, these forms of advertising can be cheaper while converting at a much higher rate. Get creative!

Irregular Posting Habits

Would you subscribe to a newspaper that delivered on random days at random hours? What about magazines that came some months and not others? Of course not. Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t understand that the same content principles apply to their social media marketing strategy as well. People like regularity, especially in content delivery. If they know they can expect new content from you twice a day, every day, they’ll learn to expect and anticipate it, making your job that much easier! Conversely, if you only post at random times, your audience will be far less receptive to what you have to say.

Using it Only to Sell

If we go back to the magazine example, would you subscribe if it was filled with nothing but advertisements and no real content? Again, the answer should be absolutely not. The same applies to your pages. If every post is a desperate plea to buy your product, there’s no real incentive for potential customers to follow you. Plan to promote your products intermittently, but focus the majority of your posts on real, valuable content.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but covers the majority of beginner mistakes. Always be on the lookout for ways to refine your strategy, and never be afraid to experiment with something new!

Instagram Marketing: Cracking the Code

By now, everyone knows just how important Instagram marketing is to business success. Unfortunately, the explosion of its popularity and resulting market saturation has made it increasingly difficult to break through and make your presence known.

So what do the best Instagram marketers know that you don’t? Read on to find out:

Yes, Your Pictures Are Important

All too often, businesses somehow forget that Instagram is based on visuals, and halfheartedly post low-quality, boring images. Then they’re surprised when their engagement is abhorrent!

Posting high-quality, engaging images both reinforces your brand quality and drives potential interaction with your target market. Here’s some tips on choosing and posting photos:

Edit Them

Canva.com (no affiliation) is a free online photo editor that’s perfect for creating your Instagram content. You can select from their many free templates, or start from scratch. You can import your own images, or pay a small fee to use their extensive stock photography collection. Spend some time playing around with the tool and you’ll be creating professional-grade posts in no time!

Expand Your Horizons

Say you’re a canvas manufacturing company. Are you only allowed to post pictures of paper? Absolutely not! Define your target market, and come up with a list of subjects they care about. If you focus on selling to the amateur artist community, for example, post quotes directed at artists (#relatable), customer photos of your canvases in use, wacky modern art (with permission), links to resources for your customers…the list goes on! Don’t be afraid to post about things that might not directly relate to your product; your goal is to provide value to your target customer, whoever they are.

Don’t Be Greedy

If every single one of your posts is a request to visit your site or purchase a product, do you think you’ll keep your audience engaged? Of course not, no one likes being sold to 24/7. Instead, provide them with fun, valuable content, and sprinkle in a few special offers. Recommendations vary amongst professionals, but aim for 1 promotional for every 5-8 sales-free posts.

Captions and Hashtags: Don’t Waste the Opportunity

But wait, you might be saying, isn’t Instagram a visual platform? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore these two growth tools:

Captions

Captions are the perfect way to drive organic growth of your following. Notice how the biggest pages often tell their followers to “tag your mate that always does this” or “tag who you’d love to do this with?” By directly inviting your audience to interact with the content, you’re increasing the chances that they actually will! Ask for their thoughts on a discussion topic (“where do you get your inspiration from?” for the canvas company example), call them to tag a friend that could relate to a quote, or tell them to double-tap if they agree with a statement.

Hashtags

Everyone knows what they are, and almost no one understands them. Hashtags are identifiers as to the type of content contained in your post, and a powerful discovery tool. Identify the most relevant 10-15 hashtags to your brand (for the canvas company, things like #artsy and #creative, for example) and stick to them. But don’t add them to your caption! It clutters the image and looks spammy. Instead, post the caption alone, then add a comment with your hashtag list. After a day or so, delete the comment. You’ll still make an appearance whenever someone searches for your tags, but can clean up your profile when it gets pushed too far down the results.

Get Creative!

instagram app photo

This is perhaps the most important item on our list. Don’t be limited by what others are doing! Try new things for engagement, record the results, and adjust as necessary. For example, our hypothetical canvas company could run a promotion that everyone who tags a friend on a certain post gets one entry into a sweepstakes for free canvases for a year. You can cap entries per person, or let them run wild and bring as many friends into the fold as possible. There really is not limit to what you can try, so let your creativity run wild and watch your following skyrocket.

By now, you should have an understanding of Instagram strategy that’s better than 90% of your competitors. Focus on providing real value to your audience, and they’ll respond with higher levels of engagement and conversions. Good luck!