Succumb to the seven deadly sins of social media marketing

According to the experts there are loads of things you ‘shouldn’t be doing’ on social media as a small to medium business. But let’s be honest: being good is boring.

The truth is, that none of us are perfect all of the time. We’re all complex creatures with vices and virtues. And as much as we might want to be pure, it’s just so gosh darn easy to ssslip every now and again. Being evil is jusssst sssso delicioussss….

So go on. Take a bite of that apple. Give into temptation. Because when it comes to social media marketing, there’s always room for a little wickednessssss.

The Sin of GREED: Or Putting Money Before People

Let’s get this out the way first. Social media is SOCIAL. Imagine stepping into a house party, and announcing to the room that you have an incredible product for an incredible price.

(We’re not talking about paid advertising here, which has its own issues around trust. We’re talking about normal posts in which you focus on selling your wares.)

You’d probably find yourself standing alone in the corner for the rest of the evening, sadly nursing a plastic cup of warm punch.

Advertising infiltrates every corner of our life, and people certainly don’t dip into social media to be exposed to even more.

The ssserpent sssays: That being said… It’s fine in moderation. You’re a business account after all. The 80/20 rule is about right: That’s 80% good content, and 20% marketing. And when you do choose to advertise, focus on the benefits rather than the product itself.

The Sin of GLUTTONY: Or Hungering For Retweets

We all want our content to be shared. It’s disheartening to write the POST OF THE CENTURY and see tumbleweeds where you wanted retweets. It can be tempting to want to ask people to repost within the original post itself. (‘Please RT!’)

We’d suggest you don’t. It can come across as a little desperate, and people don’t always like having an obligation thrust on them – because if they did share it, their own online brand and reputation would be put at stake too. Usually such a request would be reserved for signal-boosting good causes.

It’s far better to post high quality content that people will WANT to share – rather than feeling pressured to do so.

The ssserpent sssays: Oh shush. It’s OK to ask for people to share your posts every now and again. For businesses it’s especially acceptable if you’re posting about an offer or promotion that people might genuinely enjoy or benefit from.

The Sin of ENVY: or Coveting A Competitor’s Account

Social media begets jealousy. We all know about how it creates the illusion that other people are far more productive or successful than us. And it’s for reasons like this that social media can be damaging to our mental health.

When it comes to small and medium businesses, we can find ourselves with green eyes when a competitor appears to be having huge success with their social media engagement. This may even lead to attempts to replicate their social media presence.

This is not a great strategy. You have your own brand, and your unique voice – so try instead to focus on what you do best, instead of imitating others.

The ssserpent sssays: May I disagree for a moment? It is actually an excellent idea to analyse other accounts as part of your competitor research. Rather than copying what they do, try to understand the techniques that they use and assess what gets good engagement. This’ll help you think about how you could apply and adapt the same techniques while retaining your own online personality and individuality.

Go on! Eat up all that tasty knowledge. Yum!

The Sin of PRIDE: Or Making It All About You

Social is not a one-way stream of self-promotion. It’s a conversation. Even if you have a really great company worth shouting about (which you do!) if you’re only ever talking about yourself, then you’re only doing half the job – if that.

Plan time into your social media activity to see what’s happening in your sector on social, and among your followers and the people you follow. Engage with them, and join discussions. Lift up other accounts that you admire. Be generous and supportive. Fairly soon, you should find other people doing the same for you.

The ssserpent sssays: Indulge me for a moment… While constant bragging is not recommended, I don’t see why you shouldn’t highlight your business achievements and recognise your own hard work on occasion. Think about how you can celebrate successes on social media in a way that endorses people you’ve worked with, or provides helpful case studies for the people following you.

The Sin of SLOTH: or Only Ever Reposting Other People’s Content

So you’re interacting with followers and the people you follow. Fantastic. But what content are you putting out? If all you’re doing is reposting and retweeting what other people post, you might come across as disengaged or lazy. Anyone who browses your account might decide not to follow you if all you seem to do is regurgitate content.

Take some time to put together a content plan, so that you’ll always have ideas for original material to post. If you do want to share other contents from other accounts, provide a comment to accompany it that provides context, or gives your own spin on it in your own voice. If you post a news article, add your insight or critiques. Let people in on your valuable perspectives.

The ssserpent sssays: Nonsensssse. It’s fine to repost without comment on occasion: usually when the post itself is completely self-contained and self-explanatory, or it would feel glib or extraneous to add your own comment to it. Posts which are ‘just for fun’ are definitely fine to share as they are.

The Sin Of LUST: Or Wanting All Of The Followers

There are people out there who do it all the time. They follow accounts indiscriminately, in the hope that those accounts will follow them back. And, actually, some of those free and easy people seem to do well out of it.

But it’s filthy, and shameful, and you should not do it. And here’s why. Imagine someone looking at your profile, and seeing that you follow 10,000 accounts, while you have just – say – 10 followers. That ratio is all wrong, and will suggest you have a low-quality account.

Also, when a business account follows you, and you can’t understand how you might ever be interested in their services, it feels cheap, and (probably) damages their reputation in your eyes.

It’s far better to make connections in organic, natural ways through valuable interactions that help to build relationships.

The ssserpent sssays: Sssserioussly? There’s no reason however why you can’t go on a following binge. Just make sure you’re targeting your intended audience. Think about the types of people and sectors you want to engage, and use search parameters to seek out those demongraphics – sorry, I meant demographics. If there’s a clear link between what you offer and their own interests, you’ll increase the chances of them following you back.

The Sin of WRATH: Or Getting Irate in Interactions

Social media = free comment. People can and will say what they want, if the platform allows it. Unfortunately, this means you might hear of a negative review or a complaint about your company.

You may disagree with the review. You may think they’re being unfair. But to respond with anger or sarcasm is the wrong way to go about it. Even if your rage is righteous, your reputation could still take a battering, and other potential clients could be put off ever working with you.

Instead, try to be understanding and diplomatic. Get to the core of their issue, rather than responding with knee-jerk fury. If it looks like the issue can’t be quickly resolved there and then, invite them to take the conversation offline by contacting you directly. This will demonstrate that you take their concern seriously, while preventing further negativity from clouding your feed.

The ssserpent sssays: …Actually, I can’t think of any situation where getting angry on social is a helpful thing for a business. Even I wouldn’t go there, and I’m basically pure evil.

Know the rules, then break ’em.

So how was that? Feeling good about being able to sin a little? As the above hopefully shows, social media management isn’t just about ‘posting stuff’ – it’s about careful consideration of content sensitivities, ongoing navigation of complexities, ascertaining moods and nuances, and an understanding of when it’s OK to break the rules a little.

In short, it requires a time and commitment. And if that feels like more than you can take on right now, then I would love to help out. I can help to plan your content strategy, or even look after your social accounts.

Get in touch for a chat today – there’s ssso much that we can dissscussssss.

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