Social media is one of the best tools you have for connecting with consumers and amplifying your brand. But too often we see companies failing to meet their potential without even realizing it. The truth of the matter? You can write compelling copy or post striking visuals and still have serious gaps in your social media campaign, bypassing significant chances for growth.
We get it. The dynamic, always-on nature of social media can make it difficult to hit all the marks. But there is a lot to be gained by taking a step back, and understanding some of the common social media pitfalls—so you can begin identifying and overcoming gaps in your own online presence.
Breaking Down the Elements
Let’s start by breaking down social media management into a few categories where you might begin to identify gaps.
- You have the copy—the writing attached to your posts, and its level of detail, tone, etc.
- Then there are your visuals, whether that is photos, gifs, videos, or graphics.
- You have strategy, which encompasses what days/times you’re posting, which hashtags you’re using, any social media groups you’re posting in, and so on.
- There is community management, like responding to comments or concerns, or creating space for the community to participate in your content.
- And lastly, engagement—the act of liking, sharing, and commenting on content from partners, users, prospective clients, etc.
Once you understand these basic elements, you can begin to identify the ways in which each shows up (or doesn’t) in your social media presence. Take stock of how each fits into your online picture. Is one element lacking, or perhaps missing altogether? Make a note of that.
Now, let’s dive deeper into your purpose or reason for being on social media, and how that plays into the content you create.
7 Ways to Identify and Bridge a Social Media Gap
What’s Your Purpose?
It’s easy to write a sentence about your company and hit publish. It’s harder to craft content that truly serves people. With the sheer amount of material on social media platforms these days, people need a good reason to pay attention to, and engage with, your content. Are you giving it to them? If the answer is yes—great. If the answer is no—it’s important to start working back from your audience. For example, whether you’re interacting with a business community or a consumer community will have major implications for the way you develop content. As will whether you’re reaching them with a product or a service. Identify who they are and try to understand what they truly need. If you can do that, you can craft your content accordingly and begin to overcome the common social media gap of “just putting things out there”.
Social, not Siloed
Is your social media strategy deeply and effectively integrated with your marketing plan? If you plan your creative, plan your web copy, plan your newsletters, but leave social media to figure itself out, you’re leaving opportunities on the table. Integrating your social media with the rest of your marketing plan is crucial.
Used right, social channels have the potential to unify and amplify your marketing content. But they need to be thought of as part of a holistic PR and marketing plan. That means considering how things like content and tone flow across your marketing, and how social media can pair with things like thought leadership, case studies, blogs, and PR campaigns. Failing to do this not only forgoes opportunities in cross promotion, but can leave your audience without a clear sense of your identity, mission, and brand voice.
Trial and error can be an inevitable part of social media. What we don’t want is plain old error.
For example, you can be putting in the effort to post every day, but if you’re posting at 9am when your audience is most active at 9pm, you’re going to see subprime results. Or maybe you’re posting great content to your feeds, but your community is much more story-oriented. Considering these different elements that go beyond the content itself, and adjusting accordingly, can help you max out your results.
Another strategy pitfall we see all too often—hashtags. Even if you’re using hashtags, you should be consistently asking yourself if you’re using them effectively. For example, if your post says:
“Being #problemsolvers is what we do best. See how we used #virtualreality and #realtimerendering to drive #results on a #budget for our client.”
Can you guess which hashtags in this sentence are and aren’t effective? While you might be a problem solver who drives results on a budget, none of those hashtags will be targeted enough to get in front of people in your industry. However, terms like “virtual reality” and “real-time rendering” will get in front of those people effectively.
The dynamic nature of social platforms means that it’s okay if your content doesn’t get massive engagement right off the bat. But you should be constantly thinking about all the small tweaks that could make a big difference in the end.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Social media is both completely about you and not about you at all. You can be sending great content out into the world, but it must be paired with proactive engagement in your communities. That means liking, sharing, and commenting on posts in an intentional, consistent way.
Think about social media as one big room. If a key partner or ally walks in and acknowledges you, would you ignore them or say hello? If a new business lead expressed interest in your product—would you leave them be, or reach out and affirm a relationship?
Social media is no different. Fill that gap.
Just as it’s important to look forward and plan your content, you need to be able to tear it down in a moment’s notice.
Let’s start with tools. When a social media platform rolls out a new feature, they want you to use it. That means it’s likely going to be something with some algorithm-friendly amo behind it. And that means you should get on it. It’s best to not wait for it to hit your app either. Keep an eye on social media websites like Social Media Today so you can go in with a plan.
Another component of a flexible strategy is being able to pivot your message. 2020 was a perfect example of brands needing to adjust their copy at a moment’s notice, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests across the world, and record wildfires in the West, to name a few. You don’t need to comment on every world event, but not stopping to reevaluate can be a huge mistake, making you seem out of touch and even offensive.
Reporting With a Reason
Reporting is an essential part of social media, but if it’s not actively informing your next steps, you’re leaving a lot on the table. It’s worth considering tools that can help you break down the numbers here. At Liaison, we use Sendible to help pull data from social platforms and visualize metrics like followers, reach, and engagement, as well as review demographic data to help us better understand our audience. We can then revisit that data on a monthly basis to understand what worked, what didn’t, and how to pivot.
You can also consider other reporting tactics like UTM tags, which allow you to see how your links are performing on different platforms. If you’re not getting many link clicks, maybe you’re not giving people enough information to make them want to click, or maybe you’re giving them too much that they don’t have a reason to learn more. Try to experiment with language that’s more fun, or create copy with a little more mystery. Then next month, look at the data, see what worked, and refine from there.
While we caution against putting too much stock in what your competitors are doing, it also may be worth familiarizing yourself with their channels and seeing, at a glance, where and how they are receiving engagement.
Consider Paid Social
The last gap we see all too often is neglecting paid social. You can have a spectacular organic content stream, with the strategy to match, but still be missing out on a big opportunity here.
Despite its name, paid social can be a bang for your buck when it comes to growing your audience or collecting leads. It can feel too hard, too complicated, and or just not necessary. But we’ve seen the rewards, and you owe it to your brand to consider it.
A good place to begin—think about your goals offline. Do you want to build your brand’s credibility? Or grow the community you engage with? More than likely, there’s a paid social plan that will support that.
Bringing it All Together
Mastering every aspect of social media, then tailoring it to your brand, can require you wearing several (okay, maybe 100) hats. But the complexity of social media is matched only by its opportunities. When you can learn what your brand is lacking, you can unlock new potential to grow your reach and meet your goals.
Want to start building your biggest social campaign yet? Let’s chat.