Social media marketing takes way more time and thought than most people realize.

If you’re using social media to connect with friends and family, then social media marketing can be thoughtless. But as a business tool or a marketing strategy, it has to be precise.

At the end of the day, it’s just one piece of the overall puzzle, and it’s just one channel. The key for business owners is to understand what they’re doing wrong, then double down on what they’re doing right.

What companies are getting wrong with social media marketing

Most companies see social media as a place to mass-market. They see it as a platform of people just waiting for them. They think that they need to be there as a way to attract an audience to their business.

This line of thinking is completely misguided — they’re not thinking about how to engage them and how to use it as a content tool.

Without getting the foundation right, without understanding how the audience wants companies to interact with them, most are just spinning their wheels. The biggest mistake business owners make is to create a social media account and then fail to think about the customer’s journey and what happens once they click through to the company website.

There is a false sense of security in thinking that if you create all these social media accounts—LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on—then you will be able to be everywhere at once.

But the reality is that you can’t be everywhere, and you shouldn’t be everywhere. And trying to be everywhere at once means you’re never fully present in any one place.

The downfall to trying to be on every single channel—and not doing any one of them particularly well—is that when people do find you there, they’re going to be let down. You haven’t done anything to help yourself stand out.

People think that because there are all these online tools, each social media account is a faceless and nameless entity—just a digital extension of the brand. But what they forget is that there is a personal aspect to this.

Social media can be an incredibly strong marketing tool for your business — when it’s done right.

How you should really be using social media

Social media should be a place to learn, get educated, and share.

You have to look at the spectrum of tools available to you and be realistic about the purpose of each. In its simplest sense, social media marketing is for companies to be noticed. It is a great way to communicate directly with your customer base, to listen to what they’re saying, and to get feedback in real time.

For customers, it’s a way to find out more about you (and your business), to get a sense of what you’re all about, and to see what others are saying to, about, or with you. How that goes then determines if they’ll take the next step with you.

If they want to learn more and if they’re interested, then they’ll take action by going to your website or reaching out to salespeople or reading your blog posts.

BE WHERE YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE

Start with the buyer journey. Map out how someone buys a product or service like yours, and decide what role social media plays in that journey.

Understanding where your customers are and why they’re there is integral to creating a connection with them. In order to do this, you must understand three distinct marketing channels.

1. Owned Channels:

This is a channel that you have complete control over. It’s your website, your newsletter, your blog—all things where you can control the story in its entirety. You can manage the vision, and you can select which stories you want to tell. You own this space.

It’s a space people expect you to have. Every business today needs a website in order to be relevant. When people are looking for you (or for companies like you), they’re going to see what you have on your website and if it’s intriguing or appealing. If it is, they might sign up for something. You control the entire process.

2. Rented Channels:

This channel has some level of ownership, but not entirely. This is where social media falls. You may be able to create the Twitter account, and have control over what you post, but you have no way to control what others say about you here.

3. Paid Channels:

In this channel, you can be very specific about where you want to be by using things like AdWords or sponsored links on Google, other sponsored content, or even ad targeting. Because customers know and can see that you’ve paid for placement, this space can feel inauthentic.

All of these channels are important in their own right, but it’s the combination of the three that helps you win online. How much of a percentage you allot to each is dependent on who your customers are and where they are.

You can’t just be a one-trick pony anymore. You have to master it all. But mastering it all means understanding where your best opportunities for success are, and walking away from the places where you’re just wasting your time.

Don’t waste time on social media

I want you to read this title in two different ways…

Don’t waste time on social media.

Don’t waste time on social media.

The first is a comment about how you spend time with social media marketing for your business. Even though people spend a lot of time in social media, they are not productive, because they are either in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing.

The second way of reading this suggests that, depending on what you sell and who you sell to, without spending time to get your content right, you are wasting time in social media.

Focus on having a meaningful conversation with your customers, building content they need, and creating a consistent online presence on the channels that make the most sense for your business. You don’t have to be everywhere.

 

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