And why is your brand participating in the first place?

This may seem to be a bit contrarian or perhaps confrontational to pose these questions in the first place, but social media marketing is MARKETING just like any other channel. The model is essentially to gather an audience, segmented by data, then sell things to that audience via advertising.

This simple principle is often be overlooked by social media purists but that’s the way the process works. Misunderstanding this dynamic will doom your social media efforts when it comes to business results.

So let’s be clear from the get go. Growing a social community and getting them to engage with your brand is very important. But to simply participate in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is simply ignoring reality. Social media like any other marketing channel needs to have a multi-pronged effort that works to capture people’s attention, while also advertising to them in a value-based way.

So why aren’t your social media marketing efforts working out the way you’d hoped. Here’s a few suggestions to help you get started.

Overestimating Community

Community building is important in social media marketing, but exactly what type of social community are you building.

When most social media marketers think of a social ‘community’, they imagine thousands of people gathered around their brand, patiently waiting for a piece of content to come out which will immediately improve their lives. The reality is, you should be showcasing the value of what your brand brings to the community in an educational, informative and value-driven way, with the hope that your community will choose your brand when a need arises.

Simply put, you have to stop pretending that people in your community really want to be friends with your brand. Once we all get a realistic understanding about what TYPE of community we’re trying to build, and WHY we’re building it, the results of our social media marketing efforts will improve.

Are You Advertising?

Social media advertising is one of the most cost-effective way to reach a targeted group of consumers. While not every business has a large budget to invest in advertising, a little can go a long way with social media. Carve a little off your ad budget and test social advertising. If you don’t, be ready for a disappointment when it comes to your social media marketing results.

Understand Data

One of the biggest potential weaknesses in any social media marketing strategy is failing to understand the data. If you can’t measure, analyze and react to the data created by your social activities, you’re essentially flying blind.

Get familiar with Facebook Insights, Facebook Analytics (from the Pixel) and Google Analytics so you fully understand exactly what your efforts are producing.

Success with social media marketing isn’t only about Likes, engagements and shares – in fact, these stats alone are largely irrelevant to your broader business goals.

You’re Not a Big Brand

If you’re modeling your social media marketing strategy after Coca-Cola or Nike, you’re probably way off the mark. Top companies like these have built brand equity over decades, and unless you’re prepared to go to market with immense budgets, trying to borrow ideas from them likely won’t work.

Small to mid-market businesses have to work extra hard to cut through the noise on social media. Never assume that people simply know you, and that they’ll automatically understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Be realistic, be humble and go to market with a scrappy and smart plan to build your brand every day.

You can’t skip years of brand building and hope that assumed brand equity is going to bode well for your business. Spend the time and money building awareness, and prospecting new clients. With time, your brand will grow.

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