5 Social Media Mistakes

Social Media is a powerful tool and most companies have at least dipped their toes into the pool of these new platforms, however some of them are making avoidable mistakes.  Here are 5 common mistakes that I see a lot of businesses making with social media…

  1. Overuse of Automated Responses–  setting up an auto-response to appear for any comment made on your platforms can be a mistake because it shows a lack of engagement on the part of the business.  People quickly become aware that the same canned response is being given to every comment and it demonstrates to them that nobody is really paying attention.  Also in the case of a grievance or a complaint, that canned auto-response may net you a VERY unfavorable reaction from a client or customer.
  2. Mixed Messaging/ Going OFF Brand–   the brand strategy and overall messaging can get thrown off course when there are too many people with their hand in the social media accounts.  Postings from different people can result in a campaign that appears “all over the place” to your audience.  A business is best served by having a dedicated social media manager or hiring an outside firm that is clear on the strategy to be executed.  Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the meal, as the saying goes…
  3. Failure to Engage–   the nature of social media is to create relationships with your target audience, failing to respond and engage with your audience will produce unsuccessful results.  You have to be ready and willing to take the time to reply to comments and offer new opportunities for people to interact with you.  Simply posting things will not make the most of your efforts—driving engagement is key to creating an interactive experience for your audience which makes them want more of what you have to offer.
  4. Poor Use of Hashtags–   let us start with the actual definition of a ‘hashtag’ for those of you that may be in the dark.  “Hashtag”- A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message or post to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their post, it’s able to be indexed by the social network and becomes searchable/discoverable by other user”.  That being said 59 hashtags accompanying your post is just, quite simply, annoying to the reader.  A few relevant hashtags for the sake of making your post searchable is acceptable.  Be advised to investigate trending hashtags prior to attaching them to your posts, make sure that what comes up in a search for that tag is exactly what you expected.  There have been cases of people using a trending hashtag that ends up highlighting them in searches for subject matter that they did not intend to be a part of.  Do your homework before attaching things to your content.
  5. Using Trending NEWS to Promote Yourself–  be careful what you associate your business with, the best example of a misstep with this one is when GAP used the news stories of Hurricane Sandy to tell people that they should stay inside and shop online at GAP.  It backfired terribly on them and they ended up having to apologize profusely to the public for being insensitive.  So make sure that if you are associating yourself with a news story, it comes across to the public the way that you intend.

All of the mistakes listed above can easily be avoided by paying attention to your audience and having a clear direction for strategy complete with a working understanding of the brand and messaging that is to be communicated.

If your company has not yet jumped into the world of social media platforms it needs to, this is the new media and it’s going to have to be dealt with, like it or not.  I know many companies that have their ‘head in the sand’ when it comes to getting involved in all the different platforms, however if they continue to ignore it, they will fail.  Social Media is here to stay and if you want to stay relevant you better get on board.

(C) 2017 N. Federico/ Fortunato Partners, Inc.

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Rethink Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing people will often tell you to focus on the competition as part of your marketing strategy, I disagree.  The competition should never be a core component of your strategy, there will ALWAYS be competition out there and if you spend too much time focusing on them and what they are doing you are likely to lose sight of what’s really important.  Obsessing over the competition has you putting energy in the wrong place.  That mentality gears you up for a battle instead of concentrating on bringing something to unique to the people that you serve.

Being aware of your competitors is a wise practice, know who they are and what they are offering and at what price point and then get busy spending your time on delivering new value to your customers/clients.  If you can create a NEW marketspace for what you are doing then your competition becomes irrelevant.

A New Year is approaching and with it comes fresh opportunities to utilize ALL new media outlets to drive value—start looking at your communications and your social media plans—are you using them to create value and solution oriented conversation for the people that you serve?  Or are you still trying to do everything like you used to do it?  In order to remain in the game you MUST evolve into the new conversations and the new mediums.

Look for ways to be disruptive, innovative, authentic and creative…start thinking about your business in new ways and then let the competition start worrying about you!

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A Love Affair…

A good Brand needs to ignite a love affair between itself and its customers.  That relationship becomes something that people can’t live without, something that they will go out of their way to be involved with.   A  great Brand will naturally bring return business because its biggest concern is its relationship with its customers…most people and businesses these days aren’t concerned much with relationship, they are more concerned with telling you what they want you to know about them.

There are so many things grabbing for your attention in this new media world…the only things that are really going to capture attention are things that are so different from the ‘norm’ that you can’t help but notice them.  The handwritten thank you note is one of those things…hardly anyone takes the time to send them anymore, yet it is such a strong statement that you do things differently.   Brands that are committed to doing things differently and taking care of people are the brands that will win as the economy revives itself…

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Marketing Revisited…

Marketing in the current environment needs to focus on what is happening in the moment—old traditional marketing is stale —you have to be talking where people are listening, although social media is not a place for “selling” it is a place to talk to people about what you are offering and when and how—many people now ask their Facebook friends for thoughts on where to eat, where to vacation and what brand of something to buy—anyone with a smart phone is immediately dialed in to their personal network of friends.

A website is essential for your business to operate in this economy and you better have a good site, one that has the ability to interact with your target audience.  Video of real people using your product or service is a great, authentic way to market yourself.  Video of customer testimonials is also a worthy marketing tool as are good facebook posts about your company or positive tweets.

The best way to recruit customers is with other customers.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks says, “The rules of engagement in traditional marketing are over.  Whether you are creating a brand, building a brand, or running a big one, you’d better understand social media, because there is a seismic shift in how people are gaining access to information and, as a result how they are behaving.”     http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Schultz/e/B000APBK72

No longer can we disseminate information down to the customer or consumer, we now have to approach them from an equal platform sharing information with them and making them feel included.  People naturally want to be ‘in relationship’; they want to be a part of something…social media allows an opportunity for this to happen. It allows a company to create a collection of enthusiasts for their product or service by conducting an ongoing relationship with them.

One concern with social media is allowing employees of your company to interact about your company on social media outlets—the fear here is about controlling ‘message’ and not knowing what an employee may or may not say about company culture or company practices.  Here’s an important point:  if you are running your company the way it should be run and treating customers and employees the way that they should be treated then you have nothing to fear.  If your employees are happy and you have your pulse on what is happening in your business then you won’t get any surprises.  The companies and people that fear social media as a way to market are the ones with something to hide.  I’m not saying that you will never get an unexpected derogatory post, however if you are doing it right the sporadic unfavorable post will be easy to resolve.

Culture is the next big playing field and Jeff Bezos (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2012/1119/Amazon-s-Jeff-Bezos-as-Businessperson-of-the-Year-Can-the-book-world-learn-from-him) understands this which is one of the reasons he paid so much money to purchase Zappos (http://mashable.com/2009/07/22/amazon-bought-zappos/ ).  Zappos has created an incredible culture both within the company and with its customers.  You know that you have an incredible customer experience when people will pay you more money for a product or service that someone else is selling for less.  This was the case with Zappos and Amazon, Zappos was outselling Amazon in some non-footwear categories that Amazon was priced less in.  This kind of consumer behavior is indicative of a company that creates an incredible customer experience and with all the ‘noise’ and competition that is out there in the marketplace today only companies that are creating a culture that results in this kind of experience will be winning.  Zappos is that kind of company and Jeff Bezos being the visionary that he is recognized that and was willing to pay a high price to have it.

A perfect blend is to use traditional media and social media to keep the conversation going with potential and existing customers and clients.  A smart use of marketing dollars is to create ads in traditional media that require some jump to social media to deliver the complete message

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If you intend to have a successful business of any type, including if you are simply an online entrepreneur with a blog, Ebay or Etsy store you better KNOW what your brand is.  Meaning that when I ask you that question an immediate answer must come to mind.  An answer that tells me WHAT you are, what you STAND for.

For instance when I say ‘Harley Davidson’ –you think motorcycles

When I say ‘McDonalds’–you think hamburgers, when I say ‘Starbucks’ — you think coffee.  Those three companies I just named are doing an excellent job with their branding because everyone thinks pretty much the same thing when they hear the company name.

What do people think when they hear your name or your business name?  I promise you that they think SOMETHING, however is it what you want to be known for???  Are the words that come to mind when someone hears your name or the name of your business words that you wish to be remembered by?  I have a friend Tim Davis, he is a branding trainer for Real Estate people and he does a phenomenal job schooling people in the importance of BRAND.  In fact he is so damn good at it then when people say his name, those of us that know him immediately think ‘the branding guy’.  He even has a particular outfit that he is known for when he does training seminars…check him out Tim Davis, Branding Guru .  He knocks BRAND out of the park.  The world could learn a lot from this guy…

When you don’t know what your brand is then neither does anybody else and that becomes instantly detrimental to your business, no matter what you do.  Not understanding your brand is especially damaging to a large organization.  Recently a global organization that has been around for over 100 years has asked for my help in regards to their branding.  The request involves working to get the entire executive team on the same page in regards to what the brand is and whether or not that is being communicated effectively throughout the organization and then further out to the world.  I circulated a list of questions to the executive team, one of which was “What is (the organization’s) brand?  The ENTIRE executive team had a DIFFERENT ANSWER –no two answers were the same.  This is from the Executive Team…the people leading this organization into the future.  This kind of fragmentation in the core team will lead to failure on all fronts.  If you cannot even communicate effectively WHO or WHAT you are how the hell can you do ANYTHING else????

A business functions to fulfill its purpose or mission.  This purpose or mission becomes the DRIVING FORCE or brand of the organization.  This HAS TO BE SOLID!  You have got to know who and what you are in order to execute ANYTHING else.  A strategy for growth cannot be designed without a direction, your direction comes from your brand—who and what you are.  When you do not know who or what you are then you end up running in all kinds of different directions wasting time and energy on things that have nothing to do with your core purpose.

I don’t care if you are selling vintage clothes on ebay, selling crafts you made on Etsy or building a global distribution company– you better know WHO and WHAT you are and then line your strategies up behind that.

If you are a cookie company, make and sell cookies — do not waste your time trying to sell chips, milk and coffee and looking into producing and packaging those items– make and sell COOKIES like your life depended on it.   LIVE into your brand and OWN it!  Make and sell the best damn cookies that anyone ever had.

Part of understanding your brand is that then you know who you are and who you are not.  So if someone comes to you with an opportunity and it doesn’t fit your brand, you simply say NO and move on.  No time and energy wasted.  When you are clueless about who you are then you will find yourself saying yes to things that don’t suit you, simply because you are not crystal clear on your brand.

Get clear on your BRAND folks, your future depends on your ability to communicate it effectively to yourself and every one else…




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Welcome to Life Without my MBA…

This is a blog created to share bits and pieces of over 30 years of business experiences and wisdom.  Welcome!

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