The pitfalls budding social media marketers should watch out for

Not even the most conventional-minded marketer today will deny the power of social media in engaging customers and influencing their choices. And yet, as many brands have found out the hard way, succeeding on social media street is no piece of cake. It’s fraught with risks and uncertainties that have tripped up some marquee brands and their highly evolved marketing engines.

One of the greatest challenges of social media is to engage audiences who are faced with a massive information overload even when it comes to information they are proactively seeking. When it comes to unsolicited communication, the task of getting it across is twice as daunting. The message and the creative execution need to be extremely engaging to even register with them. Millenials especially are tough to engage with due to their short attention spans and impatience with content that’s anything less than spectacular.

The second major challenge is that of understanding and accepting who ‘owns’ the brand and its messaging on social media. Most brands have learnt that the ownership lies largely with the audience. The traditional content creator approach doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s best to let consumers co-create content with you and lead the direction of the conversation; the brand should merely be the platform, the facilitator that enjoys their gratitude and goodwill.

Another common pitfall that brands must be wary of is not coming across as a consistent, human entity. Marketers have always laid a lot of emphasis on creating a strong brand persona across media, but somehow when it comes to social media, the messaging tends to be more ad hoc and me-too. Lack of confidence in one’s posts- characterized by sticking to ‘safe’ material- is another almost surefire buzzkill for audiences who are looking for something interesting and unconventional.

B2B marketers often make the mistake of assuming that social media is for B2C brands only. The success of LinkedIn as a business networking community is just one of the facts that points in the other direction. According to a Forrester Research report titled “Social Technographics of Business Buyers”,

– 91% of business buyers read blogs, watching user generated video, participate in other social media
– 55% of decision-makers were in social networks
– 43% are creating media (blogs, uploading videos or articles, etc.)

Josh Bernoff of Forrester commented, “If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late.”

So those are some of the mistakes that can be avoided with a little thought and preparation (and by having a good digital / social marketing team on board). I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section.

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