3 Social Media “Don’ts,’ and How to Fix Them


3 Social Media “Don’ts,’ and How to Fix Them

 If you want to market to your audience in 2016, you will find them on social media.  Yes, even parking industry companies. And not just the operators targeting consumers. Parking companies, from online reservation and mobile payment businesses to industry suppliers and government agencies, have all tapped into the social media craze. 
By the very nature of social media, it is always changing. This constant evolution makes mastering it both challenging and time-consuming. Not to mention overwhelming. 
Speaking broadly, not specific to any platform, budget or time investment, you do need to employ a few key tactics to be successful. You also need to stay away from a few bad practices that will scream, “I have no idea how to use social media! I just know everyone else is on it, and I should be too!”
So here is a rundown of three top social media mistakes that companies make, with some suggested fixes: 
1. Don’t start without a plan. 
Social media is a place where many of us spout our thoughts at random, publicizing every intimate aspect of our lives. If this is how you are using your personal social media accounts, then fine. However, if you are using this strategy for your business, then, my dear, you are in real trouble. 
Don’t give into the temptation to hop on Twitter and skip developing a social media strategic plan, outlining your goals and the resources that you’ll need to accomplish them. Even though many social media management tools are inexpensive or free, they still cost businesses time – and time means money. 
Fix: To avoid this, create a strategic social media plan. Start by asking yourself what you hope to achieve from your social media efforts and how you plan to get there. Determine the amount of time and the necessary resources you are willing and able to devote to the program. Once you have a plan in place, it will be easier to focus on achieving the results you want.
So, before you start tweeting and sharing to your heart’s content, sit down and develop an action plan. Your plan should answer the who, what, where, when, why and how of your social media initiatives. Also, plan how you will track and measure success. 
2. Don’t straight sell. 
Is there any better way to turn off your audience, especially a new follower, than to immediately send them an overt sales pitch? While everybody has to make their quotas, this is not the way to do that. 
Fix: Instead, make an effort to understand the art of “social selling.” This is the practice of using social media to research, connect and interact with prospects. It’s imperative to understand that social selling is by no means the same as “cold calling” and direct sales. The goal is to find people who could benefit from the product or services you offer, and then to build a relationship with them. By providing helpful content and value, you will be building credibility and position your expertise. 
Under no circumstances should you be just tweeting a link to your product or service offering every time someone mentions they have a problem. Nor should your blog posts plug your company’s services as the solution to all your audience’s problems. 
Social selling is not about educating your followers about your products and services. It is more about providing valuable information to your audience that will keep them interested and keep you top of mind, so when they do have a need for your products, services or expertise, who will they think of? You!
3. Don’t hire an intern or teenager to run your social media campaigns. 
Interns and teenagers may have grown up using social media and can type faster on their smartphone with two fingers than you can on a normal size keyboard with all 10, but interns and entry-level employees lack experience. They have not had the opportunity to develop the necessary insights to understand the big picture required for a truly effective social media strategy. 
Social media is also a very visible activity for any company. Because interns are transient, they are not as invested in your business. One rookie mistake could lead to a social media nightmare. Would you ever let an intern run a company press conference or be the face of the organization in traditional media? 
Every social media move is out there for the world to see. And, besides, hiring a social media intern is a temporary solution to a long-term need. 
Fix: A better plan for businesses without the resources to launch a social media marketing strategy would be to consider getting outside help from a digital marketing agency. The cost of hiring an intern vs. an agency may be comparable. But better yet, the return on the investment from hiring a professional marketer would exceed the cost that you would pay for agency services. 
If you do decide to go the DIY route, vet your prospective social media managers thoroughly. You should expect the candidate’s presence online to be professional, consistent and strategic. Notice the candidate’s number of followers and their sharing, liking and engagement with their audience. 
One final thought 
Make it as easy as possible to follow you – make sure your social media icons are on the home page of your website. They should be placed in a prominent location such as its header or sidebar. They should link directly to your profiles, so your readers can follow you immediately. Integrate live social media feeds (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), so visitors can see your recent activity. When your audience can see what you’re sharing, they may be more likely to follow you. 
Kathleen Laney, President and Executive Search Consultant at Laney Solutions, is a Contributing Writer for Parking Today. Contact her at kathleen@laneysolutions.com.
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Kathleen Laney
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