The world of social media moves quickly. If your strategy is the same in 2017 as it was in 2014, it’s probably time to change it.
Failing to keep up with new trends in social media practices could result in your business falling behind faster than you can tweet about it. Worse still, you could be missing out on opportunities to reach new audiences.
The good news is that even the most tired of social media strategies can be rescued with a little bit of effort, potentially turning a once-failing Facebook page into one of your business' greatest assets.
Keep an eye out for these nine telltale signs that your social media strategy is getting a bit long in the tooth, and follow our tips for getting your social media channels back on track.
1. Your Social Media Account(s) Look Abandoned
What’s worse than a business that doesn’t have a social media presence? A business that used to have one but then stopped bothering.
Idle Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts — pages with a smattering of posts from a year or two ago and then, suddenly, nothing — are this generation’s “Website coming soon!” GIFs.
As well as potentially giving people the wrong impression about your business (Did it go under? Are they just lazy?), poorly maintained social media accounts are unlikely to result in conversions of any kind — be they sales, homepage visits or just gaining new followers.
It’s not necessary to have reams of content on every social platform you make use of (more on that later), but those that you do settle on need to be kept up-to-date.
2. You’re Not Fostering Two-Way Communication
Hop into your direct messages folder or do a quick check for of any mentions of your business on the social networks you make use of.
Do you see any questions or comments that haven’t been responded to?
People today expect to have a direct line to the businesses and brands they follow. That may sound like a lot for a smaller business to take on, but the fact that members of the public and fellow businesses alike can get in touch with you anytime, anywhere, is great news for your company.
If these questions, comments and post engagements go ignored, however, then customers will become frustrated and go elsewhere — or worse, they'll tell others not to bother with your business since you just don’t seem to care.
Hi @Waterstones I've been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.— David Willis (@DWill_) October 16, 2014
You don't need to have someone on-hand 24/7 to respond to every comment or message that comes your way (although you could use a chatbot to hold the fort during your down-time). But it's vital that you make time to keep up with incoming messages and people who engage with your page.
Draw up guidelines for how to respond to complaints, queries and (hopefully) compliments coming in through your social networks to ensure that your followers don’t go ignored.
3. You’re Sticking to the Same Old Platforms
People change. So do the social networking sites they use. Your business needs to react to these changes and go where the action is.
Although platforms like Facebook and Twitter remain hugely powerful tools for businesses, it’s important to ask yourself whether one of the newer, less obvious social networks could also be a good fit for your business.
Sites like Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube have a bit more of a learning curve to them than Facebook, but by sticking to the same old platforms just because you're comfortable with them, you risk your brand becoming stale, not to mention potentially losing followers as they migrate elsewhere.
Do a little research and consider adding a new platform to your social media arsenal if you can see potential to reach new audiences. Who knows, you might even reconnect with former fans of your business who abandoned the platforms you’re using long ago.
4. You’re Ignoring Newer Content Trends
If you’re certain that you’re using the right social platforms for your business, then the next thing to do is ensure that you’re getting the most out of them.
Photos, links to blog posts and status updates were once the limit of what businesses could do with Facebook. Today, however, these things are unlikely to be engaged with to the same degree.
The tools that social media managers have at their disposal have evolved, as have the ways that people consume content online. Businesses need to embrace these trends and get to grips with the new features that have been added to the platforms they use in order to remain relevant.
Have you explored the potential of Facebook Live to stream live broadcasts? If your business relies heavily on Instagram, then are you tapping into the buzz around disappearing content with Instagram Stories?
Keeping up with today's social media trends doesn't have to be complicated: check out our guide to digital marketing trends in 2017 to learn more about incorporating things like live streaming into your existing online strategy.
5. You’re Still Not Using Hashtags Properly
Intelligent use of hashtags can help get your posts in front of brand new audiences.
But it’s not enough to slap a pound sign on a keyword and assume it’ll give your post the kind of boost you're hoping for.
Before hitting that Send button, do a bit of research into the strength of the hashtags you’re including in your posts. Do they chime with your brand’s core message? More to the point, are people actually using them?
Sites like Hashtagify are a great place to start when exploring hashtags, providing useful information about the popularity of the words and phrases you're targeting, as well as throwing out related tags that you might be overlooking.
Don’t be tempted to shoehorn hashtags into your posts just because they’re trending on Twitter, either.
It’s good practice to get your business involved in conversations on social media. But adding hashtags to your posts purely because they’re trending will, at best, result in your post getting lost in the pile, at worst cost you followers as they recoil from your blatant attempt to cash in on the conversation.
6. Your Follower Count Has Stalled
Racking up 5,000+ page likes in your first year is great. But unless you’re seeing a constant increase in followers, then something about your approach to social media isn’t working.
Scroll back through your last few weeks of posts and ask yourself if, as a member of the public, you'd follow that page.
Is the company's personality clearly visible through its posts? Is there an interesting mix of the business' own posts and content from elsewhere? Does this business post too frequently or too little?
It’s also worth taking a moment to look for any posts that resulted in people unfollowing you. It could be that you are actually gaining new followers, but you’re losing existing fans just as quickly with posts that they don't like.
You might also consider paying to promote one or two of your posts, taking care to target your key demographics, to see if you can inject a little life into your page.
7. Your Followers Don't Engage With Your Posts
If you’re posting regularly but your posts aren’t being liked, shared, or even seen by your followers, then you might as well not be posting at all.
One of the most common causes for poor post engagement is the timing of the posts.
It's important to test the effects of sharing content at different times of day to see how many people see your posts — run a few quick tests and devise a posting schedule to ensure that you're not playing to an empty room.
Another common cause of flopped posts is lack of visual impact.
Reynolds Kitchens quite literally thinking out of the box on Instagram
Social networks are built with photos and videos in mind. Some, like Facebook, actively give priority to image-based posts and slip them into more users' news feeds.
Instead of just sharing a link to your site, blog, or product info page, try including the same link in the description of a related photo or video — you might be surprised at the difference it can make to your reach and engagement.
8. You Serve the Same Content on Every Social Network
No matter how well pizza, jelly and ice cream went down at your five-year-old’s birthday party, you wouldn’t serve the exact same meal to your partner on your 20th wedding anniversary.
The same principle applies to your social media content.
The temptation to share every piece of content you create across every social media platform you manage is understandable (after all, you worked hard on it and want people to see it).
But by doing so, you’re not only serving content that will look out of place on all but one of the platforms, but missing an opportunity to take advantage of each platform’s features.
Check out our guide to social networks to learn about what each has to offer and the kind of content that works best on each.
9. Your Social Media Manager Works Alone
We’ve saved this point till last because it’s the one that we want small business owners to keep most in mind.
Aware of the need for a strong social media presence but lacking the time to dedicate to doing so, many business owners will hire someone to “take care of all that stuff” for them, plonking them down in a corner of the office and expecting them to work their Facebook magic.
But if your social media manager isn’t in constant communication with the rest of your team and being kept up-to-date with developments in your business, then you’re unlikely to see much return of investment.
Your social media manager is very often the first point of contact with your customers, effectively acting as the voice of the company.
If he or she is simply left to get on with it, then as well as squandering one of your greatest commodities, there’s a good chance that the two of you will be pulling in totally different directions.
Involve your social media manager — and your entire marketing team — in meetings. Ask them to provide monthly reports and to come up with any ideas to promote your business. In short, keep your friends close and your social media manager closer.
The speed with which the social media scene evolves can be intimidating for smaller business owners. But taking time to assess your platforms' performance can provide great opportunities to explore new avenues.
Always be ready to roll with the changes — they could be the difference between making a splash on social media and being ignored.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of the features that have recently been added to your social media platform of choice, feel free to leave a comment below.