Paul Carringer’s latest article for the PRSA Perspectives blog.
Millenials rock the smartphone!
A recent study by Experian Marketing Services, a global provider of integrated consumer insights, tells us that “Millennials are the most digitally connected generation, with 77 percent of adult Millennials owning a smart phone” and using it for everything from talking, to texting, to social networking (1). The study is clear that Millennials are digitally driven and interacting with digital media at the rate of almost 10 hours a day, much of it driven through a smartphone.
But, should PR professionals care? If we use the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) model, the answer is, “it depends.” Are we trying to reach Millennials? And, when, and if we do, what exactly do we want the message to be? Most of all, how do “they” want to receive our message?
The Pew Internet and American Life study informs us that Twitter users tend to be men, 19 to 29, and making less than $35,000 a year. Lee Rainie, Director of the Knight Digital Media Center, notes that 89% of the 18 to 29 year old crowd is into social networking while 60% of the 50 to 64 year old crowd can say the same. The fastest growing group into social is those 65 and older. And, Facebook leads the pack of social media outlets with over 90% of adults in the USA onboard…
By now it seems every business, both large and small, has a social media presence. But as social media is still a relative toddler in the marketing landscape, we see companies making the same mistakes repeatedly.
Is your company making any of these mistakes?
1) Not starting with a plan. Every social media campaign should follow an overall plan. But I’m going to take it a step further and say it should be just a piece of your overall marketing plan. Your marketing plan should be a cohesive strategy that includes social media. Social should never be executed in a vacuum.
2) Ignoring your plan. How many companies have taken the time to create a social media plan, then promptly ignored it? The result of this is usually a series of haphazard posts with no cohesive theme, voice, or detectible strategy.
3) Dismissing social media completely. We are past the point of social media being the latest fad. Social is here, it’s a powerful tool, and it’s one you can’t afford to ignore. Your customers and clients are there, and you should be, too.
4) Giving up too soon. So your sales haven’t increased by 200% since you started your social media campaign? You don’t have over 1,000 followers on Twitter? Welcome to the real world. Social media takes time and patience. The point of social media isn’t advertising, but forging relationships with your audience or followers. Relationships take time, and so will your social media efforts.
5) Being too sales focused. As I pointed out in the previous post, social media shouldn’t be used to “sell.” Sure, a call to action now and then is appropriate-after all you are running a business. But people don’t use social media to hear advertising noise. They want to interact with real people.
6) Forgetting the social part of social media. This is, of course, related to number 5 above, but too many people use social media as just another marketing channel. But social media isn’t a billboard-it’s a way of interacting with customers and potential customers. It’s a conversation, which is a two-way street. People don’t want to be talked at- they want a conversation. If you don’t converse, people will go elsewhere, because social media is about people, not products.
7) Inconsistent posting and ignoring posts. We’ve all seen these social media accounts. The ones that have five posts in one week, then nothing for three months. Even worse are the accounts with several posts from customers needing assistance or having questions, and no responses from the account owners. Just…crickets…
8) Improper responses. The great thing about social media is that everyone can participate if they choose. It gives your customers a voice, and it’s a great way to communicate with your customers. The worst thing about social media? You get the idea. The point is, your customers have a voice. While it’s 100% normal for customers to encounter issues, questions, or problems, a small percentage of those same customers will chose to express themselves in not-so-nice ways. How you respond is critical. While you should never, EVER ignore legitimate questions and complaints-rude, abusive or offensive posts should be dealt with differently. This is the only time it is permissible to delete a post from your social media page. If you do choose to respond to an abusive comment, do so with caution. It would be appropriate, for example, to post a reminder that your social media policy is to not allow rude, abusive or otherwise offensive comments. Our own social media policy states that curse words will be deleted immediately.
9) Using a social media platform just because it’s there. Different social media platforms are great for different things, but don’t feel you have to be on every social network just to say you’re there. Are your customers there? If not, you’re just wasting your time. Too many companies feel they have to be everywhere at once, and that the more social media channels they’re on-the better. This isn’t necessarily the case, however. Don’t spread your resources too thin. Concentrate on a small, targeted presence, and only expand into other channels if it makes sense for your company to be there.
10) Handing your social media accounts to the wrong person.
It’s a debate as old as social media itself, but to whom do you hand over the social media accounts? An intern? A secretary? A marketing specialist? The answer? It depends. I won’t go into the whole intern versus full time employee debate, but the person in charge of social media should understand not just the tactics and tools, but the overall strategy as well. They should understand the company and culture, the product or service, know how to write, etc. They have direct interactions with customers, the media, and other businesses, and for many, they will be the face of your business
There are several more, but we decided to limit ourselves to 10. What are the top mistakes you see business making on social media?