How To Suck At Social Or 10 Horror Movie Scenarios For Startups

Ah, yes, social media – that’s basically Facebook and Twitter, right? Let’s whip up some profiles and start posting from time to time, that’ll get us so many new customers and traffic on our website! Not to mention everyone will know our product!

Social media, contrary to popular belief, includes all social networks, which means forums and blogs as well. Did you know that YouTube is a social network too? If you’re a new business owner and have never used social media for business purposes before – do this small exercise with me.

  1. Breathe in and close your eyes.
  2. Remember everything everyone has ever told you about social media.
  3. Imagine those things written down on a piece of paper.
  4. Imagine an X as big as a skyscraper and place it on top of the piece of paper.
  5. Open your eyes and breathe out.

There, now I can start fresh by introducing what social media actually is. And, bear with me – this is an overly simplistic definition, but you’ll soon understand why it fits perfectly here:

Social media is an online tool that enables two-way communications.

 Catch my drift? I took the time to compile a list of 10 social media mistakes that would make great horror movie scenarios for startups – after reading the first one, you’ll get the meaning of my definition.

Horror movie scenario #1. Death by monologue

Most of the brands out there have 0 engagement on their social media channels. A like here, a comment there and then you realize something is wrong. But what is it? Well, is your content aiming to spur dialogue or is it only a statement? Are you asking your audience for feedback or are you simply informing them about your new product? Next time you have a summer sale – ask your users to upload pictures of themselves wearing the clothes in order to get a discount, instead of telling them to come by the shop and check out the sale. If your app has a new look – don’t tell them it looks much better now, ask if it does and why.

This automatically leads us to:

Horror movie scenario #2. Murder-suicide: killing your business and your users with boredom

I find that there’s a direct correlation between boredom and value. If you’re not providing value to your users, you’re failing at the basics of social media and there’s a big chance they’ll get bored and hit the big X (or, even worse – “unlike”). Posting an inspirational quote is fine, we all know inspiration is one of the top things people search for online (apart from cats doing ridiculous stunts), but… Wouldn’t it be better to post the inspirational story of a consumer that used your product? An answer to the most asked question on your page followed by a positive saying? The list of ideas is endless once you get into this way of thinking, trust me. For something to be interesting, it has to provide value. Bottom line: don’t bore your users to death!

Horror movie scenario #3. Death by page likes

Before you crack open the champagne – the fact that your business got 100 new page likes today doesn’t mean much if you are unaware of why it happened. Brought you down, didn’t I? Don’t worry, the light at the end of that endless tunnel is on its way here. It’s just that instead of taking a taxi, it’s walking.

In all seriousness, think about it: so many companies go on sites like fiverr.com or even pay someone to go on like4like.com (don’t you dare) and miss the memo that getting a huge amount of fake page likes or retweets brings absolutely no value to anyone. Okay, you can show off for a day or two, but what then? Are those people going to engage with your posts? Are they going to buy your product? I bet you think: “Okay, so they are fake, but behind those profiles are real people! Maybe they will like what they see so much that they will decide to buy my product.”

This is just not going to happen, plus do you really want to depend on it? The worst thing is that many of those fake users dislike your page after some time, and if there’s something I know well, it’s that a page with less likes than yesterday looks much worse than a page with the same likes as a month ago.

Horror movie scenario #4. Death by automatic response

If there’s a way to alienate your customers, you’re looking at it. Tools like Relaxed and SocialOopmh exist, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. You’re a startup owner and you’re already thinking about providing your customers, the very people that your reputation relies on, with a robot-like response every time they ask something?Uh-uh. Invest the time, the effort and the talent into customer service and establish a reputation of a brand that has fast and effective solution-oriented responses. This is a piece of advice that even big and established brands sometimes fail to follow.

Horror movie scenario #5. Death by duplication

Think of each social media channel as a different, separate tool that helps get your message visualized. That does not, however, mean posting the same content on each channel, or, in other words, duplicating it. Customize your message so that it looks different, feels different, maybe even engages different types of people, but in the end – is consistent. In my experience I’ve seen more than a few companies thinking:

“We’ll just create profiles on 1 or 2 platforms and post the same stuff from time to time, so it should be okay”.

Then they hire someone to do the job and they feel good about it. Imagine me jumping around with an oversized “Hell no” sign in my hands. Each channel can:

  1. Connect you to your audience in a different way
  2. Serve a different purpose

Let’s take Instagram. Ever heard of window-shopping? We’ve all done it and many of us do it on a regular base, as pointless as it seems. With Instagram, companies have the ability to activate and engage users by simply sharing photos. (Well, original content is the best, so, also shooting and editing them. Duh). There are possibilities for both long-term and short term branding, for instance as part of a campaign. So, don’t get lazy with your content – make sure there’s a variety and keep it relevant and interesting.

Horror movie scenario #7. Death by acquisition

Yes, your social media channels are a great way to expand your customer base, but what is even better – they’re great for retention. Try focusing on that instead of only on acquisition! It’s very possible that a new Facebook fan will become a customer, but think about repeat behavior. If one of your already existing customers becomes, let’s say a Facebook fan, this will have a much bigger impact on buying behavior. It has been proven that social media  fans spend more money on brands than non-fans. Focus on your existing customers and make them even more valuable to your company. And don’t forget to offer cutting-edge customer service.I witnessed a simple, yet effective way to do both on my latest shopping spree in Dublin: I was at H&M, and when it was finally my turn to pay, a cashier nicely told me that there is now a discount for Facebook fans and next time I can claim a discount code from there.

Horror movie scenario #8. Death by a thin spread

You don’t need to be everywhere. The fact that Snapchat exists doesn’t mean you have to immediately start pushing your social media manager to create an account there (especially with no knowledge of its value for businesses). Get to know your customers, evaluate each channel based on demographics, geographical location, user base and everything else that is relevant. If you spread yourself too thin you might just lose some followers due to reposting of the same content(see #7), spam or inconsistency.

Horror movie scenario #9. Death by insufficient social

Companies have the nagging tendency to treat social like it’s something they justhave to do on the side, because… well, everyone else is doing it. This attitude will rid you of any chances of using it to your full advantage. Think of social as something that should be a part of the customer experience at all times. When a user buys something from your website – give him the option to share it with his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook friends. Provide them with the opportunity to follow you on your social channels in order to get discounts in the future. Let them win vouchers. Social engagement has to come naturally and it has to come at a high level.

Horror movie scenario #10 Death by post overload vs. deficiency

I’m not going to tell you what every wannabe writer in every wannabe website tells you. Don’t post 56,7 times on Twitter per day and don’t post on Facebook once every few hours. Find out when your users are most active (e.g. by using the “when your fans are online” graph from the “Insights” on your Facebook page), do your research, try, fail (and you will) and then decide. However, be extra careful not to spam users and not to make them wonder what happened to that cool brand that used to post interesting content. What do you feel when you open a company’s page on Twitter and see they haven’t got a single tweet in over a month? That’s right – that they don’t care about their users or their image. They probably don’t like using social media either, which automatically alienates them from many users.

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After being through my fair share of horror movies (and it’s only the beginning of my career) I can honestly say that this is just the foundation of using social media for your business. There are many more tips and tricks you will pick up along the way, as soon as you get into it. The silver lining is that, if you don’t – you can always contact me at ddobreva13@gmail.com. I’ll make sure to get on your nerves even more by pointing out what you’re doing wrong and how you can improve it.

That’s it, now you can go. No? Well, okay, then here’s one last tip from me: when it comes to targeting, don’t forget to be specific.

Targeting a campaign towards the whole state of Nebraska is one thing, but evaluating who your customers from Nebraska actually are and which ones among them would spend their money with you is the key to success.

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