Here's a scenario that you might be familiar with: You own a small business, and while you know quite a bit about traditional marketing, the world of social media is a confusing space. You’ve been told that you need to have a social media presence in order for your business to grow and succeed, but you don’t have a clue where to begin, let alone how to manage it on an ongoing basis. So you’ve hired a social media manager to deal with that for you.
Social media is a highly effective marketing tool, but only if your social media manager is a true professional that understands the fundamentals of marketing. All of your marketing efforts, including social media, should be based on clearly identified objectives or goals. Those goals should be measured on an ongoing basis and reported back to you. Your social media manager needs to be transparent about their marketing tactics and how they are working towards your goals (and therefore, sales!).
But how do you know if your social media manager is doing a good job? Sometimes it is easier to look at what they should NOT be doing to determine if your money is being well spent.
We have put together a list of bad marketing techniques that we have witnessed REAL social media managers use! These are things that your social media manager should NOT be doing.
1. They should NOT be buying followers – not for you, and not for themselves.
It is very easy to buy followers on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Purchasing a few thousand followers can be very inexpensive, and unless you know what to look for, it can be hard to tell whether your followers are real or fake.
Why is this bad? Because the purpose of growing a following on social media is to reach your intended target audience. The number of followers that you have is meaningless if those followers are not people that are going to purchase your product or service.
How to tell if you have fake followers: Check SocialBlade. Real follower growth should follow a gradual incline from left to right. If you see “steps” in the data it indicates that a large number of followers were obtained at once. This is a red flag that they were purchased or obtained through unsavoury means. See the image below, you'll notice a giant jump in followers between January and April 2017 - this indicates purchased followers.
Full disclosure: Kaden Ave Communications once ran an experiment where we obtained 900+ Likes on our Facebook page using a paid ad technique that encouraged people to like our page. While these were real people and not “fake” followers, they were not in our target demographic. This has impacted our engagement statistics, because far fewer people engage with our content than follow our page. Learn from our experience, and don’t do it (and don’t hire anyone that hides the fact that they do).
2. They should not be using bots for engagement.
Maybe you’ve seen this before on your personal accounts (especially Instagram): you post a photo, and a comment will pop up from a business that says something generic like, “Wow great photo!” or even just a simple “😎”.
Don’t feel warm and fuzzy quite yet; that business doesn’t actually like your content. They are using a bot that is programmed to generically comment on posts that contain certain hashtags.
This is not a good practice because it is not real engagement. Similar to the reason why you don’t want to buy followers, you also want your engagement to be genuine. Your audience isn’t stupid – they know when a business is engaging with them just because they want to be seen, and not because they are trying to make a real personal connection. Don’t treat your audience like they’re stupid.
Another full disclosure: We are mostly okay with bots that “like” posts on Instagram, because people collect likes like they used to collect pogs in the early 90s – the more the better. But comments are a no go for us.
Instagram is actually cracking down hard on bots, so this problem may go away altogether soon. Here’s a great post from our friendly competition Beverley Theresa on the matter: 2018 Instagram API Changes Will Murder Influencers
Look at how lame this looks:
3. They should not be posting garbage content just for the sake of it.
We’re talking low quality memes here, people.
This is garbage content:
It offers no value to you as a customer unless it is A) very funny, or B) highly relevant to your industry.
There is a time and a place for “fluffy” content, because social media should not be all sales all the time, but that content still needs to be of a high quality and it should match your brand standards.
And on that note…
4. They should not be selling ALL THE TIME.
Your faithful followers do not want to be sold to all of the time. They are following your business page because they like your product or service, or they enjoy your messaging or your brand. But you will very quickly lose that loyalty if you constantly bombard them with BUY! BUY! BUY!
Your followers want to see more about your brand. For example, what does a day in the life look like for your business? Who are your individual staff members, and what do they love about working for you? What are your company’s core values?
There is a ton of content that you can pull from to keep your audience interested, without saturating them with annoying sales techniques, and your social media manager should be utilizing this content.
5. If they are managing multiple accounts, they should not be sharing their own clients’ stuff on your page.
Here’s an example: Your social media manager has a hair salon and a home-builder as clients. Your business is a restaurant. All three of these businesses have different target demographics and marketing goals. But for some reason, they are retweeting all of the three business’ tweets on each other’s timelines, to the point where you can’t differentiate between your timeline and their other clients’ timelines.
This is not a good practice. If your social media manager is doing this, they have a poor understanding of what it means to be genuinely “social”, or they are trying to boost their engagement stats in a really lame way.
Your goal should be to generate content that engages your target audience so that YOUR AUDIENCE shares your content on their own timelines. It does small businesses no service at all for social media managers to be faking engagement by creating it themselves.
How to tell if this is being done: Check to see who is liking or retweeting your business’ content. If it is the same few businesses always engaging, ask your social media manager if those are his or her other clients. If they say yes, fire them.
6. They should not be using the same sized images across all platforms.
This is one of our biggest pet peeves. Each platform has different specifications for the best size of photo that will show well on both desktop and mobile, and all photos should be resized so that they fit those specs. The reason this is such a pet peeve is because THIS IS SO EASY.
There is a FREE website called Canva that allows you to very quickly and easily resize your content. There should be no excuse for this.
7. They should not be posting your photos (nor their own) directly from Instagram to Twitter.
First of all, it looks terrible. The photo is not the right size (see above), and if they are including the hashtag cloud, forget about it. It’s lazy, unprofessional, and it looks terrible. NEXT!
8. If you are working with an influencer, they need to be disclosing that the content is an ad.
This isn’t even our personal preference; it is actually the rules according to the Ad Standards of Canada. Any influencer that has been paid or provided with a free product to promote on their social media channels is required to disclose that they are advertising that product. They can use a few ways to do this: in the ad copy itself, or through the use of hashtags like #ad, #partner, or #sponsored.
Not disclosing promotional content is unethical. As a business owner, you do not want to get caught not disclosing your paid content because it has the potential to be very bad PR for your brand.
This brings us to our final point, but it is perhaps the most important, and the most telling about whether your social media manager understands fundamental digital marketing concepts:
9. Your social media manager should not be leading your audience anywhere except for ON YOUR OWN PAGE OR WEBSITE.
I’ve been seeing this a lot lately: the social media manager themselves has quite a few followers, so they partner with their client to hold a product giveaway. But instead of driving the audience to the client’s website, the social media manager asks people to visit and like THEIR OWN PAGE to enter the contest. This is not ideal.
You want your audience to remain engaged with YOUR brand, not theirs. Why should your followers care who your social media manager is, and why should they have to follow them to win a prize from you? It makes no sense. Even worse, it could be confusing or even annoying to your followers, which could be harmful to your brand.
The same goes for influencers – a good influencer will try to drive traffic to your site, not their own. When your marketing is costing your business money, you need to be aware of everyone’s personal motivations before you shell out your cash.
If you are going to do a giveaway, first make sure you are following all of that social media platform’s rules on giveaways, and then make sure that your audience is being driven to your page and your page only (even better, your website).
Thank you for reading this blog post. We welcome questions, comments, or rebuttals.
Contact us via our contact form on our website, or on any of our social media channels @kadenavecomms!