Everyone knows that social media offers businesses and individuals an excellent opportunity to market themselves more effectively and engage with customers, clients and fans in an eminently direct manner. However, understanding its power is not enough to secure success in the social realm; you also need the right strategies to turn your presence on popular platforms to your advantage. Half the battle is knowing when you are making mistakes in your management of social media, so here are a few of the main strategic missteps that might be hurting your chances of gaining traction at the moment. You are using the wrong platform While you might assume that a digitally engaged audience will be spread across every major social service, in truth there are demographics that cluster around certain sites and apps more readily while shunning the alternatives. People are tribal by nature, so if you fail to take into account the kinds of users that are attractive to a particular platform, you may well be wasting your efforts to build momentum. Take Facebook for example; as well as seeing a fall in users in certain regions over the past few months, it has also cemented itself as the social network for older generations. This means that as a marketing platform, it is far more effective for brands aiming to appeal to people aged 35 and over. If your business sells home insurance, high value electronics or gym memberships, Facebook is still an attractive prospect especially where Facebook advertising is concerned. If your products and services lean towards a younger audience, you might want to look elsewhere to engage with Gen Z-ers. Picking the perfect platform for you social efforts is key Instagram is arguably the platform to choose if you want to start making waves with the most active, influential group of consumers in the social sphere. It also provides the most diverse array of tools to achieve engagement, which is something that shall be discussed in more depth a little later. Snapchat is a smaller fry in comparison, but seems to have staying power and delivers the instant content hit that so many users crave. Ultimately it pays to diversify your options, experiment with different services and see where you make the most impact. You are producing ineffective posts Clicks, likes and shares are the currency that fuels the social media economy. Earn enough interactions and your posts will float higher up the food chain, appear in more feeds and develop an organic momentum of their own. Miss the mark and no matter how much time and effort you have put into producing the content, you will not see a worthwhile return on your investment. If you keep seeing your social media posts sink without a trace, it is a good sign that you need to change up your strategy and try something new. Multimedia content tends to generate more engagement than simple text, but it is best to combine the two to achieve the desired effect of elevating your posts to new heights. Whether you post images of your products and events, create videos to market your latest offerings or use stories to craft time-limited explorations of life within your organisations, it is a good idea to tweak your posting habits to fit in with the expectations of contemporary audiences. Engaging social media content comes in all forms Of course even a finely tuned multimedia post can drop without garnering attention if it is not couched in the right way. Key to this is the use of hashtags, in combination with the right kind of copy to accompany it. Both of these aspects help with searchability, allowing users to find posts organically and letting you piggyback on popular trends. However, you also need to ensure that the content is contextualised effectively, with succinctness and sensitive use of language also being vital. An additional way to make your posts more engaging and effective is to add an element of interaction. The quickest way to achieve this is with a poll; a feature that has been embraced by most of the major platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Ask followers a question to get a response, earn attention and encourage feedback. Simplicity is always the best approach, especially when using time-sensitive polling within Instagram Stories, for example. This means that it is not something you should overthink and since polls can disappear after a set period, you can toy with different approaches to see what works and what does not. You are being too passive Social media services let you pump content out into the world and develop posts which you think will represent your brand in a positive way. This clearly takes care of the ‘media’ part of the phrase, but can lead to organisations overlooking the ‘social’ aspect. If you just see these platforms as a place for publishing in a passive way, then you are making a serious mistake. It makes much more sense to be proactive and reap the rewards of engaging with your audience directly, rather than sitting back and expecting everything to fall into your lap. It is likely that there are already discussions going on about your business in the social sphere, so why not take the reins and steer the conversation yourself, rather than allowing it to play out without any input? This is even more important in the event that people take the time to engage with you without being prompted. Questions, queries or simple comments which are left on your posts or directed at your DMs deserve a reaction. If your presence is relatively small and your follower numbers are limited, it should be simple to manage this in a responsive, personal way. Users will really appreciate when you return the favour and reply, or take the time to search for their indirect comment and provide a helpful, entertaining or otherwise engaging response. Get proactive with your social media engagement Your tone is dull or inconsistent It is surprisingly easy to inject a bit of personality into your social media presence, yet so few firms take the time to do this with any real commitment. Whether you are working in consumer retail selling mobile phones, or providing content for industry-specific equipment such as eye bolts, it’s possible to do this. The flip side of this issue comes when the tone you adopt is too varied, veering from dry and practical to quirky and kitsch, often in the space of the same post. Being inconsistent is just as problematic as being dull, yet if you fail to address either of these concerns then your social efforts will continue to flounder. The most suitable strategy is to adopt a cohesive identity for your brand across all social platforms. This not only needs to be appropriately engaging for the kind of audience you are targeting; it also needs to operate effectively whether it is used to promote something new or respond to a query made by a prospective customer. Consistency and personality pay dividends for user engagement As with the other aspects of managing your social media presence, a little bit of trial and error may be necessary to work out exactly what tone is best. Furthermore if you have several people sharing access to your social accounts, they all need to be on the same page when it comes to the tone that is required across posts, as this could otherwise lead to the kinds of inconsistencies mentioned above. You are ignoring paid ad opportunities The lure of social media for marketing purposes is so great in part because all major platforms are free to use as a commercial venture. For established brands this means that it is easy to engage an audience of millions with posts that cost nothing to publish. In spite of this, it is not a good idea for smaller organisations to adopt a similar approach and simply assume that they will build up a following organically if they keep plugging away with their content efforts. This is where paying to promote your posts using the baked-in ad services of the platforms you use becomes essential. It means that you do not simply have to trust that your precisely honed posts will find their feet on their own merits; you can give them a head start by paying to put them in front of the demographic you are targeting. Most importantly, this type of marketing is inexpensive, especially if you occupy a specific market niche and are not in direct competition with significantly larger rivals. Do not be afraid to pay to promote your social media presence Targeting can also be carried out according to the location of users, as well as their specific interests and their past interactions with ads and branded content. There is very little guesswork required once you have got the hang of creating promoted posts on social media services, although again it is affordable enough to allow for experimentation in the early stages. There are many more reasons why your social strategies may not be finding their mark. Each case is different and the solutions may be equally diverse. The only major mistake you can make is to continue to do nothing to ameliorate this situation. At a time when there are so many analytical tools to help you identify weak points and quantify successes in the social media ecosystem, there is no excuse for inaction. Image Sources: Geralt, Erik_Lucatero, Geralt, Rawpixel, Rawpixel.