As you all know Copyblogger took down its Facebook page. The reason, it said, was that the website wasn’t getting traffic from Facebook. Engagement levels were about a trickle and they were unable to achieve their ultimate purpose – conversions.
It was quite a bold step. I mean, how many people can take their brand’s presence off any social media platform, let alone one as Goliath-ish as Facebook? Most of them are even present on Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Vine and the likes with barely any action. Whether they have any content to engage their target audience with is a different story.
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Brands have repeatedly committed many cardinal sins since the inception of social media. They were probably making these mistakes before too; only we were spared the trauma of being exposed to them. These sins result in a dismal show of numbers, which in turn leads to brands dishing out step fatherly treatment to their properties. (Note: This post is not one which condones or justifies Copyblogger’s move.)
Below are 5 sins which 80% brands commit online, which is why they get a cumulative engagement (traffic, shares, subscriptions, comments, conversions) of about 20% of the internet population:
Being Meformers instead of Reformers
According to renowned social media expert Ann Tran, only 20% users on social media are informers while the remaining 80% are meformers. Meformers are brands (and people) who talk about themselves all the time. They share only their personal blog posts (which, as you guessed, are all about themselves), updates only about their products and why they think people should buy them, awards which they won and so on.
Viewers get bored very quickly. Informers, on the other hand, do everything with 1 person in mind – the viewer. This viewer may be an existing or potential customer. Informers not only inform viewers about happenings in their fields but also add their perspective to it. They regularly publish tips and hacks to enrich and and entertain viewers. So whom would you rather engage with – the meformer or the informer?
Selling to Strangers
Remember how uncomfortable you were when a salesman whom you had never seen before forcibly tried to sell you a car which you didn’t know much about? The same discomfort is felt by people when a brand starts selling to them at first connect. 90% brands consider the 1st connection by someone with their brand (e-mail subscription, follow on social media etc.) as a chance to sell immediately.
And selling doesn’t only include monetary transactions. A brand asking followers to promote it is also selling. And the only way someone will do it without being paid is if the brand has built a bond with them. And if you’re thinking “Okay, I don’t need to build a relationship with my followers. I’d rather pay money for promotions”, one or both of the below things will happen:
- You will end up spending a lot of money to promote
- Despite spending precious money, your brand will barely get any traction.
Failure to track campaign performance
The biggest advantage of the digital space is amplified reach at nominal costs. Another huge advantage is the ability to measure each action taken. Even if you don’t want to pay money, there are plenty of free tools that give you a fair estimate of how your digital properties are performing. So whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your website or e-mail newsletter, everything can be tracked for effectiveness.
With the basic tools which each social media platform offers and Google Analytics, you can gauge what is effective and what isn’t, and accordingly invest in what works and discard what doesn’t. But no! Brands would prefer spending lots of money on running an online campaign and being in the dark about its performance.
Heavily depending on what don’t belong to them
The sole aim of most campaigns has been to increase Facebook page likes, Twitter or Instagram followers and generating traffic (regardless of relevance) for websites. “Like Our Facebook Page”, “Follow Us on Twitter / Instagram” or black hat techniques like link farming to game search engines and improve page ranking… they all worked… until the owner of the property decided to change the rules.
For instance, Facebook declared that brands could no longer use ‘Like Our Page’ as a condition in a campaign and Google penalized many websites for unethical practices. What happens? Social media managers cry foul and go about changing their campaigns to suit the new rules. Then it happens again… and again. Wake up people! Just because you have created an account on others’ properties does not mean you own them.
Spend time instead on developing your personal online properties: your website and e-mail subscriptions. These are the only things that belong to you and which no algorithm change can take away from you. Focus your energy on developing a user friendly website with brilliant content and easy navigation. Build e-mails which are useful enough for their subscribers to refer friends to your newsletters. Let other properties work for you, not vice versa.
No value addition
This is the last, but probably the biggest mistake which brands (and people) commit. It is the main reason why brands witness dismal performances in the online space and end up pulling the plug. As stated in point #1, brands are too full of themselves to hear what the audience wants.
And even if brands do listen, why should they answer people who aren’t paying for their products? Why should they freely part with precious knowledge, right? Wrong! The internet has enamored us because it lets us find anything we are looking for. Successful business owners are sharing a lot of knowledge for free. And this act has made them authorities in their fields, further adding to their success.
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With this authority comes a trust which the audience develops in them, and that trust translates into revenue. However, most brands are still posting lame generic photos on their profiles and talking about why their products are amazing! And no one is listening.
Every mistake which a brand makes (whether online or offline) is somehow related to the points stated above. Brands are just beginning to understand social media, but users are way ahead of them. The smartest brands (and people) have adapted quickly to the dynamic environment and have been rewarded handsomely.
The quicker that brands realize their follies and correct them, the better their chances of being noticed. Otherwise they will be left shouting on top of their voices, fighting to be heard over one another in this already noisy and cluttered digital world.
What do you think of these points? And do you have any more mistakes of brands to add to the list? Do share your views in the comments section.