4 Common Old School Social Marketing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Today's reminder is brought to you by the folks living in reality.  While many of you get this, this is for that 20% that still need to get a clue.

Things have changed!fail1

 It is no secret that online marketing today is different from traditional marketing.

Gone are the days of simply strolling into town with a bag of goodies and knocking on every door with a slick speech and making a run for it at the end of the day with an empty bag and some cash.  Today, we can see you coming.  We've heard about you, and what you said before is documented online.  You cannot expect good results and long term customers from in-your-face-all-the-time "sell, sell, sell" pushes in social media.

It is important in the online marketing scene to intersect with potential customers.  By engaging, interacting, and offering tips and ideas, trust can be built that results in sales. 

In social media marketing this type of online interaction has been coined "relationship marketing".  What makes relationship marketing different from traditional marketing is its focus on customer acquisition and retention through satisfaction rather than direct sales tactics. It emphasizes the necessity of maintaining long-term customer relationships beyond intrusive promotional messages. Both inbound digital marketing efforts and social media fall within the realm of relationship marketing.

So how exactly is modern marketing different from its traditional counterpart?

While traditional marketers conveyed their messages through direct advertising, relational marketers engage their prospective customers through meaningful conversations that makes the company more human, and approachable. This approach realizes the value of relational equity with current and prospective customers, and uses technology both before and after sales to reach and retain them.

Having outlined an overview of what relational marketing is, here are a few common errors that marketers tend to make today in the digital arena. These happen mainly when companies try to apply the old principles of traditional marketing to modern digital and social marketing.

4 Common Social Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. The Hard Sell

The hard sell does not work in social media very well simply because an intelligent customer is alert to the ways and tactics of salesmen and gets turned off by being sold.   As well, users of social media are on social media networks to socialize, so a hard, continual, repetitive pitch to "buy now" is disruptive and often unwanted.  A customer prefers information on the ways in which a product can solve the problem they. This calls for marketers serving as a industry resource with the information they share.

The key is offering value and assistance, basically being helpful as opposed to high pressure and totally product feature oriented.  People will want to learn about your product if they feel the company is reputable and friendly.  This means the social perception of a company is growing in importance.  Not simply a online review, but based on real and current interaction.  The information you offer should speak of your unique value proposition and competitive advantage in ways that solve buyer problems, not as a infomercial.  The difference between the two is critical to understand.

2. The Fast Sellfail2

By coming in fast and slick with a message that is too good to be true, sales for the week or maybe a month may be up, but you will be found out and you will not last.  You cannot go to "new towns" where there is no knowledge of you.   Everything you say online can and will be found.  Reviews and customers stories will make their way into Google results so don't think for a minute you can sell snake oil long term.

The first word in social media is "social."  What you offer, what you do, and what you say is available for the world to see, so drop your fast lines and develop a plan that can be sustained long term.  Solve real problems that people have, not artificial ones you create!  Identify the "pain points" in business and life that people have, and outline how with data, testimonies, and real examples how your product or service has helped users overcome those pains.  People will look these up, so take the time to outline them thoroughly as these can be the proof points that build trust and lead to a long term customer relationship with your business.

3. Removing Negative Comments

No one really likes interacting with disgruntled customers.  The fact is, though, that it happens, whether it is from no fault of the your company or actual product problems.  A big way to escalate a situation, however, is to delete negative social comments.  In today's day, deleting is not going to work or last.  Someone, somewhere likely saw it and by deleting it, it only raises the question of whether the company is hiding something.  Instead, negative comments must be dealt with.

A good tactic is to try and post a public reply that is helpful and that attempts to direct the user to off-line methods to move the conversation out of the public sphere so that the details can be addressed.  Something like, "I'm sorry to hear of your issues, if you can send the details to [email protected]" our team will be able to review and look into it."  This offers the public a way to see your response and can actually build credibility.  I have seen where loyal customers come to the aid and chime in with comments and assistance as well, thus making a social "issue" actually into a show of community strength and loyalty to the company.

If the situation escalates and the user will not stop, outlining in clear, yet polite terms that you are willing to continue the discussion offline but that this will need to stop on the page by reporting and/or blocking their further comments may be a last, final step that could need to be taken.  The key is that this is a very last step and it needs to be done publicly so that others watching can understand how you have walked through the steps to this point.  As well, having a outlined policy ahead of time can be a safeguard for you as well.

4. One Way Communication

If you are only broadcasting information and not responding to questions and comments, you're going to lose in the new digital marketing arena!  The key is to have active conversations with your prospects on the social networks where your prospects spend time.  Conversation means dialogue that is two way.

 Asking questions to find out what the needs and problems are that prospects face, and then offering insight and solutions is truly valuable.  The days of one way pitches are over when it comes to social media marketing.  Do not make the mistake of simply queuing up a series of messages and auto-deploying with no plan to monitor, respond, or attempt to engage.  Creating dialogue is critical in the social sphere and in the Facebook world in particular.


The bottom line:
be real, authentic and helpful.

A prospect is looking for help or suggestions to address their problems, not hype or hard sell.   While they may not be ready to buy at the moment, positive interactions can make them come back to buy when they are ready.   It's time to focus on marketing that the customer wants, and is comfortable with.  Make way for relationship marketing in your online plans.

YOUR TURN!  Thoughts?  What would you add?

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