It’s 2019, and the harsh reality is that your business needs to be online in some shape or form. You’re probably accustomed to using social media to stay connected with friends and family, and the Internet is a button away to answer any question you could possibly conjure up. Still, digital marketing from a business perspective can feel intimidating and confusing. By no means do you have to be a pro, but there are some best practices we recommend following to effectively market your business online while pursuing a digital marketing strategy. Here are some bad habits we recommend avoiding:
Automating and isolating can go hand in hand. Social media automation tools are a very valuable resource, but you can’t simply plan a bunch of content, schedule it, and then go on vacation. Like the quote, “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes,” social media and its trending topics move so quickly that what may have been relevant an hour ago could be a touchy subject now. The famous Live Nation example demonstrates this well.
When some of the staging collapsed at a Radiohead concert 7 years ago, with one person dead and three others hurt, an auto-scheduled tweet from Live Nation went out half an hour after they had announced the show had been cancelled:
This tweet remained up for 45 minutes before someone took it down.
The goal of social media conversations is to interact with your audience in a genuine way. By “setting and forgetting”, your followers can tell that there’s a lack of authenticity behind your posts, and their relationship with your brand can suffer as a result. This also corresponds with remembering to stay engaged on your business profiles, including liking and replying to comments, direct messages, and interacting with other accounts. These practices reflect well on your social media platforms, and help to grow your channels too!
2) Haphazard Hashtags
Hashtags are truly a cultural phenomenon and they can be a great resource if used properly and strategically. They’re used to group streams of content, making it easier to search using keywords in communities and conversations. For example, searching #yegrestaurants on Instagram will return content that people have posted and tagged to contribute to the Edmonton restaurant community. Hashtags seem easy enough, but they aren’t exactly intuitive. Try to avoid the following faux pas:
#hashtagsthatarelongandconfusing: If the object of hashtags is to group content, it must be searchable and concise in order for people to use them, and use them correctly. Keep them short and sweet
#notdoingyourresearch: This is twofold. Firstly, look up your hashtags beforehand to get an idea of their context and popularity. The sweet spot for a hashtag is specific enough to generate good activity for a wide audience, and not overly vague that it ends up being a black hole of content (e.g. use #yegbike instead of #bicycle). If you’re interested in creating a branded hashtag specific to your company, choose one that has a lesser amount of activity and make it yours to build from. One good example of this is Poppy Barley’s #luxuryforthepeople.
Secondly, make sure to get a good idea of what your hashtag actually means so that you’re not accidentally contributing to something inappropriate!
#spamminghashtags: Keep your hashtags relevant to your content. It might be tempting to use a multitude of popular hashtags to display your posts in as many areas as possible, but this makes your social campaigns feel more like spam than a contribution to the conversation. Feel free to use multiple hashtags, just ensure they align with the communities in which your business is actually a part of.
3) Not Targeting an Audience
The goal of digital marketing isn’t reaching an audience, it’s reaching the right audience. Defined target markets delve into the idea of demographics and psychographics getting narrower and narrower. The more specific your market, the more relevant your content, the easier you can convert. Digital marketing is used to serve your customers at all stages of their journey: build awareness and recognition of your brand, engage and nurture relationships with your potential clients, and create more touch-points to interact with current customers and improve their experience. In order to build relationships, think niche and connect with your minimum viable audience such that through your community you gain cheap and insightful methods to better understand your customer: talk with them, observe them, and analyze data.
4) Ignoring Analytics
There’s a great quote that says “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” -Dan Zarrella
Which is all too applicable to digital marketing. All platforms provide numerous analytics and insights for you to optimize your strategy, automatically! The success metrics we recommend tracking are:
Audience Growth Rate--in the form of new followers across all platforms.
Average Engagement Rate-- in the form of the number of engagement actions (e.g., likes, shares, comments) a post receives relative to your total number of followers.
Conversion Rate-- in the form of contact forms completed, newsletter sign-ups, purchases made, download of content, etc.
Don’t get too caught up in the numbers, but do let them guide your strategy on an ongoing basis. Having a good idea of your audiences’ behaviour will help drive your digital marketing success while ensuring all your efforts aren’t put to waste!
All of these tips we’ve compiled as a result of our own digital marketing mishaps. It’s not easy, but it is absolutely worthwhile to champion the online presence of your brand. Our number one suggestion? Create content that makes you happy before you hit post.
Still feeling overwhelmed by digital marketing? Fear not. You’re an expert in your field, not necessarily in marketing your business. Digitally Solid is a 6-month program where women entrepreneurs can get hands-on experience using strategy and technology to build their businesses. Not sure if it’s right for you? We’re holding an info session webinar on August 28th to outline the curriculum and its benefits. Register here!