Social media is a pretty great marketing tool for associations, non-profits and small businesses, but it’s not perfect and it comes with its own set of challenges. Challenges can be a good thing when they push you and your organization to confront flaws or pursue creative options to get around them, but when all they do is waste time and resources, no one has fun.
We’ve put together a list of three challenges that online marketers inevitably face when striving for success and added some advice for overcoming these obstacles.
Challenge: Finding Content
Advice: Social media is a constantly hungry beast, and by that we mean your audience is always going to be looking to digest new content from your accounts. If your organization is not posting consistently, it will quickly fall from relevance and crucial audience members will lose interest in your message. The one problem with this is finding enough content to serve on a daily or weekly basis (depending on the platform).
But do not fear, there’s lots of content to be had, you just need to know where to find it. Lists can be a social media marketer’s best friend and they come in handy with solving this challenge. Make lists of where you have received content before and check them regularly. If you’re just starting out, here are some places you can mine for content gold: Your followers (they’re a wealth of knowledge in your field/industry/cause), LinkedIn groups (where people are passionate and vocal), media outlets (newspaper are always churning out hard and soft news that’s relevant), comment sections (good source of new perspectives for blog posts) and the people you see every day (whether it’s members, volunteers, staff or customers, ask them what’s new; you’d be surprised about all the interesting tidbits you can get out of it). Last, but not least, take some time, brainstorm ideas and create content yourself! That’s always the best kind!
Challenge: Gaining Followers/Likes/Views/Etc.
Advice: This is a major source of stress for many a social media manager the world over. If no one is listening, it doesn’t matter if you’re saying the coolest thing in the best way. The keys here are to focus on quality before quantity, be a social butterfly and stay patient.
When you are connecting with people on social media, make sure they are members of your target audience. For example, if you decide to follow 300 people on Twitter, but 250 of them have a vague or non-existent tie to your organization’s mission, you’re not getting value from your efforts or loyal followers for the future. Craft a description of the perfect member of your target audience and find them on your chosen platform. They will be more likely to follow back, engage with you and encourage others to do likewise.
The second piece of advice is to be a social butterfly, which means to engage, engage, engage! Talk on Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups, mention people and other organizations and share the content of other accounts (while attributing it to them, of course). The more you become familiar to people, the more likely they are to see you as both friendly and useful. In many cases, this will lead them to connect with you as well.
Lastly, attempt to be as patient as possible. Great social media accounts aren’t built in a day, unless of course you’re a multi-national super company like McDonald’s or Coca Cola. It’s going to take time to attract followers, but the pay off is great in the long run. Keep being consistent, relevant and engaging and connections will follow. Do not abandon your efforts after a few short months of discouraging months because that decision is often short-sighted and damaging for future marketing initiatives, both online and off.
Challenge: Battling the Time Crunch
Advice: Some days are busier than others; those are usually the days when social media gets left by the wayside. Blogs are left stagnant, Twitter feeds remains dormant and Facebook posts begins to go stale. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; consistency is an ever-crucial element of social media success and even one or two forgotten days can set you back weeks. However, there are time-saving methods that can help you be more efficient and effective.
First and foremost, always make a content calendar. Content calendars help you organize your thoughts at the beginning of a week or month so you’re not scrambling around every day trying to find content or things to post. It may take an hour or two to build, but a well-done content calendar will save you at least double that during a busy period at the office.
Set up a Hootsuite account. Hootsuite you to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts ahead of time, which helps you prepare for a busy week. For example, if you are heading to a conference or stuck in meetings all day for the next three days, schedule your daily tweets with Hootsuite. This help you accomplish social media consistency while not having to stay at the office late to achieve it.
Social media is one place where hoarding is good, especially when you’re looking at a packed schedule. Capitalize on down time or a light work load by writing blog posts, finding shareable content or putting together interesting visuals and storing them away for busy times. This will help you quickly post things for when the unexpected comes your way.