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The 3 Worst Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business (And What You Should Do Instead)

New media has changed the way we interact and communicate.

To understand and adapt to these changes, "social media experts" popped up to help organization's evolve their marketing communications accordingly.

But while their intentions might be good, their results aren't. Because having more Twitter followers and a high Klout score won't necessarily help you get more website traffic, bring in more qualified leads or increase sales.

The tools and technology may have changed. But the underlying marketing principles still apply.

Here are 3 of the worst ways to use social media to grow your business, and what you should do instead.


Social Media Prism - Germany V2.0 Image courtesy of Ethority


Bad Strategy #1: Creating Too Many Social Networks

According to "social media experts", you should be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and every other network possible.

Marketing Pilgrim recently reported that the "the average large company has 178 corporate-owned social media accounts".

The problem with this strategy should be obvious. Who's going to manage all of these? How can you really do a great job on ALL of them? And which accounts are your customers supposed to follow and interact with?

If you want to see big improvements in growth, then you should't split your budget, hours or focus into too many things at once.

Corrective Strategy #1: Invest MORE resources in to LESS tactics.

Diversifying your financial investments is a great way to minimize risk. But when you minimize risk, you're also minimizing the possible returns. So if you want to grow quicker, then you need to put all your eggs into one basket.

The same thing applies in social media. Identify the top performing channels and invest more into them. Of course, you'll have to expand into other channels to keep reaching new people. But that doesn't mean you should "spray and pray" too much.

If you want to grow visitors to your blog, then produce one exceptional blog post each week. If you want to grow your email list or database, then make that your primary call-to-action (and don't even bother promoting your Twitter or Facebook accounts). If your customer demographic doesn't really match Pinterest, or if your competition is already dominating it, then don't even bother using it.


Bad Strategy #2: Relying on Others to Share for You

Getting people to share your blog posts, or Retweet your updates is one of the best things about social media marketing. It exposes your content to new people, and turns customers and fans into ambassaders of your brand.

But serendipity is not a marketing strategy. And it doesn't matter how many social media buttons you plaster on your site. You can't sit around and wait for others to do the work for you.

Social media for large companies is easy, because everyone already knows who you are. They'll follow, interact, and pass along your stuff (even if it's not that good).

New or smaller organizations can't rely on lucky "word-of-mouth" to significantly impact your bottom line.

Corrective Strategy #2: Drive visitors to specific points of conversion.

You'll get better results if your activities more focused and deliberate. Funnel people from one marketing asset (your existing website traffic, email list, offline displays, or another social network) to the new place you're trying to grow.

But don't just refer people to your homepage or Facebook Timeline. Direct them from a specific marketing channel to a matching landing page, tab or update. And increase performance by aligning an appropriate offer that this target segment cares deeply about. Use offers and incentives that appeal to their emotional triggers, and you'll get better response rates.

Another way to to drive more users is to piggyback off other's success. Which leads us to #3...


Bad Strategy #3: Focusing Too Much on Easy, Ineffective Tactics

Engagement is a vital step in the marketing process.

But joining Twitter chats, leaving 3-sentence blog comments and doing a lot of manual outreach is ineffective and inefficient.

Instead, you should position yourself so people want to come find you. That way you're pulling people in, and they'll be more receptive to engaging with you.

But how do you do that? Especially if you're new, small, or virtually unknown?

Corrective Strategy #3: Focus on business development, not just community management.

Community management is important if you already have a huge audience. But if you want to grow, then you need to focus on business development and create partnerships with other entities.

Maybe you can provide content to a larger media property. Or donate time and money to an important nonprofit that will position yourself in front of affluent or influential people.

Either way, the goal of business development is to use these new tools and technologies to create partnerships with important people and organizations.

It's more difficult because there's no pre-defined script. And it takes more time to develop trust and figure out how to help each other properly. So you won't see quick, fast returns.

But the long-term ROI is much higher.

And it will contribute more to your overall business growth than a Twitter chat or blog comment ever will.

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 29 Posted 4 years ago theaLight

    This has been very helpful especially since I'm planning on relying the advertising on this small business I'm going to put up. Thanks for this.

  • Kelly Wheat's picture
    Mar 20 Posted 4 years ago Kelly Wheat

    I found this very helpful, as my company is just now dipping our toe into the social media world (I don't work for early adopters!)  As the sole marketing person, I am concerned about choosing the correct social media channels for our type of busines - we're B2B, so some of what is right for B2C just doesn't make sense for us. I'm always learning. Valuable advice, thanks!

  • crocuss's picture
    Mar 5 Posted 4 years ago crocuss

    Nice post and totally agree with you. Quantity is very important for us if you are sell lot of apps but in this apps no extra fetures then your apps is useless for customer. Regardless of all the great technologies and new apps we have out there, QUALITY not quantity. If you are Visit : Moability this company provides the iphone, ipad, blackberry and other mobile company mobile apps.



  • Feb 10 Posted 4 years ago Konstantin Slavutin

    This is a great article, that pinpoints the misunderstandings of multiple brands in engaging on social media. Less is certainly more.

  • Oct 9 Posted 4 years ago npacificcompany

    Thanks Brad, its definitely crucial to have good intent and build authentic brand equity for for the long term, even if the short term ROI is not impressive. Gots to be real these days. Cheers!


  • spearson's picture
    Oct 1 Posted 4 years ago spearson

     Brad this post is wonderful.  Social Media engagement can be overwhelming without an outlined strategy and you have tackled the most important components here. I especially appreciate your explanation of corrective strategies.

  • Randy Milanovic's picture
    Sep 17 Posted 4 years ago kayakcreative

    Excellent article. I often encounter prospects who want it all done for them. It baffles me that so many business managers jump on a possible sale but ignore online leads

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 17 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Hi, thanks for your comment!  And I'm glad I could help!  If you're solo, then I would suggest picking one or two max (that are most important to your business) and then focus on getting email subscribers. Here's a post with more in-depth information on social media marketing.

  • Sep 17 Posted 4 years ago Brent Skinner

    This is a helpful entry. Thank you, Brad. The third corrective strategy is especially savvy. The question is probably this: At what point does an organization know that it must switch to community management?

  • Sep 17 Posted 4 years ago Sunita Biddu (not verified)

    A focused post. Thanks. And 3rd corrective strategy just made me rethink and rebuild my social media strategy to focus more on business development for some of my startups :)

  • clbrightwell's picture
    Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago clbrightwell

    Thank you for this article. I have listened to dozens of podcasts of experts who say be everywhere. However, my business is just me, I am employed full time, and I just can't keep up with every social media network. I have been frustrated but I believe your tips will get me on the right path.

  • Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago loup1818

    Very good top Do's & Don'ts for sucuessful Social Media use.

  • Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago David Tong Excellent article, carpet bombing is never a solution... Thanks.
  • Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago realtybiznews

    Excellent Brad ! All points are well taken



  • Sep 12 Posted 4 years ago tonyveroeven


    Great Article and I agree. I don't know that I would say these have always been bad strategies. (Well, maybe #1 has always been bad...)

    They may have been what was best practice just a few years ago. All of this [Social Media] is changing so quickly that I'd say your article is more about pointing out how social media marketing best practices have evolved.

    By the way, check spelling of "ambassaders" I think you meant "ambassadors".

    Keep up the great work!


  • Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago WARREN SOLOMON

    I think a lot of folks today adopt the "this-is-easy/fun" approach with social media and try to shy away from the legwork (the basics) of getting to the customer with a properly priced product.  "Spraying and praying" has somehow become the new basis for identifying KPIs and the CEOs and Boards of Directors will catch on soon!

  • Jurriaan Schokker's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago Jurriaan Schokker

    Tx for the additional information, Brad!

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Thanks! I definately believe social media can help drive sales indirectly - but like you said, too many people are chasing the latest trend when it doesn't really mean much at the end of the day.

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Thank you Mahendra!

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Thank you Dodie - agreed!

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Thanks Ramya!

  • FixCourse's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago FixCourse

    Hi Jurrian, thanks for the comment. RE: the 178 accounts - here's the original article from Marketing Pilgrim.

    "Twitter has the highest number with an average of 39.2 accounts per company and Facebook is right in there with 29.9."

    I think it's different product lines and departments, etc. claiming their own "company accounts".

  • Ramya's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago Ramya

    Hi smith...Thanks for enlightening us in terms of usage of social media networks for sake of business. I agree with your point that instead of having too many accounts in social media networks, it would be better if we able to choose right channel and try to put efforts on it for the flourishing business.  

  • Jurriaan Schokker's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago Jurriaan Schokker

    Tx for the article! Can you elaborate on your first point? Am I to understand that there are 178 different SM-platforms per company? For example, Coca Cola's numerous national FB-accounts count only as one in your opinion?

  • Mahendra's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago Mahendra

    Thanks Brad, it's a great article, creating too many social networks can generate back links to the site but you won’t able to manage it in a right way, so instead of focusing on all the social sites sits, it’s better to concentrate on limited social media sites where we can get the right people, thanks once again Brad for sharing it.


  • Sep 11 Posted 4 years ago Dodie Preston

    Well written, Brad!

    Marketing for social media---as in print---should be targeted, scripted, focused, and each piece scheduled to be released at an optimum date so as to squarely "land on its feet."


  • TashWord's picture
    Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago TashWord

    Excellent post, Brad. I see so many people jumping on every bandwagon and aiming for the most followers/likes/etc and forgetting that followers/likes/etc don't pay any bills - it's sales that matters and sales come from more than good social media profiles.


    I like the idea of driving people to good content rather than hoping the social media world will promote your work for you (as much as I'd love others to promote me, lol!)


  • Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago gmbdaly

    Really enjoyed your post and totally agree. Regardless of all the great technologies and new apps we have out there, QUALITY not quantity.  One should always use only what a team can manage, otherwise your campaign will get lost and impossible to manage at all.

  • Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago Lexie Forman- Ortiz

    Great post. I think it's very easy to get caught up in  how many followers you have or need. It is important to remember quality not quantity. Social media is taking a major roll in almost all aspects of the business world, it's important to use it to your advantage. http://www.smartrecruiters.com/static/blog/social-presence-attracts-talent/

  • Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago CXthecloud

    Great article, Brad! Indeed, focus is so important when it comes to social media--thanks for sharing these great tips! 

  • AmyKnowing's picture
    Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago AmyKnowing

    This is an excellent post. As I stare at my hootsuite account,I am overwhelmed. even though it is meant to simplify my life, I have created a mess with a maze of social media for marketing. Time to trim the tree and  put more eggs in fewer baskets!

  • Kent Ong's picture
    Sep 10 Posted 4 years ago Kent Ong

    When we do have goal, we won't create too many social networks, or join too many social networking sites, create too many social media marketing strategies.

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