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.
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.
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...
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.