In 2015, most organizations understand that social media is a viable marketing channel. Although social media is a great way to reach your audience, being on it just to be on it won’t do your organization any good.

Think about your biggest competition on social media. It’s not other organizations or competitors, rather the things people care about such as cat memes, engagement announcements, and all things Kardashian.

If you want any hope of reaching your audience on social media, here are three mistakes you must avoid.

1

Treating Social Media Like it’s Magic

Back in my intern days, I got the opportunity to manage my very first Twitter campaign. Since I didn’t know exactly how the platform worked, I blasted off my first message and literally stared at the screen, waiting to see what would happen.

I’ll cut to the chase, nothing happened, and the world was seemingly unmoved by my message.

My takeaway? Social media isn’t a magic wand. You can’t blast any message out and expect it to go viral. Listen to what your audience cares about and then cater your messages to them. Check out these free social media listening tools, so you can keep up.

Also keep in mind, unlike an email, a tweet or Facebook message isn’t waiting in your audience’s inbox, so if they’re getting coffee, asleep or in a meeting, they’ll probably miss it. Overcome this by posting content more than once. Pull out different quotes, facts or questions each time so you don’t become the spam of the social web.

Next, don’t treat social media like the lone course in your marketing meal. Pair it with your email, SEO and event efforts for maximum results. Your goal isn’t for your message to go viral. It’s for you to reach the right audience.

Skipping the Visual

Today, even the “non-visual” social networks like Facebook and Twitter are making photos and other graphics more prominent on their sites. Did you know photos on Facebook receive an interaction rate of 87% from fans vs a 4% interaction rate for other types of posts?

Between the surge of cat memes and infographics, the Internet has spoken, go visual or go home.

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What if you don’t have any visuals? Don’t fret, the Internet is full of free tools.

Flickr

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Need a free image? Check and see if Flickr has it. Just make sure you search through The Commons library and filter photos that can be used for commercial use. Having appealing images and a lawsuit can ruin your day so make sure that you’ve carefully read the guidelines for posting any photo you find.

Canva

Canva is the tool for non-graphic designers with a dream to create visual content that doesn’t suck. You can find everything you need from free fonts, layouts and graphics, plus you can even upload your own photos. If you don’t see any free graphics that tickle your fancy, don’t worry, Canva’s premium items cost only $1 each!

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The best part about Canva is that you don’t have to wonder how your images will look on different platforms. Before you start designing, you can choose the specs based on the place where the photo will go such as Pinterest, Twitter, the Facebook Cover, or the general social media option.

Piktochart

Itching to create an infographic but don’t know where to start? Piktochart is the infographic maker gift that keeps giving.

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Not only do they have tons of graphics, layouts and colors, it caters to non-graphic designers so you don’t have to worry about your lack of design skills. Did I mention they have a free and a paid version?

Posting Me, Myself & I, Content

What social media manager hasn’t had an executive request that they post more content that promotes a product or service, only to see engagement and traffic take a nosedive? People don’t join social networks for your brand’s message. That’s right, unless you’re Starbucks posting daily Instagram-ready photos of your amazing mochas, you can’t talk about yourself all of the time.

Don’t believe me? Most people around the world would not care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow. Ouch.

Before you get off of social media, take a minute to rework your strategy. Provide your audience a reason to follow you on social media. Whether it’s best practices, or an occasional good laugh, you need to provide value to your audience. Share resources with them and help solve their problems. No one wants to be sold to 24/7.

Learn why social calendars are more powerful than email marketing and Google Ads combined. 

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Image source: Bad Sentinel