5 Ways to Waste Your Social Media Budget

An old adage haunted marketers for decades. “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted,” the saying went, “The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Fortunately, now we do. Experience and metrics make it possible for brand managers to mitigate waste and create cost-effective social media campaigns. While a recent survey found marketers are well aware they’re still squandering funds—blowing at least a quarter of their budgets on the wrong channels or strategies—the study also indicated an eagerness to whittle that waste down.

So how are smart marketers making every dollar count? For starters, by steering clear of at least five major pitfalls.

1. Too Stretched on Social Media Networks

    Each social media network is unique, attracting a specific type of user. Professionals flock to LinkedIn. Do-it-yourselfers trade ideas on Pinterest. Periscope is home to live streamers around the world, while Instagram is known for its foodies, fashionistas, and artists. With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and a growing list of others to choose from, maintaining a presence on every channel is simply impractical.

    A good rule of thumb is to define your target audience and select the three most suitable networks. Next, be sure to maintain customer centricity while prepping ads and social media posts. When brands treat digital connections as relationships, taking the time to understand how users prefer to communicate, that audience will be more likely to pay attention.

    2. Putting Branding First

      Yes, brand recognition is important. “You want people to like and respect your business so they’ll be more likely to buy your products or services,” author and business coach Jeremy Hendon says. But emphasizing branding (or worse yet, constantly rebranding) is generally a bad approach to social media marketing. That’s because the best branding happens naturally, over time, as more and more people purchase and like your product or service.

      “What your potential customers really want is for you to understand and then solve whatever problem they might have. If you sell a food, people are probably worried about whether that food will taste great and make them healthier. If you sell consulting services, your potential clients probably care about whether you understand their business and can help them earn more money. And if you sell clothes, then your customers probably want you to make them look pretty, sexy, or slimmer,” Hendon says.

      Promoting the brand name comes second—not first—because, as Hendon says, “If people love your product or service, then they’re going to remember your brand and probably tell their friends about it.” So start by acknowledging what your customers are thinking and inviting them to show how your company helps alleviate their problems.

      Collecting authentic success stories will do far more to create emotional connections and appeal to new customers than any logo ever could. For more on that, check out this article on social proof.

      3. Squandering Money on Market Research

        Knowing your target audience is essential. Outsourcing market research may not be. This is often a waste of money, say the agency masterminds at Story Block Media, “especially if your business has an established customer base and you’re trying to reach more of the same type of customer. Instead of spending money on private data or costly custom studies (which can often be biased one way or another), simply take a moment to talk with your existing customers. Use tools like surveys, email marketing campaigns, and personal outreach to learn more about their likes, dislikes, and pain points.”

        In addition, a social media aggregation engine can help your team locate existing, relevant content about your brand by using keywords and tags across the networks. This candid UGC is probably the most valuable picture of your brand you’ll ever get – and an incredible opportunity to show prospective customers the very best of how your product works in real life.

        4. Pushing Ads No One Wants to See

          Through optimization, marketers have gotten better about targeting ads, but the Association of National Advertisers estimates only one-quarter of digital ad spend reaches actual people. And let’s be honest, most of those people don’t even want to see the ad. In fact, millions of fatigued consumers have installed ad blockers – happy to avoid messages they say are intrusive, intelligence-insulting, or simply uninteresting.

          As it stands, AdWeek reports, “People are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad, so stop trying to deliver messages that no one wants in the most efficient way possible.” Instead, rather than pay to interrupt a consumer’s online experience, smart marketers earn attention by offering something of value. “Content marketing, experiential marketing, and influencer marketing are all proving to be effective alternatives,” AdWeek suggests.

          Related Read: “Why Nobody Believes Your Ads”

          5. Buying Fake Followers

            Money can’t buy you friends, but it hasn’t stopped some people from trying. Even major celebrities like Obama, Oprah, and Kim Karadashian are reported to have purchased “likes” on social media. Not only does this practice risk a number of complications, it’s money down the drain. Sure, those phony followers may boost your numbers, but the reality is they’re not going to contribute to your page, their presence will skew analytics, and social networks typically crack down on such tactics, anyway.

            As Digital Marketing Consultant Neil Patel says, “Buying fake followers feels good at first. You see a big number and get excited. But in the end, they do nothing for you. They can’t convert because they’re not real. And they won’t engage with your social profiles well because they’re often bots…You might as well just throw your money directly into the trash can.”

            Instead, take the time to build a strong network of engaged individuals, because real followers are always better!

            With social media marketing, it’s possible to achieve stunning results, even with limited funds. In fact, you probably already have a team of brand ambassadors working for you, at no cost. More than 3 billion people use social media -- a million new users born every day – and more than half say simply seeing peer content inspires product discovery and purchase.

            Unique, compelling content is the holy grail of social media marketing, and the great news is that it’s readily available. To see how visual marketers are using social media hubs to integrate UGC into brand messaging, check out the gallery or try TwineSocial free today.

            For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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