People are using social media more and more all the time. Incredibly, nearly one-third of clicking, scrolling, and typing of online users occurs on social networks. On average, we log 116 minutes every day on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. Assuming this behavior remains steady long-term, it adds up to 5 years and 4 months of each of our lives! Put another way, we invest more hours in social media than we do in grooming, meals, and even personal face-to-face interaction.
According to statistics highlighted in Social Media Today, daily time spent per user is as follows:
- YouTube – 40 minutes
- Facebook – 35 minutes
- Snapchat – 25 minutes
- Instagram – 15 minutes
- Twitter – 1 minute
Given these astonishing figures, it makes sense that businesses are doing what they can to make the most of their social presence. However, posting and hash-tagging effectively can be surprisingly challenging. Errors are made by well-intentioned businesses every day. For e-commerce companies, that means lost sales and possible damage to brand credibility.
The good news related to these missteps is that your e-commerce business can garner a competitive advantage simply by avoiding them. Let’s look at 12 of the mistakes that are the most prominent among companies that sell their goods and services online.
#1 – Presenting Rather than Conversing
Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms are ready-made environments for discussion with customers and prospects. It helps enormously to lead the way in fostering back-and-forth communication by listening intently, notes Joseph Yi in Ecommerce Rules. Address the needs of your customers as rapidly as you can by checking often for mentions, comments, and messages. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can create more intelligent content that expresses a desire to meet your customers’ needs and expectations.
#2 – Racking Up Thousands of Low-Quality Followers
If you want to pivot social media into revenue, center yourself on behavior that will help you ultimately get more customers and more sales, rather than just gunning for social signals (likes, comments, etc.). In other words, there is not necessarily any value in buying “followers” (which aren’t really followers if they’re for sale) or casting a broad net that undermines your niche focus.
“A quick [or fake] fan isn’t going to translate into more sales,” advises SocialChorus marketing director Dave Hawley, “which is why brands should focus on building loyal, lifelong fans and followers who will become brand advocates.”
#3 – Putting On Blinders to Industry Rivals
The companies that are in competition with you can be a great source of information on social media, says Reshu Rathi of Betaout. Of course, you want your brand to have its own defined and unique angles, but your competitors’ tactics will certainly give rise to ideas – in terms of what to do, what not to do, how to align yourself with your sector, and how to create differentiation.
#4 – Relevance, Your Honor?
Humor can work well if it’s carefully contained and vetted, but be careful about posting anything that might irritate your customers due to its controversial or trivial nature (politics, religion, memes, cats doing nutty things, etc.). If you come across as insensitive or unprofessional – and of course your industry is key in terms of where that line is – expect your reputation to take a hit.
#5 – Disregarding Trolls and Upset Customers
Sure, block users who are hate-mongering or pulling you into their spammy agenda. However, you don’t want to delete or pay no attention to the issue if someone is upset with your product or service. Instead, try apologizing and offering to email them – even if you think their perspective is impolite or unfair. “A simple acknowledgment of a problem can prevent a potential PR nightmare,” notes social consultant Gloria Rand, “and often makes the customer so happy, the company gets a PR boost instead!”
#6 – Waiting to Respond
Along the same lines, it’s important that you keep nearly constant tabs on your social accounts if you want to meet the increasingly fast response that’s expected by customers. For instance, a Lithium Technologies report shows that 53% of people think that a firm should get a Twitter message back to them within 60 minutes (Rathi).
#7 – Lacking a Lead-Gen Plan
Social media must, of course, be approached from a more interactive, community-minded perspective than an ad or sales brochure; nonetheless, it’s still fertile ground for acquiring leads. Write an occasional opt-in post for your e-mail list, for instance. Also, remember you generally want this traffic to move from social to your site; linking to value-driven blog posts in your social posts is the most common way to achieve that.
#8 – Newsjacking Tactlessly
Trending hashtags are typically aligned with current events that are happening right now; in that way, the momentary nature of the present is a key driver of social media. At any point in time, everyone is trying to grab a piece of that real-time mindshare. The problem is that the pace of social media can become problematic. “Without evaluating the implications,” says Vocus social media manager Stacey Miller, “your company risks looking insensitive or ignorant, which can [harm] your reputation.”
#9 – Posting Too Often
Of course, you want to communicate your brand identity and message by posting (after all, you aren’t only on social media to listen). However, if you unleash too many posts, that could result in losing followers. Part of the reason that’s the case is not just that people are seeing your posts too frequently in their feed but that posting excessively inevitably means lower quality-control. For that reason, you want to post during “prime-time” for your particular target group, advises Saatva Luxury Mattress social media manager Nicolle Hiddleston. When are your followers and others you want to reach active in their accounts? Focus posting on quality rather than quantity to some extent. Posting multiple times daily is good, but posting multiple times hourly can backfire.
#10 – Barraging Your Audience with Hashtags
Related to point #4 above about relevance, including too many hashtags on a single post will often lead you far off-topic from your key focus. Relevance is absolutely critical, especially considering that people might be searching that particular hashtag for content related to it (rather than through a newsfeed or elsewhere); those users likely won’t be attracted to anything that’s off-topic. Think of it this way: you don’t just want to be going through a huge array of streams. Instead, it makes sense to square yourself directly toward your audience and provide information they might want to hear. If you do discuss current events, keep your target in mind at all times – but contribute to the discussion (i.e., it isn’t a good place to sell).
If you avoid “meaningless and shameless promotion of your business,” comments Receptional social media director Sarah Bradley, “you’ll find that your online reputation improves and people will trust what you have to say more.”
#11 – Not Having Strong Site Infrastructure to Back It Up
In light of the various mistakes that e-commerce companies can make, social media can start to seem frustrating and even, at times, foreboding. However, it’s clearly an important place (and a great place, in many ways) to interact with potential customers. It’s important because you can develop relationships, and those relationships will eventually drive more traffic to your site.
Once the traffic gets to your site, you need to meet their needs as quickly as possible, through truly impressive speed and reliability – a site with high performance. At Total Server Solutions, we deliver high-performance web hosting for e-commerce.