I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. It isn’t completely a social media tip, but more a splash of a few things that don’t get talked about in the social media field. So this one’s for my fellow social media marketers, aspiring social media marketers, or just for anyone looking for a little insight into what actually happens behind the scenes.
Here are eight things people don’t tell you about social media marketing
1. There are No Shortcuts
Period. The main thing people don’t tell you about social media is that there really are no shortcuts or “hacks”.
No doubt you’ve heard me mention that “social media is a marathon, not a sprint” a lot. Growing an authentic, engaged following relies on research and analysis. It lies in getting to know your audience and testing. None of this happens overnight.
The only way to guarantee success is through consistent application of a strong social media strategy.
2. It Can Be Very Tedious Work
To those of you who think social media marketing is just about throwing a picture with a cute caption online, you’re in for a rude awakening.
A good social media marketer is constantly analyzing, adjusting, learning, re-configuring and more. Then you throw in creating content, working out when to post, what to post, if it makes sense and if it’s working. It really is a job with many facets – and it’s the furthest thing from simply posting sunny updates.
3. A Big or Fast Growing Following Isn’t Always a Measure Of Success
Here’s a question I’ve heard from several clients, in different variations:
“Our competitors just got an Instagram account and they have more followers than us already, why have we not grown like that?”
The answer, usually, is that they’ve dumped a bunch of money into ads, or a bunch of money into fake followers and engagement.
This is why you can’t compare your brand to others all the time – remember, you’re only seeing the outermost shell of what’s actually happening behind the scenes.
Success lies in many different factors, and is defined differently for each brand. It’s important to be clear on your short and long-term goals, and stay focused on what you’re doing, and whether your efforts are delivering the results you want.
What’s more valuable – 50,000 followers or 5,000 who actually engage with you, and will go on to become actual, paying customers?
The numbers don’t always tell the tale.
4. A Lot of Time Goes into Engagement
In 2018, with all the accounts out there, social media is about far more than just pretty pictures.
You need to actually set time aside to engage with your audience. Like photos, leave comments, take part in the conversation. This all takes time and energy – but it’s the best way to work with the various algorithms (as opposed to losing out against them).
5. Not Everything can be Directly Tracked
I’d love to sit here and say that I can guarantee your post will go viral if you include specific ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ elements. But that’s not the case.
Sure there are best practices, and various strategies and tactics that will help your accounts perform the best they can, but you have to remember that social media is based on people, and people change.
People are unpredictable, and therefore certain things just can’t be boiled down to a prescriptive process. Everything is dependent on a range of factors, which are often completely different from brand to brand.
Another side to this is tracking – social media marketing isn’t always a “see-click-purchase” chain. A follower may not come into your establishment directly after seeing a post, they might have to see your brand and/or offer several times, become familiar with your offerings, and then happen to think of you in a specific circumstance.
It’s not always linear, it’s not always predictable. But you’ll establish your own best practices as you go.
6. Things Change in a New York Minute
It’s not really a secret, but some people don’t realize how quick the social media landscape can change.
Beyond new platform updates, there are a lot of things that regularly change in the back end, that you may not necessarily be aware of. Algorithms get updated, functionalities change, product offerings cease to exist – and we social media marketers have to keep up with all these things to ensure the best in market practices, and the best outcomes, and for our clients.
7. Your Social Media Marketer will Need Creative Help
Some social media campaigns require more creative than your social media manager will have the know-how to create – and that’s okay. Just make sure you give them a budget that allows for hiring the right creatives to help achieve the overall vision – or understand the limitations they have on their capacity.
8. The Industry is Saturated
This one is mostly for my fellow social media marketers, but it also applies to business owners, CMO’s or anyone trying to hire a social media role.
Please be aware that this industry is saturated. Some individuals or businesses will claim they can “do social media” and they’re really just full of one-off tactics that can’t deliver consistent results.
Also, with the rise of the social media influencers, some have come to believe that because they’ve grown their own following that they can simply do the same for others – which is not always the case.
What bothers me is that this can stain the broader reputation of the many talented and creative social media marketers out there – while also hurting the businesses hiring the not-so-great ones. My advice to you social media marketers out there is to keep doing great work, continue to learn and grow our craft, and please, recognize and uphold your value.
To those hiring, don’t be fooled by a low price. Make sure you interview, review work and hire someone who makes sense for your needs.
Social media marketing is so much more than just posting a picture and matching it with a few hashtags – a serious social media marketing professional offers a lot more than that. Hopefully, with this post, I’ve been able to bring a few of these common misconceptions to light.