4 Social Media Misconceptions Hurting Your Company

Raise your hand if you’ve ever deleted a selfie or a tweet because it didn’t receive enough likes. Hey, there’s no shame in it—cultivating an engaging persona takes practice.

Even the savviest social users make common mistakes when managing a brand account. Plenty of brand accounts gain attention for their sass and engaging content, but the number of likes and retweets you get may not be a perfect representation of your true social impact. So before you delete that tweet that only got one like from a super-fan, here are four social media misconceptions that could affect your engagement.

1. Overvaluing vanity metrics

It’s easy to see likes as the currency for social media value and popularity. On my personal social accounts, I certainly get excited when my tweets and photos rack up likes, and I’m far from alone. Research has shown that dopamine, the same chemical boost we get after a victory or a good workout, is released when we receive likes and shares on social media. However, these vanity metrics aren’t always the best indicator of social success.

When evaluating the performance of Contently’s posts, the first thing I look at is the number of clicks a post receives. Most of our social content links to an article or report we want our audience to read, so if they follow through to our site, that’s a better win for us. Sure, it looks nice when 21 people like a post, but I’m much more exited about the 80 clicks, even though the public can’t see that.

Instead of getting discouraged when a promising tweet doesn’t rack up the likes and retweets, pay attention to the clicks and check how long people stay on the page after coming from social. If your post is generating strong engagement, don’t worry so much about the superficial stats.

2. Ignoring dark social shares

Last year, we wrote about the challenges marketers face with dark social shares. Dark social refers to the massive amount of links copied and pasted into emails and messenger apps, rather than shared on traditional distribution platforms via the share button. These links are tough to track, but their circulation can’t be ignored.

Brands and publishers may feel the impulse to produce different types of stories or cut back based solely on the number of easily calculated open shares, but they’d be missing a much bigger picture. According to a study by ShareThis, the content categories most conducive to dark shares are business education, counseling services, self-help, religion, and medical conditions. If your content surrounds any of these topics, it’s especially important not to discount the darker caverns of social shares.

3. Posting the wrong content at the right times

Yes, timing matters. Plenty of studies have reported when, exactly, social posts gain the most attention. But simply posting at the “right” time won’t dramatically alter your social engagement. Just as paying to distribute mediocre content won’t help in the long run, posting poor content at the optimal times isn’t good for business.

Ultimately, even if you catch your audience exactly as they’re checking Twitter on a coffee break or commute, they’ll be less likely to click on your perfectly timed post tomorrow if what you post today is irrelevant or ill-conceived.

Fewer posts is not necessarily a bad thing. At Contently, I schedule seven tweets, four Facebook posts, and two LinkedIn updates per day. Over the years, we’ve worked our way up to those numbers, and have tweaked here and there based on how our audience responds. If you have a small archive of content, maybe one or two posts per day satisfies your audience.

4. Experimenting with the wrong sites

When building your brand’s social presence, it’s tempting to set up profiles on every site. But does your company need a Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit page? Maybe. B2C clothing and lifestyle companies certainly benefit from a strong Instagram and Pinterest presence, while Reddit can help thought leaders prove their expertise (without being too self-promotional).

But I still see too many brands missing the mark by curating social accounts that don’t actually serve them. Yes, Gen Zers watch two hours of YouTube daily. But if your business doesn’t have the equipment, talent, or budget to make high-quality YouTube videos, then it’s not worth spreading your social media manager too thin. Brands should at least have a Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook page. Finance brands probably don’t need a YouTube page, but hotels that can make quality travel videos will benefit from one.

Just keep in mind it’s all about fit. And if you feel like something isn’t working, stop and adapt. With so much competition for attention, there’s no use going through the motions.

Image by iStockPhoto

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