There were 2.46 billion social network users in 2017, with the number estimated to go up to 3.02 billion in 2021. That number constitutes to a roughly a third of the global marketing is online. These figures, though impressive, the social media market would know the challenges of reaching their individual demographic from this vast population. One can’t help but have a sense of optimism when posting something, only to find a post, when just starting out, only made an impression of 100 people with no likes or comments.

When it comes to small businesses in the US, almost all are on social media, but only a small percentage of them, about 30% actually invest in these networks. That is despite about 75% of the small businesses saying that social media increased traffic to their pages. One can say that for the most part, lack of creating a budget for these platforms is largely due to their free nature. Owners will be less likely to see the need to invest in extra paid features when what’s available appears to be just as effective.

Another top challenge would be, for the digital marketer, demonstrating the RIO of social media, not just when it comes to money but time spent as well. Some companies appear to have learned the art of posting a single photo on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and within a few minutes get a thousand likes, shares and comments. However, this is not the happy tale for every social media marker, especially for business starting out. What then is the secret to the success of those getting the most engagement on social media? Here are eight challenges and their solution.

  1. Formulating a social media strategy

The first step to making the most out of social media has a strategy. You first ought to assess your needs and state what your objectives are. They need to be as specific as possible. If you want to generate more leads, state how many. If you want to get more engagement, state what forms it would be; likes, comments or impressions? Your targets need to be as specific as possible and include how you intend to go about meeting your objective.

Solution: overall, the social media strategy needs to be in line with the overall business strategy and vision. It should also act as a roadmap to help get to your end goals. Do not be afraid to experiment and evaluate your strategy along the way.

Not sure where to start? The first step is to answer why you’d like to join social media for your business. The reasons will likely guide you to establish what channels best will help you do that. Also, come up with the key indicators of how your success will be measured. There are plenty of resources online that can help you formulate a solid social media strategy.

  1. Connecting

As every great marketer knows, one needs to form a relationship with someone before there can be enough trust for them to buy your product, service or cause. Businesses can no longer get by with simply posting content without trying to connect with their audience. This demographic has become smarter in how they buy, and unless they can connect with your brand, it’s unlikely that they’ll stay on your page for too long.

For that reason, marketers have been forced to appeal to social media users at a personal level. Messaging ought to be tailored to appear as though it’s not talking to the masses but to individuals.

Solution: to be able to build authentic relationships with your target marketing, your brand must have a human element. Part of that is having a brand personality, a set of human-like characteristics that can be attributed to a brand. When your audience feel like they are talking a person and not a brand per say, they are likely to be more receptive to what you communicate. A brand personality evokes a specific emotion. That way, they are likely to remember you long after they’ve left your page.

  1. Responding to comments and messages

One mistake that most brands make is to post something, and only log back into the platform to post something else. This lack of monitoring feedback would indicate to a customer that you’re not interested in connecting or building a beneficial relationship. A marketer may be tempted to ignore any comment or query that doesn’t convert anyone into a lead which would be a mistake. One should only assume that if someone took the time to leave a comment or question, they were doing so to try and connect.

Solution: There are plenty of free or low-costing platforms that aid in monitoring such interactions. Tweet Deck and Buffer Reply are just examples. A company like Faris Accounting would have a lot of questions about some of the services they provide from people not well versed with the industry jargon. The questions may be repetitive, but a social media marker can have a script ready where they can personalize a response for each question. Additionally, one can share blog posts or provide links that best address a query.

Tip: depending on your business, consider setting up a group or forum on LinkedIn or Facebook where you can interact with like-minded individuals. It can also act as a community where you play the role of facilitator without always dictating the agenda.

  1. Getting people to share your content

One of the challenges that social media managers face is the sharing ability of their posts. Sharing is one of the ways that marketers get to harness connectivity among friends on a platform and get more impressions and organic reach. It is also another way that brand visibility gets achieved. As mentioned before, almost all small businesses stated that social media gained them more traffic. Sometimes, however, what used to work before stops working. Most people rely on conventional ways of sharing; long posts on Facebook, photos on Instagram and links on Twitter.

Solution: Come up with creative ways of sharing your content. Use a mix and match through all social platforms and see what works well. A rule of thumb to having your content shared is asking yourself if whatever you’re posting is something you’d actually share. If the answer is no, then you might need to go back to the drawing board.

  1. Drop in organic reach

Tied in closely with having shareable content, a person may notice a drop in organic reach. Those who have been on social media for a while can attest that what worked when platforms were relative new is not what works now. Managers have to find smarter ways to increase their organic reach. This shift is largely due to the saturation of content on social media. Now, people have to find smart ways to stand out and attract people to their brand.

Solution: One way to go about this is using analytics tools to see what types of posts attract more engagement and trying to model your approach toward that. The next step is to consider boosting your posts. You can now pay a small amount of money to increase your posts reach and tailor it specifically to your target market. That way, you’re able to tap into reach potential customers. Remember, for this to be effective; you need to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is. It avoids your wasting resources to try and reach people who are not interested in what you’re offering.

  1. Backing your strategy’s success with data

When starting out, you may have great ideas, only for them to not work out later as you’d expected them to. This is where analytical tools, as previously mentioned, come in. You’re able to know what changes to make and what to retain. At the same time, a social media manager and the sales team can work out how certain activities let to an increase in leads and eventually loyal customers. This method helps you track your ROI. You’re also able to let the business owner or management team how your efforts have paid off.

Solutions: there are plenty of free in-platform and third-party tracking sites that you can use for free or at low cost to help know measure the strategy’s success. They are easy to use and rely on dashboards and graphics that make interpretation easier. Information such as the number of likes, organic vs. paid reach, the number of people who say it, the ratio of men to women and even their graphical locations, only to make a few, are made available for your assessment. You can equally tailor your own to suit your needs.

  1. Using visuals

This study by BuzzSumo shows that out of 100 million articles shared those with photos on Facebook got three times the number of shares than those without. On Twitter, the number was double. That comes to show that visuals are an integral part of social media posting. Paired with quality content, your post is likely to receive the visibility it deserves. However, the challenge for most is the actual designing of the visuals, whether images, infographics or clips.

Solution: You don’t have to have a big budget to come up with visuals for your posts. There are plenty of resources online that can help you come up with quality branded images unique to your company. You can get images from stock files or take the photos yourself. There are also platforms that give templates and let you customize your graphics as you see fit. If you wish to know more, there are freelancer graphic designers you can hire to get the job done, especially in cases where you need infographic videos, and you don’t have someone with the skills in-house. Remember that every content created needs to line up with your brand personality and social media strategy. All in all, ensure that they are of high quality and unique to your brand.

  1. How often to post

The question of the posting frequency largely falls on the value-add. One of the problems that face social media managers is how often one should post given that, from time to time, remaining creative and authentic becomes hard to do. Sometimes, however, the issue becomes a full-time job especially if they’re no designated staff members to do just that. Striking a balance is important.

Solution: don’t spam your follower. Some businesses thrive on churning out content a couple of times a day while others about three times a week works. Look at the value-add and not at the quantity of what you put out. If it’s important, you’ll know to post it. This is usually trial and error, and each business has their sweet-spot. People gravitate toward brands that produce quality content, not those who post frequently.

Wrap up

It would in inaccurate to state that these eight are the only challenges that social media managers and marketers face. They are only a few but cover the general aspects that affect any business. There are plenty of resources, both free and paid, that one can use to sharpen their skills with this regards. There are along of companies (like those in the links shared) that provide free and valuable content that enhance one’s skills.

Something one ought to keep in mind is that social media is only one marketing aspect. Your other efforts (email marketing, sales, and promotions, PR campaigns, etc.) need to align with that’s put out on social channels. You equally need to have great content on your website; you ought to share information from here, whether blogs or where your audience can make a purchase. Therefore, do not use social media as a crisis tool if other aspects are failing. Use it as an enhancer and an open and transparent way to communicate with your audience.

By Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.

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