Long gone are the days when social media were the most underrated element of the marketing funnel. Even old-fashioned B2B companies now acknowledge the value of their presence on Facebook & Co.

The fact that everyone is online and social, however, doesn’t mean that brands have a better understanding of what makes a successful social strategy. Many still get it wrong, committing brand social media mistakes that might kill their company.

The reason behind the increasing interest in social networks is they have a huge potential for businesses looking to improve inbound marketing and increase their reach, traffic and leads. What started as a battle of likes, shares, retweets and pins (with undefined ROI measuring) has quickly evolved into a customer experience matter.

Actual figures even go beyond the wildest expectations analysts had just five years ago. According to Gartner, “global revenue from social media - composed of advertising, games and subscription revenue - will reach 29 billion dollars by 2015 up from 7 billion in 2010, increasing fourfold in five years.

While brand reputation, engagement and customer delight still make the primary reason why top managers decide to bring their company online, social media are quickly evolving into something more complex than just entertainment. They can help you fix bad customer experience, being now integral part of your customer journey.

Social commerce is just the latest - and inevitable - trend in digital marketing. It’s no secret that all major social networks are working on implementing buy buttons: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, they all aim at increasing advertising shares and making users buy without leaving the site (or the app).

Retail industry advised: social media may still only drive a small share of total online sales, but their impact is already impossible to ignore. There is not other online channel driving bigger increases in retail traffic (+200% in the first quarter of 2015, according to a new report by Business Insider).

More than desktop computers and laptop, the smartphone has become the perfect habitat for social media to display full potential. On figures, together with games, social communities are the most downloaded and profitable mobile apps. Even traditional e-commerce firms are changing skin to resemble the idea of 'network'.

In the digital era, social networks and mobile technology go hand in hand towards a (not-so-future) customer experience where clients will instinctively buy what they want, whenever they want, simply by tapping on a product included in the social news flow.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that social media spending is projected to grow steadily in the next years. In their State of Marketing 2015 report, Salesforce stated that:

  • 70% of marketers plan to boost social media ad spend;
  • 70% of marketers plan to increase budgets on organic social media marketing;
  • 66% of the marketers confirm that social media is now core to their business, with a dedicated team in place.

It is of utmost importance that your brand and products are always available, across all touch points of the journey map, whenever people take action in the decisive micro moments of mobile purchase decision.

Sales, engagement, loyalty: you should never ignore the power of social networks. You can only disregard Facebook & Co. at your own risk. Why social media are so important in the Age of the Customer? Here are just few benefits of a well-designed social presence:

  • Reputation management;
  • Targeted marketing;
  • Product launch;
  • Right-time personalization;
  • Profiled advertising;
  • Authority building;
  • Gamification dynamics;
  • Crisis management.

Social media marketing requires a strategic approach, not a rough-and-ready mentality. There are hundreds of pages dedicated to the embarrassing (and sometimes tragically funny) mistakes social media managers do while trying to be smart, funny or amusing.

Branded social presence online is a full time commitment, a game with very specific rules and harsh penalties. Just log into your Facebook account and you will see how many companies still treat their page as a ‘plus’, something they do because everyone else in doing.

But the social media world is not all about sunshine and rainbows. There’s a fair amount of pitfalls and traps that might ruin the entire structure of your digital marketing strategy, that might put your brand image at risk. If you don’t learn how to avoid them.

Here are the 5 social media mistakes - you probably do without knowing - that can kill your brand.

Want to Be Everywhere

The first and most common mistake is the will to be everywhere, regardless of the actual benefit and value. Many companies open accounts and build pages without considering the difference between the social networks. Pinterest is not Facebook; Twitter is not LinkedIn. They have specific rules, and they don't necessarily fit your brand identity and marketing purposes. Don't try to be on every single network that exists.

Post Randomly (and Pray)

Consistency is the most disregarded keyword in the social ecosystem. When you try to be everywhere without specific plan, it's like throwing a wooden stick in the air, hoping that someone is there to catch it. You want to establish yourself as a thought leader, a reference for your customers, but you will never do it if you just randomly post unorganized content, praying for shares and likes.

Consider Social a Side Thing

Social media should be integrated in your digital customer experience. This is the only way to reach effective engagement and retain customers' loyalty. If you consider social management outside the context of your omni-channel marketing routine, your business will never be social in nature. If that happens, you will never see results, no matter how high is the budget you spend on it.

Treat Customers as One

The old idea of broad target groups of consumers subject to your push communication is now out of time. The greatest consequence of social networks on marketing is exactly the creation of a two-way communication, mostly bottom up. Too many brands treat all fans as one big entity instead of individually unique. Sure, targeting still happens, but the connection with customers should never be dehumanized. Answer promptly, with a human touch.

Pay, Promote and Spam

Success on social media is not about the numbers. How many followers or like you have on your page doesn't really matter if people is not engaged in a productive conversation. Yet many managers still rely on cold numbers to measure and allocate resources. The ultimate purpose of social media strategy is not to collect more fans than your competitor, nor to fill the page with self-promotional useless contents.

In the digital era, there's a fine line between being social and being spam.

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