Wasting Social Media Budget: The Seven Deadly Sins


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emmadavis | Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Filed under: SEO Tips & Advice, Social Media Tips & Advice, Technology

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Everyone knows that staying within a budget is a top priority if you want to succeed in internet marketing, but few marketers have the discipline to recognize when they are headed down the path towards overspending. When it comes to social media it can be an even greater problem simply because of the constantly evolving nature of the beast. Here are the Seven Deadly Sins you’ll want to avoid if you hope to successfully manage your social media budget.

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1) Being Less Than Specific About Numbers With Yourself and Others

There are a lot of great opportunities out there to hit a home run with big increases in traffic and business using social media, but you’re guaranteed to strike out if you don’t start with a specific budget in mind. Too often marketers funnel their social media budget out of the funds they’ve allotted for other types of online marketing. Without realizing it, they spend way more than they mean to on social media efforts and when the invoices arrive, they don’t know why they aren’t seeing the ROI they expected. When you decide how much you will spend on social media marketing, you must write this number down, speak it out loud, tattoo it on your arm and chant it like a mantra. By keeping a precise focus on how much you set out to spend, you will be more careful with every move you make knowing exactly how much of your allocated budget you’ve already spent. Being aware of a budget number is important during the beginning, middle and end of any social media marketing campaign. Most importantly, by keeping your own laser focus on the budget, you won’t risk overspending someone else’s money and having to justify your irresponsibility down the road.

2) Failing To Define Your Target Audience

The strength of social media marketing is its ability to connect you with interested readers world-wide. What too many marketers fail to realize is that it’s not as easy as putting yourself out there and waiting for new business to come to you. If you want to succeed in social media marketing you must clearly define who your desired audience is, then design your strategy around finding and reaching out to this specific group. Think about it like fishing: if you want to catch a certain kind of fish, are you better off trying to cover every inch of the ocean with bait and hoping they come to you, or would your time be better spent getting to know the fish’s habits and seeking it out in its natural habitat? There certainly are a lot of fish in the social media sea but you’re guaranteed to blow your budget if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Get to know the most important demographics for your product and familiarize yourself with how these demographics spend time on social media. You may be surprised to find that your assumptions and expectations are radically different from the true behavior of your desired audience.

3) Lacking Substance You Can Deliver

This is a mistake you see all too often in the social media marketing strategies of all types of businesses. No matter how big or how small your allocated social media budget is, you will never see the ROI you’re striving for if you don’t follow through on social media promises. Nothing could be worse for a social media marketing campaign than to entice thousands of followers with big promises then fail to follow through. If you claim that participating in your social media campaigns will help users learn more, you had better have a white paper or landing page ready to go with the information they’re looking for. If you claim that your product is hipper, cooler, more cutting-edge and more promising than the competition, that better be a statement you can stand by and prove when visitors arrive at your site. It’s hugely disappointing as a social media consumer to click on a promising link only to find no substance behind the offer, but it’s even more disappointing as a marketer when you realize you’ve blown through your budget and have nothing to show for it.

4) Confusing Social Media Marketing With On-Site Advertising

At this point in the social media game it’s clear that there is major potential on social media network sites to succeed with targeted pay-per-click advertising. However, too many marketers forget that this does not fall under the header of “social media marketing” and should not share a budget with it. True social media marketing campaigns are not as easy as setting up some targeted search terms and displaying ads to users with matching profiles. You can find great success with paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and other popular social networks, but chances are you’ll max out the budget you had intended for social media efforts like blogging, generating buzz and connecting with potential customers. Sponsored link advertising on social network sites can be a great way to drive traffic but you must keep a clear line drawn between what you spend there and what you allocate towards actual social media marketing campaigns.

5) Forgetting To Track Traffic & Measure Success

This is a golden rule for any method of internet marketing but it rings particularly true with a subjective art like social media marketing. From the moment you set out to increase brand awareness and gain new followers with social media marketing, you must have tracking scripts and analytics software ready to record your success. With free services like Google Analytics or with a more advanced analytics system in place, it couldn’t be easier to understand exactly what sources are sending the greatest volume of visits to your site. This is especially important with social media because new networks are springing up and gaining popularity every day. You may have never heard of some of the sites that are driving traffic to you but that’s no excuse to remain unaware. You never know what kind of opportunity you’ll find by comparing your social media efforts to sudden gains in website traffic. You also never know when a social media marketing method considered tried-and-true by others will underperform for you, wasting valuable social media budget with each day you continue. Failing to spend money on analytics for social media is like being given a free dog and assuming that “free” means “will never cost me anything down the road”. Not measuring success through analytics is a surefire way to spend more than you mean to without realizing it before it’s too late.

6) Expecting Instant, Huge Results

While social media marketing is a fast-paced game to play, you can’t forget that many social media efforts are also slow-burning. They may generate huge volumes of traffic and increase organic search ranking for you but these achievements generally don’t happen overnight. Occasionally they do, but too many marketers make the mistake of coming to expect this sort of result. If you let yourself be disappointed when a social media campaign doesn’t instantly show massive success, you will fall into the deadly trap of believing you need to put more money into it. Sometimes the best social marketing successes come when we least expect it; for instance, there could be major breaking news in your industry that directly relates to a blog post you wrote several months earlier. Rather than being shocked to see the sudden increase in interest, you should recognize this as a major social media marketing success because it proves that your content is findable when it matters most. Avoid those knee-jerk reactions! By reminding yourself that social media marketing campaigns can take awhile to come to fruition, you’ll be more sensible when it comes to how you spend your social media budget.

7) Micromanaging Your Social Media Content Creation

Whether you’re the one writing the tweets, blogs, posts and updates or you’ve got a social media marketing team to manage, it’s important to remember that at its core social media is a living, breathing, evolving monster that doesn’t wait for anything. You might have a brilliant thought that could really inspire your readers, but if you’re slow to post, it could be irrelevant by the time it’s published. There are countless useful (and free) tools out there to help you manage your social media marketing efforts; you’re a fool if you don’t take advantage of the time-saving options these tools offer. Similarly, you can’t let yourself get too hung up on perfecting your social media campaigns. While traditional forms of advertising demand huge budgets and thus require extremely focused creation, social media marketing campaigns are ongoing and free to evolve as necessary. Therefore you must be careful not to impede the creative process, no matter who is doing the creating. Don’t be your own worst enemy, and don’t bog down your team with endless drafts and rewrites when the real value of social media marketing lies in its immediacy. Be careful with your phrasing and voice, of course, but don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to publishing on social media sites. Get your content out there as fast as you can, and by the time it’s published you should already be formulating your next idea in your head. By doing so you’ll stay on target time-wise and ultimately stay in line with the budget you’ve allotted to your social media campaigns.

Are you guilty of committing these social media sins and wasting your budget? What other mistakes do you see marketers making when it comes to social media budget allocation? Leave a comment with your experiences and get in touch to learn more about managing your internet marketing budget successfully.

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