For everything positive that social media can bring to a company, it is not without its pitfalls and care must be taken to avoid going to the dark side. The trouble is that social media platforms make the dark side very appealing and easy to manage. One ad and you might be hooked, which leads you down an unintentional path, and turning it around can be difficult.
Confused? The goal is not to sound like some form of jaded Jedi master, rather it is to build awareness that can be detrimental to your business and social media strategy. So what exactly do we mean when we refer to the “dark side of social media?”
For many, social media provides platforms to connect with colleagues, customers, and prospects, and in truth, it can be a wondrous place. Approaching social media as a sales platform that will provide instant results is where many companies ultimately go wrong. The prevailing thought is that as long as they are willing to shove their product into every conceivable nook and cranny of the ecosystem leads will flow into their pipeline.
Not only can this damage your business’s reputation, but it can also be counterproductive as most social media algorithms dock companies’ post rankings when they try to stack the deck. The secret? Create value and be one with the force.
If you are new to the social media game, you will find that platforms make advertising incredibly easy. Parameters can be as wide or as narrow as you wish and you can set it and forget it. Companies looking to dip their toes in the water are likely to throw up a handful of sales-driven ads that provide little more than their services and a call-to-action.
The issue with this strategy is that your company is relatively unknown in the social space. Even if you have a well-established business, your social media footprint is small and you are like Luke struggling to lift the X-Wing in the Dagobah swamp. Without compelling value-driven content, the chances are that you wind up frustrated due to a lack of results and might even give up entirely.
Think back to when you started your business, what were the cornerstones that got you where you are today? Social media is no different and should be approached in a similar manner with content that creates value for the consumer.
Value-driven content is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from your competitors. This can come in many forms, such as industry articles, personal insight into a topic, how-to videos, you get the idea. The great thing about this type of content is can be distributed organically and doesn’t have to eat into your precious advertising budget.
Over time this will help you build trust with your audience and engagement will increase. Increased engagement will lead to growth and drive traffic to your website or brick-and-mortar business. Where most businesses come up short is in thinking that trust can be built overnight. Sure you might have built a better mousetrap, but why should your audience believe you?
Growth in social media is derived from either A) organic content or B) paid advertising, there is no third option. In either case, the quickest way to run your social strategy aground is to force-feed your audience all of the wonderful things that you are selling.
You know the drill and are likely just as guilty. You see a sales post and you just keep scrolling. This of course is assuming that the post even reaches your audience’s individual social media feed. Sales-centric posts are picked up by most social platforms algorithms and are blacklisted in a sense. Unless you have a devout following that regularly engages with these posts this strategy will largely be a waste of time and resources.
Online reputation management is a relatively new concept in marketing. For years, you could get away with ignoring the Karen or Chad that was not happy with your service or product. In today’s digital world, those disgruntled customers can have a larger impact than if they were giving you an earful in person.
Going to the dark side and constantly pushing content only focus’ on your sales proposition to anyone that might meet your customer demographic will inevitably lead to a reputation disaster. Keep in mind that over 80% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. This includes online reviews, visiting company websites, and you guessed it, their social media pages as well. With so much information at a consumer’s fingertips, keeping your reputation intact is absolutely critical.
Understanding the risks associated with the dark side of the force is important, but it should not cause you to abandon your hope that social media can be a catalyst for your business. Taking a well-rounded approach will help you create value and build a loyal following. As a general rule of thumb, your sales content should only be around 20% of your content strategy. This will ensure that your services are explained, but not at the detriment of your social media presence as a whole.
Unsure of where to start? Are you brimming with midichlorians but need an Obi-Wan to show you the way? Connect with the Hire-a-Writer team and we can help you find your voice and generate compelling content that will set your business up as an authority in your industry.
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