One of the best bosses I have ever had told me on my first day that he hired me because I’m the expert, so I need to consult with him and tell him what is best for digital and social media marketing. I felt like God himself came down from heaven that day. While it is rare to find a leader who understands the best way to steer the ship is to hire people who supplement his weak spots and trust their advice.
All too often, the leader knows best and has read blogs (ironically, probably like this one…haha!), and they will do what they see fit because they are in charge. We have all worked with this type of leader, and I am sure most of us have spent numerous sleepless nights cleaning up messes like this.
One of the most dominating leaders I worked with found out the hard way you need to take advice from digital and social media experts, no matter how well you think you know the online landscape. He directly defied my warnings and spun us all into a weekend of crisis comm cleanup.
Digital is complex, intricate, intuitive, and if you don’t find the right person with that feeling in their gut that comes from years and years of working with online consumers and brands…you could also end up in a weekend (or longer) crisis comm cleanup.
Working with clients over the past couple of years, here’s what I have seen as the biggest mistakes made when it comes to their digital media marketing:
This is a biggie. An instant reaction is what caused the weekend crisis cleanup I mentioned above. When egos and cellphones are involved, it’s easy to let that anger rise and quickly type a response back to someone on social media. DON’T DO IT. A way to stop executives, and yourself, from making this mistake is to create a response meter. You can find out more about that here.
Instant reacting can also pop up when someone creates a landing page based on a trend that disappears within two hours. Don’t waste resources on landing pages unless you know you can direct people to that page for at least the next three days.
Oof. This one makes me cringe. I worked with a client who insisted their Google Ads were not working. I encouraged them to log their calls and document emails that came directly from Google Ads. To this day, they still do not see the value in tracking digital through to traditional marketing. How can you know if your Google Ads are working or not if you don’t know which calls are directly from them, nor which emails were sparked by them? It’s essential to track all of your online efforts through the traditional efforts being made. This allows you to see every touchpoint and understand your consumer’s journey.
No Crisis Comm Plan
I was fortunate enough to have a mentor and professor in college who practiced international crisis communications while teaching us how to pour water on the crisis fire. This allowed me to enter my career with my crisis comm hat. Think about how and who could attack you online and what you would do to contain that attack. Who will need to approve messaging? May you text their cell during a crisis? Who will be on call tracking online mentions?
I’ve been in war rooms that did not have a prewritten crisis comm plan, and they are MESSY. There is little calm and overreaction, which prevents everyone from thinking clearly and taking the next step to calm the crisis. Egos and differing opinions on how to handle the crisis only add fuel to the fire.
Have your crisis plan on hand, and even do drills once per quarter. This will save you so many headaches and rescue you from A LOT of bad press. I promise.
Valuing Wrong Metrics
I worked with a CEO who only wanted followers— he absolutely did not care about anything else. It took a few months, but I finally convinced him that shares, comments, and retweets were more valuable than some followers. Conversations and conversions outweigh the popularity contest.
Valuing the wrong metrics is a colossal error also made in influencer marketing. Brands will look at the number of followers and a few tweets and sign the influencer because they are starstruck by the 1M followers. However, brands are now seeing more returns from using micro-influencers (2K-10K followers.) Why? Because micro-influencers have carefully tended audiences that are interested in what they say. Learn more about that here.
Copy is so much more important than you think it is. One word could make or break the performance of your digital campaigns. Do your research. What words are consumers most likely to click on? What CTAs should you be including? What length should your copy be?
Some freelancers will tell you they know SEO and then screw you over. Sorry to be so harsh, but it’s true, and it pisses me off because I am the one that comes behind them and cleans up their mess for the clients. They end up throwing a couple of keywords into the copy in practically every sentence, which is NOT a good SEO practice.
Get someone on your team who knows SEO. Please do not hire someone fresh out of college to manage SEO for an entire digital ecosystem. Look for the experienced SEO-ers out there. They are worth the money.
Tweaking Ads Frequently
This is a mistake I made early on in my career. I tested different ways to improve the conversion rate for Google Ads and optimized my audience multiple times per day based on the results I was seeing. This basically killed the conversation rate, and not in a good way. When budgets on Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are tweaked too often, the algorithm has no way of learning what you sell and who buys it. Without the opportunity for the algorithm to discover your brand, you are basically throwing your ads out into a black hole. Once a week tweaking is okay—once every two weeks is better-once; a month is best.
Not Cropping Photos
Oh my! This is so easy, yet so ignored! I cannot tell you how many ads I have seen where the same photo is being used across ALL of displays. The issue with this is that not all display ads are the same size. CROP YOUR PHOTOS to every display size available and upload them as separate files. Would you trust a brand that cuts off half the car? Or half of their logo? This is such a minor fix that will provide significant results.
Ignoring Organic Social Media
Brands will often launch a $100K ad campaign on Facebook without building their Facebook page or adding posts. It’s pay for play, right?? Well… kind of. Yes, you have to pay to play, but you also have to keep up a fresh organic presence to bring those pay to players through to a complete conversion. Why? >> Trust. A consumer does not just click on your ad and buy the product/service. They will go to the Facebook page linked with the ad and do their research. What will they find?
I recently worked with a client who has clear-cut conversions. When they complete the sign-up page, a consumer fully converts, and the ‘thank you’ page pops up. They wanted to test whether organic or paid social was driving conversions. Every FB page was posted every day with something new and a CTA to sign-up. I even surprised myself with the results!! >> Out of 20 pages—only two even had conversions from the paid ads, and they were minimal compared to the organic conversions those same pages received.
Don’t get caught up in the mindset that you only should be paying— organic is still very powerful and very much a vital tool for digital marketing.
Turning Off On Weekends
I am always caught off-guard by brands that still turn everything off over the weekends. I did a test with a client to see when their phone calls were coming in most from Google Ads, and it showed that people were calling in around 8x more on the weekends than on the weekdays. I thought this client would see the light and put someone on the phone on the weekends, but they frankly said that they don’t work weekends and refuse to have someone answering the phone on the weekends.
BIG MISTAKE. You do not have to stay on full-time during the weekends, but you should at least have a part-timer checking in on the ads and the phone (if you run phone ads) over the weekend. Consumers have more time to shop and look for services on the weekends, regardless of the business hours you work.
Digital and social media marketing are constantly changing. It is imperative to stay on top of the trends and be flexible to change your strategy with the ebb and flow. You’re already doing something right by reading this blog and researching ways to improve your digital marketing.
What mistakes have you made in your digital marketing career that others could learn from? Share them in the comments below!
– Marji J. Sherman