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How to Overcome Social Media’s Most Frustrating Challenges

In her recent report, Forrester senior analyst Kim Celestre states that LinkedIn has failed to gain traction as a social relationship building tool that drives customer engagement such as loyalty or customer service.
Celestre discovered that only 21% of US online adults visit LinkedIn monthly, significantly lower than Facebook’s 74% monthly active users. Celestre also found that users are less likely to engage with brands on LinkedIn compared to those on Facebook. Only half of LinkedIn users interact with companies on LinkedIn while 70% of Facebook users engage with brands on Facebook.
LinkedIn’s lack of user interaction has led LinkedIn Company Pages to have a low engagement rate. LinkedIn Company Pages only have an average engagement rate of 0.054% in terms of user interactions as a percentage of a brand’s followers. This figure is lower than Google+ and Facebook’s 0.069% and 0.073%, respectively.
Celestre’s report on LinkedIn’s poor user engagement is just a drop in the bucket amongst all the recent negative news about social media. Examples include:

While Google+ has never been a prominent network for gaining major brand awareness or customer engagement, it gave brands an outlet to push content and improve SEO. Now with Google ceasing to encourage consumers to use its social platform, companies will have one less platform to deliver content to their target audiences.

  • 44% of Twitter users have never sent a tweet. These users could be fake or just don’t want to tweet or interact with other individuals on Twitter. Whatever the reason may be, this phenomenon limits companies’ opportunities to build relationships with consumers or gain free advertising through retweets or replies.

Although these social media changes and news are frustrating, there are ways to overcome them. Here’s how:

  1. Develop an integrated marketing program

    Social media shouldn’t be your sole online marketing channel. It should be a part of your overall integrated digital marketing program.  Balance your mix with activities such as email marketing, search engine marketing, or guest blogging. In addition to digital marketing, leverage traditional advertising approaches such as networking, tradeshows, seminars, and product demos.
    Select the channels that best support your business goals, and understand the role of each channel. Decide on the best mix you need to gain brand exposure and customer engagement. This better-rounded, integrated approach to digital and traditional marketing helps you avoid placing all your eggs in one basket and suffering severe setbacks when social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn make a sudden algorithm or product change. 

  2. Use it as a product catalogue

    Use social media to give consumers a convenient channel to learn more about your brand.  
    According to eMarketer, 37% of US shoppers use social media to research products or services that they're considering buying. This means that consumers are going on companies’ Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn pages to learn about the benefits and features of their offerings and compare them with competing brands.
    This new, digitalized shopping behavior indicates that brands must be on social media regardless of the changes in social networks because consumers who are interested in purchasing your products or services will proactively visit your social media pages to learn about your offerings.
  3. Leverage it to remain in consumers’ evoke sets

    Even though 44% of Twitter users have never sent a tweet or most LinkedIn users don’t interact with brands on LinkedIn, if your target audience is on a certain social channel, you should be too.
    Being present on the same social platforms as your audience helps you expose your brand to your prospects so that they will be more likely to include you in their evoke sets.
    Evoke set is defined as “a group of relevant brands that a prospective consumer is favorably familiar with when they are thinking about making a purchase. The goal of many marketing campaigns is to establish their business brand firmly among the evoked set of products considered by most target consumers when making a purchase decision.”
    For example, Urban Decay displays images of their lip glosses, eyeliners, lip plumper, and bronzers on their Pinterest page. This tactic not only helps Urban Decay increase customers’ purchase intention, but also reminds consumers of their offerings so that when potential buyers want to buy a cosmetic product, they’ll be more likely to buy from Urban Decay.
    Social media challenges are daunting, but they’re surmountable. By utilizing the three tactics above, you can use social networks more purposefully and suitably based on their nature so that you can optimize their impact.


    [This article was originally submitted as a guest blog on Social Media Today]