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As social marketing continues to evolve, trends pop up that brands and marketers often scramble to incorporate. But without social listening as your compass, you won’t gain anything from a trend – and may even damage brand health. Here are some examples.

Telling Stories out of turn

Snapchat might have been the social network that started Stories, but Instagram has taken the ball and run with it so well that now even Facebook is jumping into the mix. That’s pretty clear evidence your brand should be using Stories in its social engagement efforts, right?

Not necessarily. Each of these networks has different audiences, and they’re not all equally interested in the Stories feature – so don’t assume they are. Social listening exists entirely to keep you from relying on assumptions, so put it to use.

Maybe on Instagram you have a segment that loves Stories – so be sure to give them what they want. But on Facebook your audience might be more about Live videos, or other content. Listen to your audience and you can’t go wrong.

Putting your money on the hard sell

Social algorithms make it nearly impossible to succeed with organic content alone, so marketers have to use paid content to reach their audiences. However… you don’t have to make an ad super sales-y for it to be effective.

Yes, paid ads help your brand stand out more, simply by virtue of platforms making them more visible (they want your money after all) – but if you want consumers to care about what they’re seeing, the same rules used with organic content apply.

So don’t let the word “ad” trip you up. Stick to the same authentic, human, lifestyle-focused approached with messaging for your paid content so it stills feels organic to your audience. Then they’ll be more apt to follow you in general, helping your unpaid content be seen as well.

Leaving the machines in charge

We need tools to keep things manageable, of course, but taking automation too far undoes all the work you’re doing to be “real” with consumers. Chatbots are a great example of a tool that often goes wrong.

Automatic replies can be just as dicey. Your intentions might be good in acknowledging new Twitter followers with a DM, or Instagram posts with an automatic comment, but social users can spot these tactics a mile away.

Instead of conveying genuine appreciation for your audience, these automated interactions give the impression you’re just counting follows and going through the motions of acting like you care.

You need real people engaging on your social feeds to keep the real people in your audience happy.

Following bad examples

Another terrible idea is jumping on the bandwagon of clickbaiters and those who share sensationalistic headlines for the clicks. It may seem like these posts get a lot of traction – but that’s all they get. They don’t typically lead to conversions, and can actually drive your audience away.

Just as annoying, those “Click YES (or AMEN) if you agree!” type posts. They’re entirely impersonal, and while they may get you the desired comment and help your post gain some visibility – is that really the impression of your brand you want to be front and center?

Here again you may experience the opposite effect, so don’t be fooled into thinking this is a smart strategy just because another brand got a lot of likes or comments.

Put your tools to work

The trends above are often considered to be worthwhile strategies because they have worked for some – which brings us to the bottom line: You must use social listening to know what will or won’t work for your specific audience.

Right and wrong in social marketing aren’t absolutes – because each brand is different, each audience segment is different, and trends and attitudes are constantly in flux. You need to use social listening, with a focus on sentiment analysis, to refine your brand’s strategy – no matter what other brands are doing.

When your messaging is personalized to the people in your target audience, it will always be “right.” And if it gets off track, your social listening tools will let you know so you can keep adjusting as new trends take hold. That way you’ll never have to miss the mark.

We love sharing demos of our social listening tools. Reach out to schedule yours!

Image from jdog90

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