Chandler Bruns, Social Media Manager, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Social media looks easy but it’s not. This is especially true for small- and medium-sized companies with lean marketing staffs that are expected to plan and implement social campaigns on top of everything else they’re doing – and with little or no direction.

I can say this with certainty because I’ve heard it a lot over the last year. Rooster offers social media training sessions tailored to ag companies ranging from a half-day to multi-day sessions. And over the last year we kept hearing the same issues. If you’re interested in a specialized training session to improve your social performance, just let me know – otherwise, here are the biggest mistakes small and medium companies are making, and how to address them.

We don’t really have a plan. Too often, when I ask a client what they’re trying to achieve on social media I hear statements about cadence or channels, such as “three Facebook posts per week.” Cadence and channel selection are important – but these aren’t goals, any more than, “We need to be on social media because (insert competitor’s name) is all over it.” Unfortunately, this is a very, very common mistake. In fact, more than half of marketers in a recent study admitted that aligning social campaigns to company goals was their primary struggle.

Start by reminding yourself that social media is simply a set of tools to help you accomplish a specific task, such as increasing brand awareness, generating new leads, or driving traffic to your company’s website. Taking time to define your social goals is the first step to reaching them, and it’s the first place our team starts when we meet with new clients.

We’re repeating the same messages on multiple channels. “Social media” is a catch-all term that’s used so frequently that it’s easy to forget that it’s plural. Social media is not a single thing, it’s a collection of different channels, each with its own purpose, strengths, weaknesses, and audience. Using the channels interchangeably, such as posting the same generic content across all your social channels, is a recipe for low performance.

Different platforms attract different audiences and require different styles of messaging. Facebook and YouTube are the dominant tools available today for sales messages, in part because they attract high-income users. Instagram is the go-to medium for Millennials and Gen Z, who are drawn to its bold, dynamic messages. (Tik Tok is another tool to reach younger audiences, although Rooster can’t yet recommend this for ag companies). Women vastly outnumber men on Pinterest; LinkedIn attracts a well-educated clientele; Twitter tends to favor a more straightforward, business approach. In short, choose the right tool for the job at hand, rather than just reaching for tools and hoping you grab the correct one.

There’s no rhyme or reason to our schedule. Are you posting too often? Not enough? No clue? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to determine the perfect frequency for your messaging on various channels.

I had a client a few years ago who wanted to improve brand awareness. We built a schedule around Facebook and Twitter and started with two posts daily per channel. After two weeks we measured performance, and you could literally see the engagement rates plummet. We were putting WAY too much out there, burying content on top of content, wasting time and money.

If you’re new to social media, or trying something new on social media, you need to start somewhere, so choose a schedule that’s reasonable based on your campaign goals and resources. But make time to check performance, at least every two weeks if not weekly. Are you getting comments and shares? Are some messages performing better than others? Which posts captured the most attention? Social media is all about trial and error. And if you’re not constantly analyzing your efforts, you’ll never know how one campaign did compared to another.

We had a plan. Then we abandoned it. Stick to your guns when you begin a new social strategy. We hear tons of opinions about how people “think” social should be done, but sometimes, they just like to tweet. There is a difference between personal social use and brand social use. It’s essential to hear the thoughts and ideas of your internal team when it comes to social, but it doesn’t always mean they’re right. Stand your ground and listen to your social experts before abandoning your social strategy.

Tweaking your social plans based on performance or new information is a good idea. Abandoning a strategy before it’s even seen the light of day, however, is not – no matter how common it may be. Often, the change comes as a result from pressure from outside the marketing unit, as it was in this case. And if this is happening to you, we’ve found excellent success in bringing these outside forces – internal executives, sales teams, manufacturing, HR professionals, etc. – into our training sessions where we can explain how to create a social plan and why.

These are just a few of the obstacles we’ve seen recently, and some basic tools to help overcome them. If you’re looking to improve your social media performance – and increase ROI – I’d love to have a conversation on some practical in-house training to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.