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Are You Treating Social Media as an Afterthought?

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Studies show that the biggest mistake entrepreneurs and businesses make on social media is not investing enough. Though experts continue to espouse the virtues and benefits of social media, many businesses and thought leaders have failed to make it a priority.

Companies that invest time, energy, and resources in social media marketing are reaping the many tangible and non-tangible benefits it brings. Are you investing enough? Or are you treating social media as an afterthought?

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Here are five tell-tale signs that you may be treating social media as an afterthought (and what you can do about it!)

1. You let a whole day go by without posting on any network.

A whole day without marketing your business online? That's crazy! Your inconsistency shows your audience that you aren't trustworthy. Even if it is subconscious, your potential clients lose faith in your ability to provide consistency in other aspects of your business.

Solution: Use an online tool such as Hootsuite to pre-schedule posts each week. While you still want to make time each day for engagement and relationship-building, you can rest comfortably knowing that your broadcasts are providing steady cover, day in and out. If you can't even find the time to schedule your posts, consider outsourcing your social media.

2. Your posts all happen in clusters.

Do you have a steady stream of posts appearing throughout the day, every day? Or do you find yourself trying to make up for a week of absence by spending three hours in a single clip jumping to several networks? If the latter is more your style, you have no system in place for getting visibility and building relationships with potential customers. By treating social media as an afterthought, you are neglecting simple activities that can grow your business. Instead of clustering your posts. you want your messages to be sprinkled throughout each day.

Solution: Devote time each week or each morning to pre-schedule your posts so that they appear every hour or two. And take five to 10minutes each day to respond, comment, and share others' posts (Did you know? These engagement posts can be scheduled to appear over the course of the day, also).

3. You post only when you have something to promote.

Many entrepreneurs say that they have no reason to post on social media because they have nothing to promote. This reasoning goes against the spirit (and effectiveness) of social media. Unless you've built trust, provided consistent value, and established strong connections with your community, promoting a product or service on social media will yield abysmal results. Those who are givers on social media (delivering value,, sharing, showing kindnesses) see the best results when it comes time to promote a product or service.

Solution: Learn to dig your well before you are thirsty. If you wait until you have something to promote on social media, it is already too late. It takes time to build strong relationships, so begin now. And don't stop. Then when you have sometime to promote, your contacts will be more likely to listen and respond.

4. You broadcast only.2014-07-30-megaphone_full.jpg

For social media marketing to be effective, it is absolutely necessary to engage, acknowledge, thank, and share others' posts. Your audience can't connect with you if all you do is broadcast your message. They want to relate, associate, join your cause. They will jump on board if they see you as an ally.

Solution: Think of your social media marketing as an interactive workshop, rather than a one-sided lecture. Ask opinions, respond to questions and comments, support others by sharing their posts, show appreciation and thank people when they share and comment.

5. You are tactical, rather than strategic.

Your posts, engagement, and relationship building appear to be haphazard, rather than planned. Proven tactics are important, but without following an overall strategy, you don't have specific goals to reach, and you are constantly reinventing the wheel, attempting new things, and starting over.

Solution: Decide on your main social media marketing goals. Based on these objectives, map out a plan of action, and stick to it -- consistently. You will be rewarded.

When you treat social media as an important part of your overall marketing -- instead of as an afterthought, you will see valuable results.

(To learn more about outsourcing your social media, visit the Ghost Tweeting site.)