3 Bad Social Habits To Break In 2016 by Kerry Butters

Following up from my 2016 predictions post last week, as we get through to the other side of Christmas and begin to count down the last remaining days and hours of yet another year at the helm of business marketing, it’s time to take stock of our strategies. I want to take a similar approach to my last blog – that is to say that instead of taking this opportunity to look back, let’s keep focussed on the future, and maintain our energies looking forward on how we might continue to improve our strategies as we plough on ahead into 2016.

Predictions are all well and good – in fact they’re very important. Even if all three of my 2016 predictions turn out to be incorrect, what’s important about the exercise is that it got me thinking about 2016. It’s far too easy to rest on our laurels – especially when everything is ticking along nicely – and to assume that our engagement and our businesses will continue to grow so long as we just keep on doing what we are doing right now.

Oh, if only that were the case – but of course it’s not. If it were, then we would still all be making the exact same efforts now as we were back in 2012, when perhaps most of us hadn’t bothered with Pinterest, Instagram or Vine yet.

No, social media evolves, and therefore so too does social media marketing, which of course means that the social media marketer must continue to evolve and refine his/her strategies and efforts to keep pace with the competition.

And one of the most effective ways that we can do this is to take this little period, just before the New Year arrives and work begins again in earnest once more, to make a note of our bad habits that we have picked up over the years, and vow to break them for 2016.

We’ve all got them – little tricks that we use to cut corners, and make our jobs slightly less stressful. But, in the end, these things do nothing squash our ability to grow, and in fact have probably quite significantly demeaned our prospects over time. This is unacceptable in the long term, of course, and so I’d like now to highlight what I think are the three big bad habits that marketers have, and make the case for 2016 being the year to break them once and for all.

3 Bad Social Habits To Break In 2016

1. Giving Too Much Time To Vanity Metrics

Yes, this is something I covered in some detail earlier in the year with a post on this very blog – ‘Knowing Your Analytics: Vanity Metrics Vs. Actionable Metrics’. Far too many marketers equate ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘retweets’ and similar with successful business growth. Now, although these things are of course important in the age of social media marketing, they ARE NOT true indicators of success, and nor do they necessarily equate to conversions.

In short, these things are so-called vanity metrics – as in, they make the marketer feel as if he/she is achieving business growth, whereas all he/she is really doing is accumulating more social media followers/engagement/presence.

As I say, this is all important stuff, but the marketer with a habit of paying too much attention to vanity metrics at the expense of actionable metrics is not being smart. A good use of analytics is to take into close consideration exactly how one campaign or cache of content is influencing your following towards conversion. It’s about split testing and funnel metrics – not followers and retweets.

2. Failing To Include Alt Text

Cutting corners when you’re busy is a false economy. Blogs take time to research, time to write, time to source imagery and time to upload to your CMS. And it’s at this last point that many bloggers fail to get over the SEO line. After spending a lot of time and energy writing some great, crowd- and Google-pleasing content, when it comes to uploading the blog to the web, it can often be tempting to skip the Alt Text step and jut hit ‘Publish’ instead.

A lot of energy goes into writing a blog. And I think that once marketers have dotted the Is and crossed the Ts, then they tend to think that the job is all but over. In fact, it’s not. SEO optimising a blog post on the backend of, say, WordPress can take anything between 2 and 20 minutes, depending on how many images you need to source. In fact, far from being ‘the easy bit’ of the process, it can actually prove to be one of the most critical.

Since Google bots can’t ‘see’ images, then it relies on the Alt Text for ranking purposes. Therefore, you need to get this bit right, and take the time to add a short description of each image that you upload, not least for visually impaired users and those with screen readers, let alone for SEO purposes.

For a pretty thorough breakdown of Alt Text, I recommend reading Hobo Internet Marketing’s blog post ‘How Many Words In Alt Text For Google?’.

3. Auto-Sharing From One Social Network to Another

They make it so easy, don’t they. When you share your blog to Pinterest, there’s that little note that appears saying ‘Check this box to post to Facebook’. Now, whilst this is undoubtedly convenient for a user, a social media marketer should never cut corners in this manner.

There’s no need to in this day and age anyway. What with the likes of Buffer and Hootsuite (et al), which make sharing and scheduling posts an absolute breeze, then it’s high time that you break the habit of auto-posting to Facebook from Pinterest, or Twitter from Facebook or any of the other possibilities.

For one thing, your audience will be slightly different on each platform, and so you really should be optimising your message for each, even if you’re sharing the same piece of content. But for another, the publishing formats of the different social networks do not marry together seamlessly. Auto-posting often results in cut-off images, which, frankly, just looks totally unprofessional and downright appalling. If you haven’t kicked this habit yet, then 2016 is the time to do so.

What bad habits are you vowing to break in the New Year? Let us know in the comm

  • Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz

    That’s a good point Annaliese – DM’s should be used as a conversation starter. The potential in automated tweets is enormous, but too many people start with DM’s right away or with too many tweets at once.

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