Want to get a publisher's attention on social media? Don't make these 4 social media marketing mistakes

May 27 | offbeatbride

social-media-mistakesSo you're a wedding photographer. Or a wedding planner. Or a florist. And you have something that you think your favorite wedding blog might love — a photo from a recent wedding! A new product you just released! A promotion you're getting the word out about! You turn to your favorite form of social media (Facebook! Twitter! Instagram!) and you get ready to make your pitch to your favorite publisher.

Now stop for a second. Social media marketing is powerful, but it's still relatively new. It can be tricky and slippery, and none of us are really clear on what the rules are. As a publisher, I can tell you that I've seen it all, and there are a few common things that people do that just aren't effective. I want to share these things not because they're the Most Terrible Mistakes EVAR, but because I know that as small biz folks, our time for marketing is limited… and putting time and energy into marketing that's ineffective isn't a good use of your time.

At Offbeat Bride we get dozens of social media pings each week, and we deal with folks making a lot of the same well-intentioned, mild mistakes. Let's pause for a second and make sure you're not about to make one.

1. Do your homework first

Before you @reply your favorite blogger, make sure you know what their official submission process is. Before you send that picture via Facebook, look at the website's homepage for a link that says "Submit" or "Submissions." On Offbeat Bride, we get so many submissions that we're very clear that unless you follow the instructions on our submissions page and use the official channels, we can't even consider them. We don't want you to be that guy with the amazing wedding that we don't publish because you submitted it via PDF to our Google+ page.

Also familiarize yourself with a publisher's paid placement options (here are Offbeat Bride's!). I know we're all broke, but if you want a publisher to share your latest coupon or giveaway or sweepstakes or whatever, take a moment to consider their business model. On Offbeat Bride, we have very clear policies that we don't promote even the most generous giveaway unless it's in the context of a sponsored post or social media blast. We're all trying to make ends meet, and as a publisher my business model is all about helping businesses reach my readers (your potential clients!). Before you ask a publisher to help you reach potential customers for free, at least take a couple moments to be aware of their placement options.

2. Pick one: one publisher, one platform, one account

First, pick one publisher to reach out to. I understand that you're trying to reach as many publishers as possible, but if you @reply me and five of my competitors in the same message, we're probably all going to ignore you. Likewise, if you tweet the same message to different people all in a row, you risk looking like a spammer. Even if Twitter doesn't think you're spamming, I'm going to give you a gentle side-eye if I click over to your timeline and see that you've sent the exact same message to a bunch of other bloggers.

In a similar vein, you only need to reach out via one platform at a time, and via one account at a time. Hashtagging #offbeatbride on Instagram with the same photo from your business AND personal accounts doesn't make me twice as likely to regram the photo. If you've already tweeted me an image, you don't need to also send it to me on Facebook, and hashtag it on Instagram. Pick one publisher to reach out to. Pick one platform to do it from. And pick one account to use.

3. Be sparing with the hashtags

I love browsing photos tagged #offbeatbride on Instagram… I love seeing couple's snapshots and keeping up with what Offbeat Bride vendors are doing. But it's a bit overwhelming when vendors tag 10 photos in a row. Be judicious with your hashtagging — only do one or two pictures at a time, and let things breathe a little between tags. It's a really fine line between sharing your stuff with a hashtag, and spamming a hashtag to promote your business. Always err on the side of caution with that fine line, especially if you're not a paying advertiser.

4. Don't use Facebook comments to promote your business

Again, most publishers' business models are all about helping businesses reach their readers. If you leave a self-promotional comment on an Offbeat Bride Facebook post, you're trying to work around my business model. I looooove the vendors we work with, but it feels pretty icky when vendors we're NOT working with try to use my platform to reach my readers without checking in first. I want to work with you! But I don't want you trying to spam my readers.

The first time a vendor leaves a Facebook comment that's all about promoting their business, their comment gets deleted. The second time they do it, they get banned from commenting again. (I'll admit that sometimes I screw this up — with the number of self-promotional comments that come in from similar businesses, I've been known to get tangled up about first vs second strikes. We all make mistakes, and I'm not exempt by any means!)

The moral of the story here? I LOVE working with awesome businesses to help you reach our Offbeat Bride's million monthly readers… but using our Facebook comments to reach them isn't the way that works.

Ok, so what's the RIGHT way to get a free social media mention?

To reiterate: none of these missteps are terrible crimes against humanity. They just all are things that take up YOUR valuable time, and aren't effective. And really, as small business owners, we're all dealing with trying to do the most with the time we've got, to market our businesses as effectively as we can.

The perfect way to get my attention on social media looks like this:

  1. Be an advertiser already
  2. @Reply or hashtag me with one cool image, from one account
  3. If it's awesome, I'll retweet it or regram it
  4. Everyone smiles

Yay!

As I said at the beginning, this stuff is slippery and subjective… anyone have any thoughts or questions?

  1. I agree with the Facebook comments and promoting a business. Unless the facebook page says you can promote your business, I think is very tacky and rude in my opinion to promote your business on a comment section especially when it doesn't have to do anything with the subject. I consider it spammy really. And I cannot stand the hashtag overage either. I would rather put in the hard work to build my brand name than to be rude about it.

    6 agree
    • Over the years, it's been interesting to watch the shift with self-promotional comments… it used to be something that vendors did a lot of on blogs because for a brief moment in the mid-'00s, it could help with SEO. (That hasn't worked since 2005, but lots of folks didn't get the memo.)

      In 2014, only our most dedicated readers take the time to actually comment on the blogs, so blog comment spam isn't as much of an issue… now it's all Facebook comment spam.

      Now, I want to be clear: I love having vendors participate in conversations on Facebook, and sometimes they have really valuable contributions! A comment that says, "I MAKE CUSTOM SHOES YOU SHOULD CHECK THEM OUT…" is not an valuable contribution… nor is it effective marketing.

      I have a lot of sympathy for small business owners (after all, I am one!)… and I always wanna be like, "Dude, you guys: why are you wasting your time? Has this ever worked for you?"

      I think people don't realize how affordable paid placement can be. You're WAY better paying $100 for a custom campaign social media blast, than you are spending $100-worth of your valuable time posting comments that get deleted…

      9 agree
      • I totally agree and I didn't realize that OBB only charges $100 for a custom campaign. I've been spending hard earned money–monthly at that- on other forums with no results. I will definitely be looking into making OBB a part of my main marketing. Thanks for the points!

        2 agree
  2. Totally agree. I have worked really hard and spent a good deal of money building my social media platforms, especially Facebook. I certainly don't mind if someone comments under their FB business name and it is legitimate commentary. But more and more people are starting to just make promotional comments under my posts. It really puts me in an uncomfortable position, as I didn't want to offend anyone by removing their posts. But I guess I'll have to start, since it is becoming more frequent. It really isn't very professional for other businesses to piggyback off the hard work of others for free. At least be considerate enough to ask permission first!

    4 agree
    • It's really interesting to hear that vendors are dealing with people doing this on THEIR pages, too! I assumed it was just something that vendors were doing with publication pages on Facebook, but they're doing it on other vendors' pages too? Oy. That's really ineffective business networking. 🙁

      Vendors: references from your colleagues are one of the best sources of referrals! Don't burn bridges by aggressively marketing yourself on a colleague's Facebook page. Build meaningful connections with each other… it's worth it!

      6 agree
  3. agree on all points. i'm always trying to keep myself in check….and i can never remember to hashtag anything anyways. Eternally GREATFUL for offbeat bride and how yall help us, educate us and put out amazing content. I'm more than happy with my vendor ad and itz effectiveness. 😉 <3 THANKS OBB!

    1 agrees

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