We apologize if your jaw is injured from hitting the floor, but ready yourself for this: we just saw a tweet from a marketer advocating for buying social media followers. Once we got over the shock and possible concussion (seriously?!), we started thinking through some of the craziest pieces of marketing advice we can’t believe are still being passed around. Here’s a list of bad marketing advice we compiled that you should regard with the same level of distrust and NEVER follow.
Buying social media followers & email lists are a GREAT idea
Why this is bad: If you pressure wash a wall, you have a better chance of hitting more surface area. The more you have the better chance for success, right? Buying email lists is built upon the same premise, but you’re going to find that non-targeted emails and followers are going to fade and can even inhibit your results. In essence: you can’t buy love, you have to earn their trust—and their email and social media following.
What you can do: Build your followers and email lists organically with relevant information developed for your target audience. Spread the word about your email and social media offline as well, through coupons, an occasional contest, word of mouth with your customers, email signatures, and these ideas. If you want to do this strategically, contact a marketing firm that can recommend and execute organic email and social media building tactics.
SEO is dead
Why this is bad: This is a misperception based on the fact that old search engine optimization tactics (keyword stuffing, spammy links, etc.) don’t work in the evolving world of internet marketing. That doesn’t mean SEO is dead—far from it—it means that optimization has evolved into optimized writing and technology that delivers exactly what the search engines want: relevant, valuable content (on your website, blog via content marketing, social media, etc.).
What you can do: Embrace the new SEO because it gets results! You can either learn the new and continually evolving art of optimizing your website, blog, and social media with well-researched keywords and topics specifically targeted at your customers or hire the professionals who can (and can keep up with it). If you are a business with a local audience, you can take that a step farther by utilizing local SEO tactics.
You can use any image for marketing you find online
Why this is bad: There are many reasons this is a bad idea but the main reason is that it is STEALING. If you don’t pay for the images—or take them yourself—you are taking someone else’s work and using it without their permission. As such, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of legal action.
What you can do: Create or take your own photos, or hire a professional photographer or marketing firm to manage your images. You can also buy images from a popular service per graphic or through a long-term plan.
The more social media posts, the better
Why this is bad: This is one case where more is not always better. It’s more important to have regular posts so you stay in front of your audience than posting 10 times a day and then nothing for a week. The feast-or-famine approach does nothing to build brand awareness or to encourage consistent conversations.
What you can do: Create an integrated marketing plan that follows your business sales cycle and includes relevant information that your target audience wants to know. Make sure that your social media posts are a regular part of your plan, then use a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule regular posts that coordinate with your website, content marketing, and email marketing efforts.
Automate, automate, automate!
Why this is bad: Scheduling your email and social media is helpful, but automated posts and emails should not be all you do. If you want to start a conversation with your audience, you need to have some flexibility to respond—and to respond to hot topics and current events that come up.
What you can do: Create a marketing plan and use automation to carry it out. However, be ready to vary your schedule or add in an email or social media post that fits with the times.
Mobile marketing is optional.
Why this is bad: Next time someone tells you that you don’t need to cater to users with cell phones or tablets, plug your ears and start spouting statistics about the rising amount of mobile devices. The latest studies show that two-thirds of Americans have smart phones, and that number is only going to increase with time. Mobile marketing is not optional any more, it’s a MUST. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website and marketing tools, your audience is going to be driven away in droves.
What you can do: Create a mobile-friendly website (or contact a marketing firm that can) so your users don’t have to zoom in to read your text or squint to find your contact page. Remember, a lot of times they won’t bother, they’ll just hit the ‘back’ button.
Sell, sell, sell!
Why this is bad: This advice most likely comes from someone who views social media and content marketing as the “new” forum for advertising. While targeted social media advertising does get results, your business page or profile should not be used solely for selling. Your customers don’t want to be beaten over the head with endless posts and tweets or read content marketing pieces that are just about you.
What you can do: Use the 80/20 rule with 80% useful, entertaining, and interesting information and 20% selling content and posts. If you don’t know how to tackle this more subtle form of marketing, hire the experts that don’t give you crazy bad marketing advice.