social media marketing mistakes

Social media marketing is here to stay, and if the past five years are any indication, it’s only going to get bigger as time goes on. And obviously, social media is a great tool to use for martial art school marketing…

Unfortunately however, I see martial art school owners abusing social media left and right. I believe this stems from the mistaken belief that social media is a marketing Swiss Army knife, when instead it’s more of a scalpel where small business marketing is concerned.

Sure, social media can be used in many ways, but for small business marketing purposes it has a few very specific purposes which are almost exclusively limited to audience engagement and brand building. Outside of those two applications, there’s not a lot else you should be doing with social media; at least, not in the capacity of representing your business.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to list the top 8 social media marketing mistakes that I see school owners make.

Hopefully, this list will help you avoid damaging your brand (or embarrassing yourself) in the most public manner possible. And if you read this list and find you’ve committed one of these social media marketing blunders, you’re not alone. In fact, I’ve probably committed half of these or more at some point (and at times have paid dearly for them).

And what should you do if you’ve committed one of these errors? First, stop! Second, never do it again. And third, start using your social media accounts exclusively for engaging with your audience (customers) and building your brand.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #1: Using Social Media to “Discipline” Clients

Social media is NOT a tool for information dissemination, it is an engagement tool. Information dissemination is talking to; engagement is speaking with. Big difference.

I actually made this mistake early on with my email newsletter, and learned the hard way that such matters are best handled in private, one-on-one conversations. No, I didn’t call out anyone specifically (more on that in a minute); however, I did use my newsletter to announce my displeasure at something a small number of clients were doing in my school.

Well, the next day one of my most loyal clients brought it to my attention that I was effectively destroying my reader engagement by addressing negative issues in my newsletter. She said something to this effect: “I opened my inbox and clicked on your newsletter, read it, and thought to myself, ‘Why should I have to read this crap?'”

Her honest and blunt feedback made me realize if that was what my most loyal clients where thinking, then I seriously needed to reconsider how I was using my newsletter to communicate with my clients. From that point on, I stopped bitching at my “problem” clients in my newsletter and started addressing such matters individually, which is what I should have done in the first place.

Social media is no different. When I see martial art school owners posting things like, “Please remember that tuition is due on the first!” or “To whoever ripped the mats – you suck!” I inwardly cringe. That’s because I know that by publicly griping about such matters in social media, you’re hurting your image and decreasing your ability to engage your audience online.

Instead, you’d be better off addressing these issues directly and in person. So, stop griping at your problem clients online, because you’re only hurting your image and probably turning off even your best clients when you do it.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #2: Having A Pity Party In Public On Social Media

Look, no one freaking cares if you have a cold, are depressed, got the wrong sandwich in your takeout order, that your dog died, or whether your girlfriend left you for the seminar instructor you brought in last week.

Well, there is one person who cares, but she birthed you and probably doesn’t follow your Tweets.

So, save the drama for your mama, and stick to the agenda when you’re on social media. Quit whining online, and instead focus on engaging your customers and building your brand.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #3: Talking About El Numero Uno 24/7/365

Ever meet a person at a party or on a first date, and they just go on and on about how great they are? You couldn’t get away fast enough, right?

Well, social media is just one big digital conversation, which is why you definitely don’t want to be that person online. That’s why you need to check yourself with regards to talking about yourself all the time on social media. And yes, I’m quite aware that the Book of Face is designed specifically for narcissists, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like a narcissist to use it.

Instead of focusing on yourself, how about engaging your audience with some useful information, or some inspirational quotes, or with something that will make them smile (tastefully, of course)? Or even better, why not talk about how awesome your clients are? (Hint: When marketing a small business, that’s really the best thing to talk about online – success stories.)

Bottom line; talk about yourself maybe 1% of the time, and use the other 99% of your posts to engage your audience.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #4: Selfies

No explanation needed. I don’t care if you’re fitness model thin (unless you are a fitness model, in which case I suppose selfies go with the territory) or if you just lost 30 lbs (and I sure don’t want to see your hairy back on Facebook – I see mine everyday, and that’s about my limit on flesh that requires depilatory attention).

Unless there’s another person in the photo, don’t post it to your business social media account. Ever.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #5: Being A Little TOO Real

There needs to be a line drawn that no business owner should cross as far as what’s appropriate to post in social media. Fellas, I’m just going to be straight up with you here… if it makes you feel all tingly below your black belt, don’t post it.

Ditto goes for posting pictures of your wild night out on the town (ladies, this also includes you). Definitely not a great way to build brand awareness. Uh-uh.

Look, you have to remember that everyone sees everything you do on social media (see #7 below for more on this). That means everyone from that kid in your 4-6 year-old class, to her mom, to your grandparents are going to read what you post online. And, you will be judged by your posts.

Just remember that every impression you give online is a potential first impression, so keep your accounts rated “G” or “PG” at most, every time you get on social media, and you’ll be fine.

Social Media Marketing Mistake #6: Calling Someone Out In Social Media

While this mistake is usually only perpetrated by sociopathic martial arts instructors, I’ve seen some otherwise reasonable individuals doing this on occasion. I can only assume it’s because they’ve seen some sociopath with a high rank or lots of status doing it in the past, so they assume it’s normal behavior (in case you’re wondering, it’s not).

Look, when you publicly call someone out, whether it’s a student for doing something you don’t like, another instructor because you disagree with the way they tie their belt, or your mom for forgetting your birthday (even if it really hurt your feelings that she didn’t bake you a cake), you are just making yourself look like an ass in front of hundreds of people.

And here’s the kicker – social media is viral. This means that, if you do or say something really dumb, chances are it’s going to get picked up by someone somewhere and shared all over the place from now until they pull the plug on the internet.

Which is to say, forever.

So, please restrain yourself (and for Pete’s sake, stay off social media if you’ve had one too many).

Social Media Marketing Mistake #7: Thinking No One Reads Your Personal Feed

Many years ago Brian Tracy began telling people to assume that everyone knows everything you do, which is why you must be on your best behavior at all times. And, with the advent of social media this advice is even more relevant today.

Knowing that social media is, well, social – why would you think that stuff you post on your personal accounts won’t be seen by your clients? Even if they aren’t subscribed to your updates or on your friends list, all it takes is for someone to share your embarrassing or off-color remark or post, and BOOM!

And then you can’t take it back.

Here’s a tip – just assume that everyone reads your personal feed. So before you post anything online, consider whether or not it’s appropriate for everyone you influence in and through your school. If not, don’t post it (and believe me, the world will go on just fine without seeing the YouTube clip of the fat lady puking on the roller coaster).

Social Media Marketing Mistake #8: Overreacting To Trolls

It’s the internet, people… trolls are everywhere. And, our industry seems to attract more than its fair share. Well, one thing you need to accept right now is that trolls go with the territory when you’re using social media.

So when some 12-year-old cyber-ninja comments on your YouTube video that you’d get KTFO’d in the cage, or when someone from that other branch of your martial art style tells you you’re doing it all completely wrong, or when someone comments that your instructor was a hamster and his master smelt of elderberries… perhaps it would be prudent to be the adult and just ignore it.

Engaging these people only makes it worse. Either block them and remove their comments, or leave it alone. Otherwise, you may end up having an epic social media meltdown like this couple did, in a momentary lapse of self-control that is now memorialized on multiple websites, permanently. That is no bueno, and something you want to avoid at all costs.

Trust me, your ego will recover from being called out by ninja_thugz123, but your image might not if you lose your cool online. Don’t feed the trolls.

The Takeaway…

The moral of the story here is that social media marketing mistakes can have both an immediate and a lasting impact on your business. Yes, social media marketing is a boon to business owners everywhere, but it must be respected and used with caution in order to reap the rewards that it offers.

Bottom line? Focus on engaging your customers in meaningful ways that are laser-targeted to their needs and desires, and always put your best foot forward online to avoid tarnishing your brand. By doing so, you’ll be building an asset that you can leverage for virtually free marketing for years and years to come.

Questions or Comments?

Have a horror story or a funny story to share about a social media marketing mistake you witnessed or committed? Feel free to share it below. And for more information on how to market your martial art school effectively, click here.

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