Growth marketing

The 5 Biggest Challenges of Social Media Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Written by Chris DuBois / December 5, 2019

Chris is the Head of Operations and a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs who enjoys strategizing and writing content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.

When was the last time you measured the ROI of your social media marketing?

For many, social media marketing is a second-tier task. It's there to throw some additional traffic at your blog, but brands often leave their pages untouched except for the auto-publishing features of some platforms. While it doesn't cost a lot of effort, they're also not seeing the benefits of an actual social strategy.

If you want to experience the actual benefits social media platforms offer, you need to be ready to face some challenges. The good news is that by knowing what they are, you can enter the ring with your gloves up.

Conquering Social Media Marketing Without Breaking a Sweat

Understanding the challenges you'll face in a social media campaign can go a long way towards ensuring you can overcome them. But if you want to see actual ROI in 2019, you need to willing to invest time in breaking free of the noise. That means getting ahead of the challenges you'll face, so you're not forced to follow the same generic path as everyone else.

Because many brands have social media accounts, but few implement them into their strategy correctly. They don't embrace the benefits of each channel or focus on the right features to make it worthwhile. Then, when they're mid-campaign and not seeing the results they question the validity of social platforms, rather than seeing the true issue.

If you can accept the challenges that social media poses to a successful strategy, you'll be able to push through to better results. You won't be stuck in the mediocre performance like brands who make social a side-thought.

1. Designing Your Strategy

The first challenge you'll face is how to design your strategy. With so many platforms that are best served for specific industries, you need to have a plan pinned down, otherwise, you risk running an ineffective campaign.

To conquer this challenge, the first thing you should do is research. By taking a look at what your competitors are doing with their strategies, you can get an idea of what works and what doesn't within your industry. While you shouldn't copy exactly what they're doing, if you can narrow your focus to the best types of posts, you'll be better off.

After you know what's possible, you can establish SMART goals to drive your efforts. If you do this before you conduct research, your goals may not actually be achievable or realistic. While a B2C makeup brand sees tremendous results on Instagram, a B2B data storage tool will likely not.

Next, ensure you have an accurate way to measure your results. Most platforms have native analytics, but many marketers don't put them to use. Without a plan to capture your metrics, you'll never be able to set your SMART goals.

Finally, if you can build campaigns around your audience, instead of your product, you'll earn more engagement from your followers. This is the concept behind a customer-centric marketing approach, and it's one you should prioritize.

Many companies make the mistake of believing that users are there because they enjoy the product. While that may be true, the real reason they're following your account is that they have a problem they want to be solved, and your brand is positioned to help.

2. Analyzing Your Performance

One of the main reasons social media campaigns fail is because they have no plan for what to do with their data.

First, you need to ensure you're tracking the right metrics. If your goal is to increase awareness, "likes" are less valuable than shares or new followers. Understanding what each metric means for your campaign will drive your decisions based on the data you capture.


The easiest way to do this is by making use of the right tools. While native analytics are great, they often don't collect all the data you need. This is where a tool like HubSpot's Social Analytics comes in. The platform will monitor social mentions and standard stats for your social streams, also allowing you to automatically publish new content wherever you need it distributed.

The greatest benefit to HubSpot's tool, however, is how the data tracking is linked to their customer relationship management tool (CRM), allowing you to see the status of each of your leads. This offers additional insights, allowing you to see how users interact with your social accounts at different stages of the buyer's journey.

While searching for other insights, if you can break data into more manageable chunks, you'll be able to form more direct correlations. You wouldn't look at all your social accounts in one feed, but many marketers fail to look at specific types of posts or topics when looking for insights. Breaking it up will show exactly what's working for each platform, without requiring a guessing game.

3. Growing Your Audience

A challenge every brand will face at some point is growing an audience.

There are a lot of techniques and methods to accomplish this, but any brands are resorting to the one tactic that should never be used: purchasing followers.

Paying for an audience is one of the worst ways to grow your list. Not only is it dishonest, but those customers don't have a stake or desire in your brand. They won't interact with your posts because they're not invested in solving a problem like your true customers.


HubSpot regularly posts content on Twitter, usually polls, questions, and surveys, that engage their highly active audience and attracts more followers.

Instead, focus on providing valuable, engaging content that entices the people who actually want to back your brand. By focusing on content for a smaller audience, you can cover topics with more depth, making it higher quality content and engaging the readers you have, creating assets they will want to share.

While you're focused on giving them the correct content to help them through their problem, you should also interact with them. Customers appreciate replies and comments. It makes them feel connected to your brand and encourages them to continue interacting with your profile.

4. Increasing Audience Engagement

Even with a large following, getting people to interact can be a challenge.

To best attack this challenge, you need to know what your audience likes and needs. Once you know, it's just a matter of distributing content that builds on it.

This proves difficult, however, if you can't figure out the status change your audience is looking to gain. You see, people are constantly looking, often subconsciously, how they can improve their status. The issue arises because if you can't give them tangible proof that their status will change for the positive, they'd rather stay where they are now. This means they'll skip over sharing your content, even if they can win a free prize because your post won't help them earn a higher status with their crowd.

For example, an infographic on laxatives probably won't be well-shared unless it has a comedic spin. It's a topic some people may be embarrassed to make public, so finding an alternative approach to make it "cool" would be more effective.

To further your efforts, create conversations in your posts. If you can ask questions or create polls that generate discussion, even if you have to initiate it, more people will come out of the woodwork. By liking and sharing their posts, you're encouraging them to interact in return.

To better understand your audience, take a look at these 20 questions you should ask to refine your buyer personas.

5. Creating a Cross-Channel Approach

While your audience may prefer a single channel, you're missing out if you limit yourself.

Many marketers get tunnel vision, seeing results from one platform. While you should definitely address your audience on the platform they prefer, it's important not to neglect the other spots they congregate.

Using multiple platforms allows you to gain more insights into your target audience. Similarly, you may find different personas prefer different mediums, allowing you to better engage with that audience.

Each social platform has the best time to post, and they all have types of content that perform better. After knowing how you're going to approach each channel, establish workflows for publishing and sharing that match the parameters best served for each. And here, we've done some research to help you with when and what to post.

Building a Social Campaign That Surpasses Your Goals

If you truly want your social strategies to succeed, you need to be willing to face these challenges. Too many marketers do the minimum and expect more.

You'll get what you put into social media marketing, but if you can conquer these challenges, it'll be a whole lot easier.

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