Brands must ensure their social channels are focussed on being social not selling says HopperHQ co-founder Mike Bandar.

Companies too often use social media as an opportunity for a hard sell, but this could actually end up driving potential customers away says Bandar.

The Birmingham-based Instagram planning and scheduling tool has been included in BusinessCloud’s 101 Rising Stars of Tech Start-Ups list and decreases the time it takes to post on the picture-based social platform from on average three minutes using other social media tools to almost nothing.

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Bandar says: “Social media is incredibly important for businesses. Marketing has become increasingly two-way – it’s about what can I learn from customers and what can they learn from us?

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“The beauty of social is that it’s social. People aren’t there to be marketed to, which is why if look at the ROI for Facebook ads it’s continued to diminish – partly because of ad blocking and partly because if I’m only in a room to speak to a friend why would I listen to a brand?”

This, says Bandar, is linked to the rise of influencer marketing, where users see content from people they trust on social media that are still adverts but feel more authentic.

Crucially it also allows brands to position themselves to reach friends of their audiences.

“Social media has the opportunity for brands to feel authentic. So many people are doing it in such an amazing way it’s essential for brands not just to post on social but to use it as a tool to build relationships with audiences and communicate in social ways.”

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However, using these channels in the wrong way could also do long-lasting damage to a brand.

“If you’re using social as a sales channel that can work to your disadvantage,” says Bandar.

“If I see your products come up on my feed every few days that’s amazing. But if there are constant posts saying ‘buy this buy this’ then I might unfollow because I might not be in the buying cycle, and it’s a negative action.

“It only takes a few pictures that don’t resonate with a user to get that unfollow and get that negative feeling toward the brand.”