10 Common Social Media Mistakes

Social media phone use
Social media phone use

Creating and maintaining a social media presence without a clear plan or budget could result in a social media fail. This post outlines other common social media mistakes that can stymy your brand. Once you're ready to build a robust social program, download our ebook, Social to Scale.

Social media is a big opportunity for most organizations, whether they are B2B or B2C, or whether they operate online or from a physical location. And while the theory of social media is simple (i.e. if I write great content, people will be able to engage with it), execution is not quite as straightforward.

Here are some common mistakes that are made on social media that you should do your best to avoid:

  1. Pretending all social media platforms are the same

  2. Not having a plan and company-wide social media policy

  3. Always selling, and ignoring messages and complaints

  4. Not taking advantage of social media marketing tools

  5. Focusing on the quantity of likes and follows rather than the quality

  6. Overdoing your posts

  7. Posting Irrelevant, Inconsistent Content

  8. Not Optimizing Your Profile

  9. Not Knowing Where Your Clients Are

  10. You Get What You Pay For

Pretending all social media platforms are the same

To the novice social media marketer, all social media platforms may look the same. Most users have profiles and post status updates, thoughts, complaints, photos of their food and links to their favourite sites. And videos.

But it would be unwise to treat all social media platforms the same because they aren’t. Each channel targets different demographics and some of them also function very differently. YouTube, for example, is for posting videos, and Instagram is the best site for posting pictures.

With this in mind, you don’t want to spread yourself thin by being present on all social media platforms. Rather than creating accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, you should focus your efforts on one network to start with – the one where you are most likely to engage your audience. Also, is your audience interested in your content across all the social networks? Are you sure? All of them?!

Typos and grammar will also happen on social media, but when they do it distracts the user from the message which you are trying to communicate. So avoiding them will help your message resonate.

Not having a plan and company-wide social media policy

If you don’t know what you want to achieve with social media, how can you possibly hope to achieve it? Do you want your account to drive traffic, entertain, be a customer service channel, be a PR platform, or something else?

Also, there’s a pretty solid chance that nearly every one of your employees is on some type of social media platform. Whether they’re posting on Facebook or blogging, they’re talking, and they might be talking about your company.

Nothing is ever truly private on the Internet, even on a private social media account. Some things that your employees post or share may end up coming back to bite you, especially if they’re talking about product or service plans. If your employees are bad-mouthing your company, it also makes you look bad, even if your employees were actually at fault. The court of public opinion on the Internet doesn’t care much for fact.

Establish a company social media policy and ensure that everyone reads through it and signs it. Outline what is appropriate to post and what is not appropriate, and when you’re discussing a new product or service launch, make sure your employees know that discussing it on social media will be considered a breach of contract.

Always selling, and ignoring messages and complaints

Social media is all about engaging the end user–and nothing disengages people more than selling all the time. That’s not to say that you can never sell, you just need to earn the right by posting other non-sales content. And make sure you pick your moment carefully, unlike these guys.

All social media sites have a way to send and receive personal or direct messages, and they allow other users and brands to tag one another. Users can also write on your business page’s Facebook page or tweet at you on Twitter. While the majority of your feedback will probably be positive or neutral, you may face some problems with complaints from users who are upset with your company.

The worst thing you could possibly do is ignore them. It comes off as cowardly to your followers and it makes you look guilty by default.

For every complaint you receive, you have the opportunity to turn the complaint into a positive experience and show your customers that you do care. Address the problem directly and make it clear that you are sorry and want to rectify the situation. Never engage in an argument or try to win it. If a customer gets out of hand and begins using foul or rude language, simply tell the user that you will message them privately to discuss the issue further, but you will not continue this discussion in the comments section. This shows you have control of the situation, and though you care, you’re not willing to sink down to a verbal argument.

Not taking advantage of social media marketing tools

Most of the big social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest—have their own marketing tools that businesses can use to reach out to new prospects and retarget lost visitors. To some marketers though, ignorance is bliss, and they’d rather not mess with social media advertising and concentrate on Google Adwords.

Analytics packages for the 3 ‘old’ social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are pretty good to help you learn more about the data of your presence on each platform. You should invest time looking at analytics to see where you could improve your social media offerings. And if your social media accounts drive traffic to your website, then it makes sense to continue posting. Checking your web analytics will also give you insight into which social channel converts to page views.

With Facebook advertising, for example, you can post advertisement banners along the sides of the newsfeed and promote your website, an offer or even an upcoming webinar or trade show. You can search for users with Facebook Audience by their geographical location, age, gender or even hobby, which will allow you to put your hand directly into the hands of those who need them the most.

Focusing on the quantity of likes and follows rather than the quality

Take a look at the number of Facebook or Twitter followers you have. How many of them are actually customers of yours? There are a million reasons why a person might like your page, but just because they liked your page doesn’t mean they want to buy from you.

At the end of the day, social media is about building customer relationships so that they will want to buy from you, but if you message is going out to people who never wanted to be your customer in the first place, then you’re wasting your time and efforts.

Remember, a “like” doesn’t equal a sale. Focus on building brand loyalty and awareness with the real customers who are connecting with you on social media, and you’ll be more likely to convert followers into buyers.

Also, don’t buy followers. It never works. Ever. And it completely defeats the whole point of social media. You should be focused on your reach rather than your audience size. Just because they are following you, doesn’t mean they are listening. And if you buy followers, they are not listening and most likely, not real people.

Overdoing your posts

With all the cool things you can do on social media, there are those who get just a little too wrapped up in it. If you’re guilty of a few of these overdoing-it crimes, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

You should consider your audience when you are posting. Would they be interested in what you are saying? If you are using one platform to talk about your business, your sports team, your family, and your politics, you are getting it wrong. You should focus on posting about one topic and do it brilliantly.

  • The number of times that you post per day should also differ by social network:
    The lifespan of a tweet is far smaller than the lifespan of a Facebook post, for example. So, spend some time working out what frequency you can commit to and dig into your analytics to find out when your audience is most likely to be online – this will maximize your reach.
  • Posting too frequently:
    There is definitely some merit to the saying, “Too much of a good thing.” Even if your followers like your posts and engage with them, posting too frequently may result in a few unfollows. Post no more than two or three times a day, if necessary, and try to space out your posts. Check out our guide and infographic to understand how often and when to post on social media.
  • Liking too frequently:
    As a business, you shouldn’t really be liking your followers tweets or posts unless they specifically mention you or your product or service.
  • Posting too much through automation:
    Automation tools are great for helping you post at times when you can’t be at a computer, such as in the middle of the night, but most social media sites will mention when posts are made. Your followers will know when it’s a robot talking to them. Sprinkle in real-time posts with your automated posts to assure your readers that you’re authentic and a real person.

Posting Irrelevant, Inconsistent Content

Your audience is busy and easily distracted. Therefore, your content should be relevant, consistent with your brand, interesting, and eye-catching. Never post without an image and always test your links before you post. In fact, a survey on social media marketing best practices found that videos and images perform best for companies. The content you choose to share and promote should reflect these trends–match what your audience wants to see.

Not Optimizing Your Profile

If the main purpose of your social media posts is to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, it’s important to consider what customers will see when they click on your link.

“Social media marketing provides a tremendous opportunity to drive traffic to your B2B website. You can optimize your profiles with a detailed description of your company and a link that directs back to your site,” advises Emily Ahlbum of online marketing company Emagine.com. “It’s also important to know that social media content is now indexed by search engines. So be sure to consider each tweet or status update as a piece of content that can be optimized for search engines.”

Not Knowing Where Your Clients Are

Depending on your industry or the services you offer, your audiences’ demographics may vary vastly. Tech start-ups tend to comprise of a younger audience, while established local business owners may skew a little older. For example, the 25-34 age group is the largest age group on social media but not by much.

“Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest fall into this category. Millennials age 18-24 consist of the most users on SnapChat, and Tumblr. LinkedIn is the odd-one-out, with 35-44-year-olds leading the way,” explains Tyler Becker on Social Media Week.

Knowing who your audience is and where they are can save you time and money.

You Get What You Pay For

In this day and age of social media marketing, many times you never get to see your client face-to-face. Your calling card is your social media shares, and your storefront is your website landing page. With this in mind, consider working with a social media marketer to get the cleanest campaign with the best results. Sloppy posts, not scheduling posts, or an inconsistent message invalidates the integrity of your company and decreases viewer click-through rates.

When you’re ready to plan a social media program that avoids these common social media mistakes and will work for your brand, download our ebook to get started.