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Yellow yield sign on a pink background. Don't make these common social media mistakes!

10 Common Social Media Mistakes

Justin Wilson & Michael Bird & Eleonora Israele

Jan 24, 2024

Creating and maintaining your social media presence as a business, without a clear plan or budget, could result in a social media fail. Whether major or minor, a snafu on social can be catastrophic for brands if not dealt with properly, so knowing how to avoid them is key to a thriving social media strategy. This post outlines common social media mistakes to look out for, that can stymy your brand. Once you're ready to build a robust social program, download our ebook, Driving Growth With Social.

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 want to engage with it), the 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. Thinking All Social Media Platforms Are the Same

Row of identical black coats on hangers in a closet. Not all social media sites are the same.

To the novice social media marketer, most social media platforms may look and feel the same. Users have profiles and post status updates, videos, thoughts, complaints, photos of their food, and links to their favorite sites.

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. For example, YouTube is for posting videos while Instagram is the most visual-forward platform overall, ideal for photos and short-form videos. Twitter remains the king of micro-blogging and LinkedIn is the place for business thought-leadership and professional community building.

With this in mind, you don’t want to spread yourself too 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 or two network to start with – the one where you are most likely to engage your audience (and they with you). Is your audience really interested in your content across all the social networks? Are you sure? All of them?!

2. Not Having a Plan, or a Company-wide Social Media Policy

Person writing out a set of rules and guidelines for employees on social media, at a table with a coffee cup

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's not a good look.

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. Use our handy template for drafting employee social media guidelines to get started.

3. Always Selling, Ignoring Messages or Complaints

Social media is all about engaging the end user — and nothing disengages people more than feeling like they're simply part of a transaction. That’s not to say that you can never sell on social, you just need to earn the right by posting other non-sales content. And make sure you pick your moment carefully, unlike these guys.

Almost 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 public messages 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 can do is ignore these posts. 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 rude or defamatory language, you can attempt to move the conversation to a private exchange rather than continue the discussion in the comments section. This shows you are actively attempting to resolve the issue.

4. Not Taking Advantage of Social Media Marketing Tools

Most of the big social media platforms 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 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.

But to really peek under the hood, and strategize based on what the metrics are telling you — across all the platforms you use, a more comprehensive analytics solution is necessary.

5. Focusing on the Quantity of Likes and Follows, Rather Than the Quality

Like icon on a phone in the grass. Focusing on like quantity only is a social media mistake many companies make

Social shares and followers are important, but are your followers actually clicking through to the content you’re sharing? How deeply engaged are they with your content? 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.

Marketing Land reports that while “social media enthusiasts” account for 85% of a brand’s social media interaction, they make up only 29% of a brand’s audience. Furthermore, many are designated as “dabblers” and “lurkers” rather than buyers. Digging into your metrics will help you better understand whether your brand is only connecting superficially with these dabblers and lurkers, or truly translating into deeper relationships and ultimately more sales.

At the end of the day, social media is about building customer relationships so that they will want to buy from you, but if your 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.

6. Overdoing Your Posts

Large assortment of all different legos and toys. Overdoing it with too many posts is a common social media mistake

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 products, your sports team, your family, and your politics, you are doing it wrong. You should approach posting as your business through a more strategic and focused lens if you want to achieve success on social.

  • The number of times that you post per day should 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 unfollows and a decrease in engagement. Post no more than two or three times a day, if necessary, and try to space out your posts. Check out our guide to the best times to post on social for some helpful tips.
  • 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 scheduling in advance and having a steady stream of content prepared. They're also very helpful for reaching audiences that are in different time zones. But it's a good idea to sprinkle in real-time posts with your automated posts to assure your readers that you’re authentic and a real person is behind your social media strategy. Responding to trending news is and memes is a great way to incorporate real-time posting.

7. Ignoring Evergreen Content & Third Party Sharing

Grove of evergreen trees against the setting sun. Evergreen content is a great asset for posting on social

In order to build a steady audience, you need consistent posts to drive interaction and interest. What matters most is both the quality and consistency of the posts. Short on content? It's a common problem, and many companies make the mistake of thinking they only need push new articles out on social; when in fact you have a huge library of evergreen content to pick from. Repurpose or update an older post to re-share on social. The benefit here is you can compare how it performs against the previous time it was shared. Experiment with switching up the post copy or image used to see what your audience responds to.

Another option for content to fill your calendar with is sharing third-party articles and thought-leadership pieces from your industry. This helps break up your profile and illustrates to your followers that you're actively involved in learning and appreciating everything going on in your sector.

8. 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 see first when they visit your profile.

Make sure your profile picture / logo is accurate and up to date, and that your header image does the best job of helping explain who you are, welcoming people to your social profile.

“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 “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.”

9. Not Knowing Where Your Clients Are

Person holding a compass on a dirt trail. Not knowing where your clients and prospective clients are on social is a costly mistake

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. Use a social listening tool to uncover where people are already talking about you on social media, and in what context!

10. You Get What You Pay For

Person with American money in hand, paying for a drink. You get what you pay for when it comes to social media so don't make the mistake of not investing in proper resources

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 in advance, or inconsistent messaging invalidates the integrity of your company and decreases viewer click-through rates.

Ready to plan a social media program that avoids these common social media mistakes? Fill out the form to demo some social media tools that will help ensure your social strategy soars.