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12 most common social media marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

It seems like the whole world’s on social media now and for that reason, every company is exploring and using social media as a marketing channel to pitch their products to their audience. 

Apart from helping your brand connect with target and existing buyers, social media widens your brand’s reach and adds to its recognition - as long as you avoid the common social media marketing mistakes and stick to best practices. 

According to a study by Statista, “90 percent of U.S. businesses use social media for marketing and promotions.”

However, “80% of companies think that they deliver exceptional social media customer service”, points out Smart Insights, “while only 8% of the customers of those companies say that they agree with this.”

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That’s an example of social media strategies gone wrong. Sometimes, brands do not see expected results because of their irrelevant, outdated, inept social media marketing strategies.

Making mistakes is human. We all make them. 

But learning from our own and other peoples’ (brands) mistakes around us is very helpful. This article highlights 12 examples of common social media marketing mistakes and gives you some tips on how to avoid making those mistakes.

#1. Not having any social media marketing strategy

Many emerging brands still do not value social media enough when strategizing and still do not recognize that social media is already absolutely business-critical. 

Thousands of businesses around the world, even some of your competitors, are using social media effectively to reach their audience and promote their products. Frankly, every brand that takes its business seriously should make the same effort, and learn “how to do social media”.

Develop your brand’s very own social media strategy - it’s an essential foundation to everything else that follows. And having a social media marketing strategy doesn’t just mean making a certain number of posts per day, it’s quite a bit more than that.

An effective social media marketing strategy includes an action plan and clearly defined goals. It also describes the types of posts – images, videos, blog URLs, reshares, retweets, hashtags, events, and defining your social media brand tone of voice.

#2. Not tracking your results

Social media marketing is a powerful way of promoting your brand and you can track your progress in real-time. This allows you to make strategic changes in your campaign and target audiences on the go. You can stop a non-performing ad at any moment and save your budget until the ad has been re-optimized.

However, to expect amazing results from your very first post or campaign is a bit optimistic. It always takes some tweaking and testing to start getting the best results - so, track and learn from your social media campaigns and continue toward your business goals.

#3. Thinking each social network is the same

This is one of the biggest mistakes a large number of brands make. Many brands post the same content in the same formats with the same copy across all their social platforms.

Each social platform is unique in many ways. Different social media channels have different strengths, features, marketing tools, and also diverse audiences with varying demographics, behaviors, and interests.

So, bear in mind your updates and marketing strategies for each social network should be distinctive and tailored to the audience on specific platforms.

Take Snapchat as an example. Would you really advertise to a Snapchat audience the same way as you do your Facebook audience? That would be a mistake. Snapchat's audience is extremely specific (check out this guide to Snapchat ads), and advertisers who fail to research their audience before using that platform could be losing a lot of time and money. 

So it's clear: make sure you don't fall into the trap of forgetting that different platforms have different audiences.

#4. Avoiding, deleting, counterattacking negative comments

Negative feedback gives you a chance to improve the quality of your service and build trust within your brand community. When a customer is unhappy with your service and he posts a harsh, negative comment, many brands choose to ignore it, and some even try to delete it or reply with even harsher statements.

Let’s see this from a different angle. That is your chance to turn the complainant into a loyal customer – one that returns as well and tells others about your great customer service. In fact, it helps boost your online customer loyalty efforts.

Take negative comments seriously and try to resolve the issue(s) the customer is facing. Engage with them initially on the thread then try to take the conversation onto back channels and deal with it more privately.

Cuckoo's Bakery's response to a negative review on their Facebook page is a great example of how brands should handle customer complaints on social media. The response is personalized, respectful, and it explains clearly how the company handled the problem.

#5. Not engaging with customers/followers

Increased engagement is a common social media marketing KPI. However, many brands do not engage with users’ comments on their feed which gives the impression that the brand isn’t interested in fomenting conversation with their community.

When someone replies to your post, make sure your social media team responds too – and as soon as possible. The more you respond (like or comment back) the more your customers will want to engage.

Each comment on your business page is an opportunity to increase engagement and invite more users to participate. And when you are actively participating, you can expect follower growth and a higher engagement rate.

#6. Not targeting your target

Social media is a place where you can find and connect with your target audience or the people that fit buyer marketing personas. If you do not understand who your target audience are, results will be disappointing – no matter how hard you work on your social networks.

Having a generic or all-inclusive audience is like shooting in the dark. Your posts are not going to bring any engagement if your audience – the ones who are actually interested in your products – does not see them. For broad, generic audiences, your products or services will likely be of no interest.

Define a buyer persona. Based on that, identify the different segments of people (such as age, gender, city, state, industry, preferences, etc.) and deliver your campaigns in a tailored and personal way.

Learn how to create tailored marketing experiences your audiences will love with this step-by-step guide!

#7. No human touch

My brand is my business. If that’s your approach on social media, you are not going to get very far. People want to connect with people, right? Humans that act and feel like them.

For brands, social media profiles are a place where they can show their human side and connect with like-minded humans. Just as humans greet and connect with each other, your brand page too should too.

Social media is for socializing. Use it to show your audience that your brand is a social creature just like them - it’s an effective way to build trust.

Slack has mastered the art of creating relatable Instagram posts. The company frequently features photos of their employees or headquarters on their Instagram profile, which helps to humanize their brand and build authentic relationships with their followers.

#8. Too much brand promotion

Another social media marketing mistake that many brands make. When you over-promote your products and services, believe it or not, many of your followers will start to lose interest. 

Keep your promotional activities to a minimum. Best practice says to follow a pattern of posting one promotional post for every four non-promotional posts. 

Non-promotional updates can be reshares, an image or photo that shows your brand culture, or your office or your work culture, how-to guides, infographics or blog pieces. Try to share something that brings value to your audience.

#9. Buying followers

In most cases, this is considered a sin. Some brands buy followers or get involved in follower exchange programs. It brings negligible business results and only serves to soothe brands’ egos and gives the outward appearance of being popular. It also increases the chances of getting your page banned or deleted forever. 

Some people organize contests and give out free goodies to increase their follower base on social platforms. This may sound like a non-risk move, however, this can bring followers that are interested in goodies but not your products. 

Rather, use your social network to offer free valuable, useful content that has been created to help your audience and see your followers count grow.

#10. Not being regular

So, you made a strategy that said you would post three posts per day. But you’re busy with other important aspects of your business, you forgot to post a single update. What a mess!

Once you have a strategy and become regular with your posts, not posting for a single day can affect your impressions and engagement rates, damaging your social media marketing efforts to date. Not being regular with your updates means your content can get hidden from most of your followers.

As a solution, smart social media marketers schedule their posts automatically for certain times of the day or week. You should also avoid posting an update just because you have to - but planning your publishing on a social media content calendar will preclude that.

Want to make sure you have an ample number of posts for each day of the week? Get a social media editorial calendar and easily organize all your content, so you can publish more regularly.

#11. Unedited, unproofed content going live

You have brilliant copywriters and super-active social media managers but if unproofed content loaded with grammatical errors or off-message content goes live on your brand’s social media, it’s very damaging to brand perception.

Make it mandatory for your managers to double-check every piece of content scheduled to be published. Check for errors on the images, videos, and texts on graphics, too.

You can easily avoid silly grammatical errors or publishing unauthorized posts by setting up content approval flows.

#12. Not Using Paid Promotional Tools

Each social platform has its own marketing and advertising channel - premium paid services that allow you to showcase your products directly to your target audience who – based on their interests and preferences – could become potential customers.

Deliver your interactive, appealing content such as images and videos, get leads, and sell using the paid advertising channels of leading social platforms - it can really boost your ROI.

The takeaway

Here’s the takeaway - there’s no one thing that you need to do to make your social media efforts top-notch. It’s about taking care of each aspect and aligning your goals and processes to ensure that you do the basics well and build on that.

Take an audience-first approach - set a clear strategy with objectives, bring value to your customers, demonstrate customer care, don’t be sloppy, and fulfill audience expectations. If you put these tips into practice you should be well on your way to having social media that grows your customer base and skyrockets your ROI - which is what we all want.

About the Author

Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is the founder of Lbswebsoft, where he helps his clients to build powerful brands through content marketing, search engine optimization, website development, and web design. He is a writer and author on Social Media Week, SEMrush, e27, and other publications. You can follow him online at Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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