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10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Could Be Holding You Back

Originally posted on

‘Tis the season: Guarantee your customer service is up to par on social media

We always hear about what we should be doing on social media; engage, post great content, post at the right times… And while this is all great advice, sometimes it’s more useful to know what you’re doing wrong in order to finally get things right. So, in this post, I want to share ten of the most common social media marketing mistakes that could be holding you back from getting the results.

Mistake no. 1: No planning or strategizing of social media marketing

One of the most common mistakes encountered in social media marketing is the failure to create a social media strategy before diving in with both feet. It may be because they don’t see the point to it and prefer to play it by ear as they go along, or it could simply be that it seems like a time-consuming process that isn’t really necessary to success.

But, planning your social media strategy is very much an essential part of having a successful social media presence, for several reasons:

  • Your social media marketing team will know exactly what the goals are

  • They will know what the tone of voice is and what the brand guidelines are, so as to avoid any inappropriate updates that could damage your brand

  • You will learn more about your audience and what types of updates they engage with the most

  • You will know exactly where to effectively distribute your resources

  • You will have a clear plan of action in place in case of any PR issues

A good social media strategy will need:

  • List of goals: Whether it’s increased brand awareness or more traffic, establish clear goals so that your team knows exactly what they’re working towards. Goals also help with measuring your social media ROI, as it will be clearer what exactly needs to be measured

  • Established brand values, tone of voice and guidelines: your social media team needs to know exactly what they are allowed to say, do and publish on social media, in order to avoid any potential issues.

  • Study of your audience: knowing your audience is an essential part of a strong social media strategy. It will help you understand what types of updates they respond best to, as well as help you distribute your resources where they can make a difference, as you find out what social networks are most popular with your target audience.  

  • Content strategy: as you learn more about your audience, you can also start planning the content you want to share. The more you plan your content, the more it will help you become more efficient. You can use various tools for this, such as Co-Schedule or Agorapulse.

  • In case of emergency: What is the plan of action in case there are any PR issues? What will your company’s response look like?

  • Measuring your results: how often will you be measuring your results, and what are the metrics that should be measured?

Mistake no. 2: Inconsistency

Another big issue that you’ll often encounter on social media is the lack of consistency. This can be in several different areas: from the types of updates you’re sharing and the tone of voice used to the times the updates are posted.

Once you start with social media marketing, consistency is massively important. All of the progress you make could be cancelled just by being inconsistent.

Again, this is why planning is so important. As you establish the brand tone of voice, the types of updates that should be shared and the amount of time that should be spent each day on social media, you make sure that the team managing your social media will be consistent across board.

Hashtags can be hugely beneficial, as they help you get discovered by more people, and therefore help you increase your engagement, traffic and followers.

The issue is, some have taken this and ran with it. On Twitter, you’ll see tweets made up of 95% hashtags, while on Instagram, it’s not that uncommon to see updates with dozens of hashtags. Sure, the limit on Instagram is of 30 tags per post, but that doesn’t mean you need to use that many.

The thing is, too many hashtags are ultimately doing more damage than good. On Twitter, they make your tweets almost unreadable, not to mention it will look like you’re desperate for attention and shares, particularly as a business. And so many people do this, it took me seconds to find an example:

On Instagram, on the other hand, while it is more common to use lots of hashtags in your updates, using too many, as a business, will make it look like you’re simply too sales-y. Not only should you not use the full 30 hashtag allowance, but rather you should try to keep it around 5, at most, while on Twitter, two hashtags should do the trick just fine – and only when they’re truly relevant to the update you’re posting.

Mistake no. 4: Not engaging enough

Many businesses fail to truly engage with their followers on social media. Engagement is one of the most important aspects of a good social media strategy; in fact, it’s essential towards achieving most goals that you could set for your social media.

It could be that they are only posting updates, or that they are only engaging when a user directly engages with them first. Whatever the case is, if you’re not engaging, you won’t be able to truly grow your profile with targeted, active followers.

Ideally, try to spend some time every day looking for opportunities to engage: ask and answer questions, participate in debates, be active in groups, respond to comments and generally, try to never overlook any openings to engage.

The more you engage with your followers, the more they will engage with you as well; that means, more shares and retweets, more comments, more likes and ultimately, more traffic and increased brand awareness.

Mistake no. 5: Not enough visuals make social a dull place

Visual content is becoming increasingly important on social media. It attracts more engagement, more shares, more likes and a good image, GIF or video could even help you become viral.

It’s why social networks like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest have grown in popularity so quickly. It’s also the reason why other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are starting to include more visual features to their portfolio.

To give you an idea of the effectiveness of visual content, studies have found that Facebook brand posts that included images got 87% of all Facebook engagement, and tweets with included images got 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets.  

Mistake no. 6: Not measuring your results

Another important aspect of a strong social media strategy that is often overlooked is the importance of measuring your results. Sure, people will likely check to see how their numbers (i.e. followers, likes etc.) are growing over time, but they’re not truly measuring their social media ROI.

Measuring your results is important for two main reasons: first off, social media is an investment like any other, and you need to find out whether you’re getting the results you need for the resources you’re spending; and secondly, by accurately measuring your results, you will find out whether you need to make any changes to your strategy in order to achieve the goals you’ve set in your social media plan.

What’s important here is to focus your attention on the stats that matter: actionable metrics. Instead of focusing on vanity metrics like the number of followers and fans you’re getting, focus on those metrics that allow you to take action. For example, if you’re looking to get more traffic from social media, look into what traffic each of your links bring: why is one link getting more traffic than another? What can you do to use that knowledge to maximise your traffic from the links you share?

Mistake no. 7: You’re trying too hard

Another thing you’ll notice on social media is when businesses are trying too hard. Meaning, they’re on too many social networks, stretching themselves thin and not getting good results on any of them, because they simply don’t have the time to give each platform the attention it needs.

Instead of creating profiles on multiple social networks, try to focus your attention on one or two platforms where your audience is most active and get those right.

Ultimately, you will get much better results from using one, or a couple of social networks, but doing it well, versus having a presence on all major networks and only dedicating a few minutes a day for each one.

It’s also a good idea to get a social media management tool to help you manage all of your accounts. They’re not just about saving time, but also about helping you make sure you never miss any mentions and to help you become more productive and efficient.

Agorapulse, Sprout Social and Hootsuite are just a few of the best social media management tools that you can use to help you manage your social media more effectively.

Mistake no. 8: Negative mentions? What negative mentions?

The fact that your customers have a direct line to talk with you and about you, means you’re likely to get some negative mentions and comments every once in a while. Not everyone is going to be pleased with you or your business, and that’s fine. What’s not good is if you pretend these types of mentions don’t exist and just turn a blind eye.

Leaving negative comments to fester is going to ultimately damage your reputation. But if you are quick to respond and solve the issue, you might even get some great PR out of it.

As an example, take a look at Delta Hotels and how they dealt with a negative mention on social media. Mike McCready, who attended a conference in Vancouver a few years ago, took to Instagram to share an image of the horrible view he had in his Delta Hotels room:

Delta Hotels, though, took to Twitter to contact him and to ask him if there is any way they can help:

Since Mike was leaving the next day, he didn’t want a new room, so Delta Hotels took it upon themselves to leave a nice note and some sweets in his hotel room, to make up for the bad view:

By doing this, they turned what could potentially be a bad situation for them, into great PR, as Mike wrote about the story in his blog and mentioned how much he appreciated the gesture. Not only that, but it is often used as an example of amazing customer service on social media.

Mistake no. 9: Not everything is about you

As a business who uses social media, you might be tempted to only use your profiles to promote your business in some way. I see this happening all the time and the result of it is, these profiles lose followers faster than they gain them and they get next to no engagement, or at the very least, no meaningful engagement.

Social media is more of an informal platform, where everyone from regular people to Hollywood stars and from small businesses to the biggest brands in the world engage.

It’s not about promoting yourself and talking about yourself all the time (okay, maybe it kind of is in some people’s case), but more about establishing a real, meaningful connecting with your followers.

Rather than just sharing links to your posts, or constantly promoting your products, try to share others’ content as well, share some funny images and GIFs that have little to do with your business and engage with people even if it doesn’t mean you’re getting a sale out of it by the end.

Mistake no. 10: Not monitoring social media

Monitoring social media is very important, and something that many fail to do. There are several different things that you should be monitoring, such as:

  • Your brand name: watch out for any mention of your brand, particularly because there might be some negative ones in there that need your attention. Remember the example from earlier with Mike McCready and Delta Hotels? Well, Mike didn’t use the Delta Hotels handle in his initial Instagram post, but because they were listening, they were able to react quickly and swiftly, and solve an otherwise potentially damaging post.

  • Your competitors: you need to stay on top of what the competition is up to. Especially because you can learn a lot from them, both from their successes and their failures. For example, are they getting more engagement than you? Why is that? Do they have any disgruntled customers? Are they more, or less successful than you, and why is that?

  • Keywords and hashtags: monitor relevant keywords and hashtags and you can stay on top of what people in your niche are talking about, find opportunities for engagement, potential followers and even customers


Suffice it to say, businesses are constantly making mistakes on social media. And that’s to be expected, it’s still a relatively new medium for many of them. The problem is not that you’re making mistakes, but rather that you’re not learning from them – so use these common mistakes to better your strategy and you could be ruling social media in 2017.  

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