Marketers have been using social media to boost brand awareness, generate leads, and increase conversions for years now.
But to get the most out of what these platforms have to offer, you need to steer clear of a few social media faux pas.
In this article, I’ll dig into some of the worst offenders and why you should avoid these mistakes at all costs.
What We’ll Cover:
- Establishing a presence on a platform if you’re not up for the commitment
- Ignoring analytics
- Using the same content on each network
- Failing to use platform features correctly
- Spending too much time on a platform that doesn’t drive new business
- Not using advertising dollars on your content
- Not building remarketing lists
- Putting too much emphasis on automation
- Not having an editorial calendar
- Not taking advantage of new features
Over the past decade, we’ve seen social evolve from ad-hoc strategy assigned to the company’s resident young person to sophisticated business strategy.
Today, roughly 77% marketers use social media to promote their brand, yet less than half say they’re getting the return on investment they were hoping to get.
Sure, social media is becoming more complex.
With Facebook and Instagram making it harder for brands to rank organically and customers’ omnichannel expectations, it’s easy to blame poor performance on unrealistic expectations and decreased reach.
But while there are undoubtedly new challenges in the mix, a lot of brands aren’t getting results due to basic social media marketing mistakes.
1. Establishing a Presence a Platform if You’re Not Up for the Commitment
Omnichannel marketing is one of the biggest “trends” in the current digital landscape, and as such, many brands are spreading themselves thin to be everywhere at once.
Before you start setting up a thousand different accounts, do your research. Work through the following questions to get a sense of which platforms make the most sense for your brand.
- Which channels are your competitors using? If you’re considering branching out onto additional platforms, look to your competitors to learn which platforms drive the most engagement. Chances are, those channels will be a fit for your brand, too.
- Does the platform make sense for your industry? Not every platform is right for every brand. While fashion and beauty brands thrive on Instagram and TikTok, a B2B logistics company will struggle to fit in with those platforms’ culture.
- Which channels already bring in the most traffic? Check Google Analytics under Acquisition, then Social and Network referrals to see which channels drive the most traffic and conversions.
- Do you have time to post consistently? Rather, do you have time to create high-quality content that makes sense for this platform? For example, YouTube might be a good fit demographically speaking, but if you don’t have the time or resources to do it right, you might want to hold off.
Driving engagement is a common KPI for social media marketing efforts. But, it’s worth pointing out that engagement isn’t a one-way street.
When brands don’t engage with user comments, it gives off the impression that the brand doesn’t care about building relationships with the community.
Every time you respond to a comment, you’re inviting more participation. If you can’t take the time to connect, it’s best to hold off on adding a new platform to your to-do list until you have the time or the extra hands on deck to do it right.
2. Ignoring Analytics
Social media marketing is one of the best ways to spread the word about your brand, grow your audience, and drive conversions. Which means it’s a critical business strategy that demands a deep dive into the data.
Don’t believe me? SproutSocial researchers found that what marketers post doesn’t always square with what customers want to see.
Failing to dig into the metrics means that you could be wasting a ton of money on advertising that isn’t working.
Or, that you miss out on opportunities to offer helpful solutions, entertain your audience, or teach them how to do something.
Content that doesn’t resonate with your audience can alienate them and turn them off of your brand forever.
I’ll give you an example from my own experience. I made the mistake of posting digital marketing news updates on Facebook. This segment did really well on LinkedIn and Instagram but wasn’t quite right for Facebook.
When you monitor your social analytics regularly, you can find these things out early on.
3. Using the Same, Exact Content on Each Network
While I’m a big fan of creating one piece of content and turning it into multiple different formats, it’s important to note that you can’t just upload the same thing everywhere and expect great results.
Knowing the context of each platform is something a lot of marketers don’t always take seriously. If you’re using a single blog post as your starting point, consider how to make your approach to that topic unique to the platform.
If you’re creating a podcast episode, make sure that your audio follows a structure you’d typically find in a podcast. Think interviews, conversations, etc.
For YouTube videos, you might turn your content into a how-to, then chop it into some quick tips to use in an Instagram Story.
What you do on YouTube is different than IGTV, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
For one, audience demographics might vary by channel. Second, each platform has its own set of unspoken rules. Think caption length, tone, and subject matter.
So, even if you’re talking to people that fit the same audience profile, those users still bring different expectations (and intents) to each platform.
This chart from Axios offers a simple breakdown of what kinds of content people expect on each site, though LinkedIn is noticeably absent.
4. Failing to Use Platform Features Correctly
One of the biggest social media mistakes I see all the time is brands trying to use a piece of content that doesn’t quite line up with the user expectations for a specific feature.
To clarify, let’s look at a platform like LinkedIn.
There, you’ll find articles, LinkedIn Live, Groups, the main feed, and direct messaging. All of these things have different use cases and as such, different types of content work best in each of these areas.
With LinkedIn Live, you need to have something relevant to say, and if you have a guest or a big announcement to promote in advance, even better. It doesn’t make sense to hop on randomly and expect your audience to tune in.
If you’re going to create a video for the feed, it needs to be on the shorter side, as you’re trying to catch users as they scroll.
Typically, in-feed videos are only a couple of minutes. Videos between two and six minutes work best, though you do have a ten-minute limit.
If you’re going to post an article on LinkedIn, it needs to be a substantial piece of content. It’s not the place to share a status update or post an excerpt from the original piece to drive traffic.
The point is, users expect different things from each of these LinkedIn features, and failing to pay attention to the rules of engagement shows users that you don’t really “get” the platform.
5. Wasting Too Much Energy on a Platform that Doesn’t Drive New Business
For me, YouTube and LinkedIn have been huge traffic drivers. But Instagram and Facebook, not so much—not great for agency work.
Instagram and Facebook are great for personal branding and talking to people. However, engagement on these channels hasn’t contributed to the growth of my business.
That’s not to say there isn’t any value in posting on those channels, but they aren’t the main focus. Instead, I’ve opted to focus my efforts on blogging and creating content for the platforms that have proven successful.
That said, maybe your goals are different than mine.
For example, if your main focus is reaching new demographic groups or increasing brand awareness, starting conversations, and growing your personal brand may be the things you’d like to focus on. Investing in Facebook and Instagram would be a wise decision in that case.
6. Not Putting Any Advertising Dollars Behind Your Content
Organic reach is on the decline across just about every major platform.
This means that, for better or worse, social media is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play game.
If you have a great piece of content that gets excellent reach, then you want to put some money behind it and continue to scale those dollars.
By using your top-performing content in your ad strategy, you’re starting with an advantage. You already know which groups engaged with your content and can target ads to lookalike and custom intent audiences to amplify your post.
Because your ads are more likely to be relevant, you’ll be able to increase your quality/relevancy scores on Google and Facebook, and may even rise through the SERP rankings by reducing your bounce rate.
7. Not Building Remarketing Lists
If you’re not building remarketing lists, you’re leaving conversion opportunities on the table. According to WordStream research, the more times a user sees an ad, the higher the conversion rate.
One of the most important elements of social media marketing is building out custom remarketing lists that allow you to personalize ads based on different customer segments and their experience with your brand.
Key benefits of remarketing lists include:
- Increase the number of touchpoints in the buyer’s journey. Remarketing ads allow you to increase brand awareness by connecting with customers in a variety of places. This allows you to ensure that your brand sticks in prospects’ minds when the time comes to make a purchasing decision.
- Make ads as relevant as possible. Message match is huge. With tools like Facebook’s lookalike audiences, custom intent audiences, and Google’s audience builder, brands can create lists based on lifetime value, browsing habits, interests, and more.
- Build communities around each profile. Remarketing lists are useful for more than chasing customers around the web with the same ad. You can also use these segmented lists for ongoing advertising to ensure that you stay in front of the right people.
- Upsell to existing customers. Remarketing isn’t just about reaching those groups who didn’t quite complete a purchase. Building lists based on customer lifetime value, email subscribers, or people who haven’t purchased in the past six months is a great way to bring past customers back into the fold. Use this approach to promote seasonal sales, introduce a new product, or present personalized offers.
Keep in mind that when using remarketing lists to reach these different groups, you’ll want to create dedicated landing pages for every ad you run.
Driving traffic to your site from social media platforms needs to be specific to the platform, the content, and the audience on those platforms.
Landing pages should not be reused across different campaigns and platforms.
8. Putting Too Much Emphasis on Automation
Automation offers a ton of promise to organizations across just about every vertical.
Brands should absolutely use automation tools where appropriate, with the understanding that these new-fangled tools don’t always get everything right.
Never, ever, use follow-unfollow bots or purchase followers.
While it’s common knowledge that buying followers is against the rules on all major networks, it can be tempting to spend a few bucks for a thousand followers if you’re not gaining traction.
As it stands, buying followers on Instagram and Facebook violates the platforms’ terms of service and may get you banned from the platform altogether.
Meaning, trying to cut corners may force you to rebuild your entire account from scratch. If you’re going to spend money on growing your following, invest in advertising instead.
Chatbots, on the other hand, can be an effective tool, but only when implemented correctly and supervised by a person well-versed in the nuances of human interaction.
The critical point here is that you need to know when it makes sense to use chatbots and when it’s time to call in a human to finish the job.
You don’t want to make the mistake of mass-replying to all users. Case in point: this now-infamous Bank of America Tweet:
9. Not Having an Editorial Calendar
We all get busy, and often, that means tasks like maintaining your editorial calendar fall by the wayside in favor of more pressing matters.
The thing is, an editorial calendar should be a pressing matter.
Why? Well, there are several reasons, including:
- Consistency. Approaching your social media marketing strategy without an editorial calendar makes it difficult to maintain control over the brand’s voice. These days, marketers face the challenge of creating a consistent voice across multiple touchpoints. As such, brands must spend more time planning posts and tailoring their approach to each channel.
- Organization. An editorial calendar allows you to visualize your content strategy across all relevant platforms. When implemented correctly, your calendar allows you to ensure that you’re sending the right message to the right audience and that you’re posting on a regular schedule.
- Reporting. Additionally, your editorial calendar should serve as a place to work out the kinks in your social media marketing strategy. I recommend looking at your analytics each week to review what went right, what went wrong, and refine it from there.
- Help keep sales and marketing in alignment. While not the most obvious benefit of this practice, keeping an editorial calendar can help marketing and sales teams collaborate more effectively. Organizations with tight alignment between the two teams report 36% higher retention rates and close 67% more deals. Your calendar makes it easier to make sure social content speaks to customer pain points and brings in more qualified leads.
10. Not Taking Advantage of New Features
Whenever a social media site releases a new feature, it’s a good idea to start testing immediately.
For example, YouTube recently came out with the new YouTube Stories. A lot of people were ignoring it, but it turns out that those brands that gave it a try got great reach.
New platforms like TikTok show a lot of promise for brands targeting the Gen Z demographic. At the same time, Pinterest is on the rise, presenting another opportunity for brands to publish visual-driven content.
I know I mentioned up top that brands shouldn’t feel pressured to be on every channel, particularly if it’s not relevant, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore what’s out there.
In the end, there’s no one secret to making your social media strategy a success.
A cross-channel social media strategy involves a complex mix of video, blog posts, paid ads, and different file formats.
This means that even the most prominent brands with a deep bench of marketers face challenges in getting it all right.
The main takeaways I’d like to leave you with is this: make sure that you build a strategy that puts your audience first and aligns with your business objectives.
Additionally, you need to make sure you’re creating content that makes sense for each platform.
The point is, social media marketing is no longer the ad-hoc, cut-and-paste strategy it used to be. Regardless of size, today’s brands need to step up their game if they want to see results.