7 Common Social Media Mistakes All Brands Should Avoid
Social media marketing is a huge potential asset to businesses, nonprofits, and organizations of all kinds. You can reach new users, build up loyal and engaged followings, and continually connect and interact with your target audience without technically needing to pay a dime. It’s free, there’s not really a learning curve involved, and it’s easy to get started whenever you’re ready.
As someone who has worked as a social media practitioner for years, it always legitimately makes me sad when I see that most brands struggle to get the results they should be getting because they’re not leveraging the platforms correctly. This happens much more often than you’d think, even from brands that have really loyal audiences who would love to see strong social profiles to interact with.
While there are a few brands who really step outside the box and find unique ways to derail their social media marketing (like insulting customers or failing to reliably proofread), most are making the same common, seemingly-innocent mistakes over and over again. And though a small mistake like failing to optimize your content isn’t nearly as inflammatory as a brand posting something overtly political or insensitive, it can actually impact you long-term almost as much.
So what are these pitfalls to avoid? In this post, we’re going to take a look at the 7 devastating-but-common social media mistakes that we see happening over and over again, and how you can avoid them.
1. Not Using Original Visuals
While there’s always a time and place to share existing content on your Page on social, it’s a huge mistake when brands rely on this entirely and neglect to create their own original images and videos.
Images are important on social. Some platforms or features like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Stories actually require an image or video to even create a post at all, and even those that don’t see major increases in engagement from the addition of a picture.
Creating original visuals gives you new content to share, contributing to the online social world instead of simply recycling what’s already there. This can increase the likelihood that other people share them, but it also allows you to create stronger, branded, and more-relevant images that your audience will respond to.
The Bar Method, for example, uses simple graphics that they create themselves to connect with their audience and drive engagement. They ask their followers about the highlight of this month, and what they want to see in the next month.
Images like this are easy to create with tools like Snappa, and don’t require expensive photography. You can choose a simple background (which can include any of our stock photos from our extensive library), and then add text, your logo, and other design elements and graphics as you see fit.
Even if you’re simply customizing a high-quality stock photo, it helps to customize images to personalize them for your brand and audience.
2. You Only Use One Type of Image
This is another mistake that we see happening over and over again. I’ve worked with so many clients who only want to share professionally-photographed product pictures on their social media, but this is an enormous wasted opportunity.
Your audience likes to see diverse content. It keeps things interesting, which keeps their attention. Otherwise, they can get bored as all of the images start to blend together and things get a little too predictable.
Sticking to only one or two types of visuals will also hurt you; each individual type of graphic you can share has its own distinct benefits, and neglecting to keep things diverse will prevent you from taking advantage of them. We wrote an article that outlines 8 types of social media marketing images to give you some ideas for content to post, check it out!
Product pictures, for example, are great for product awareness and helping to promote sales. Sharing UGC posts are even more effective at building brand trust and driving sales, however, and how-to content is inherently valuable and most likely to be saved or shared. Quotes (which can easily be created by overlaying text on the background of your choice with Snappa) can drive engagement, and behind-the-scenes content can help promote rapport and familiarity.
If someone is scrolling through your pictures on social media, you want those pictures to tell a well-rounded story of who you are as a business and what you value.
3. Neglecting to Optimize Your Posts for Each Individual Platform
The types of content you share on Instagram Stories will hopefully be very different from what you’re posting (and how you’re posting it) on LinkedIn. On Instagram, for example, you can be more casual and focused on the consumer, while LinkedIn is much more professional (though still approachable) and will likely focus more on the business itself.
Users on LinkedIn are also typically more willing to read longer posts and click to valuable resources, where Instagram users may be more likely to scroll through their feeds quickly.
Each platform has its own unique quirks, best practices, and user behaviors that you need to understand. For best success with social media marketing, you need to be optimizing your content for each platform, even if you’re posting the same general ideas to each one. This means adjusting text length, the style of writing, the focus of the content, and of course the images, too.
Keep in mind that ideal image sizes can vary greatly from platform to platform, so make sure that you’re double-checking those requirements before posting. If you don’t want to keep up with all the size requirements, remember that Snappa has an enormous library of templates available for each type of social media image you need that are fully customizable and pre-sized.
4. Not Understanding How the Algorithms Work
Most platforms don’t follow a strict “whatever content that you follow that’s most recent will be at the top of your feed” order. Instead, they’re using algorithms to decide what content each individual user is most likely to want to see and engage with, and those posts show up at the top of your feed. This is one of the bigger social media mistakes, because if you don’t understand the algorithms, you can’t optimize for them.
We don’t know the exact formulas for each individual algorithm, but most take the following factors into account:
- How often your audience responds to your content on average; users who interact most are more likely to see content from you moving forward.
- Current engagement on a post. Content that gets a ton of likes early on is perceived as high-engaging, and typically gets a bump in the algorithm.
- How recent the post was. This isn’t the only factor that matters, but it does impact performance, so stay up-to-date with peak posting times.
- Relevance. If users regularly interact with instructional cooking videos on one platform, that platform is more likely to prioritize similar content in their feed.
- Timeliness. This is different from recency because we’re looking specifically at factors like real-time, live broadcasting. Live broadcasts are often prioritized in visibility on the platforms offering them.
Learn about each individual platform that you’re using and how their algorithm works. On Facebook, for example, starting a branded group is the way to go, as group content is prioritized in the algorithm and loved by group members.
You can get a rough overview of how different algorithms work based on platform here:
5. Having an Incomplete Profile
It absolutely guts me when I see a great brand struggling on social media because their profiles aren’t fully filled out, or aren’t optimized. As far as social media mistakes go, this is a pretty common one, but it’s also an easy fix.
Too many don’t have phone numbers, header images, links to their site, brand descriptions, or connections to other social profiles. It’s almost baffling sometimes how little information some brands keep on their profiles.
Take advantage of every opportunity to share more information about your brand, sprinkling in keywords that you think your audience might use to find brands like yours.
Share your contact information, brand missions, USP, operational hours, and any relevant information you think your audience might need. You can include a branded hashtag, for example, or a CTA for people to share their experience with your brand. It’s important to invest into your social media branding from the start.
6. Failing to Engage with Your Audience Regularly
Social media marketing is meant to be social. That’s what makes it so powerful and so effective. Think of it more as a relationship-building tool than a direct sales platform for at least 80% of the time.
You want to stay on time of engagement on every platform you’re on. That means watching for comments, questions, and messages on public and private posts on every single individual platform. Respond as promptly as you can, ideally in five hours or less but always within 24 hours, and as thoroughly as possible. If needed, let users know where they can go to find more information or have an issue resolved by your customer support team.
Community management is probably the most difficult part of social media marketing as your followings grow, just because it’s a lot to keep up with and requires pretty constant work. Social media management tools can help, by allowing you to manage all your platforms from one dashboard. You’ll be alerted to every message so you can respond quickly without having a million tabs open.
Remember that if questions and comments go unanswered, it will look like your customer service isn’t where it should be, and you could lose sales because customer questions go unanswered. Don’t let this happen to you!
7. Not Creating a Content Schedule in Advance
Your social media marketing should be strategic and intentional. We covered this in the first section of this article. Setting up a carefully-created content schedule for your content marketing in advance can help keep you on track with your strategy.
It’s difficult to come up with great content day after day, so a tried-and-true trick is to sit down a few days before the beginning of the month and map out a rough schedule.
Start with what you know you need to prioritize. You may have an in-store event coming up in three weeks, and want to share two posts per week on each platform to encourage attendance and get people excited. Drop those into the calendar first. Then you’ll want to make it a point to share UGC at least once a week, and link to resources like blog posts or lead magnets once a week.
Even with the majority of your content schedule filled out in advance, there’s still room to change things around if needed and to add in timely, relevant content if anything pops up. This is meant to be a resource instead of an inflexible mandate.
Social media marketing is relatively straight-forward, once you’ve got a strategy in place and know which common mistakes to avoid. These 7 social media marketing mistakes can seriously impact your campaigns if you make them, potentially turning away customers and even costing you business.
Remember that your social media profiles may be one of the first touchpoints and experiences customers have with your business, so you need to make sure that you’re creating a powerful first impression.
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