8 Social Media Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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By 2021, there will be more than 3 billion social media users worldwide. This statistic, along with many others, point to the importance of social media marketing for your business.

However, there are a lot of social media marketing mistakes that not only impede success, but they can tarnish your brand when extreme. The following is an in-depth exploration of eight of the most common mistakes companies make on social media, along with strategies, tips and insights to help you avoid making them!

1.Having No Plan
2.Being Overly Promotional
3.Not Posting Enough
4.Using Too Many Channels
5.Never Engaging Your Audience
6.Providing Nothing of Value
7.Posting the Same Content Everywhere
8.Having No Visualization

Having No Plan

Realizing the need to jump aboard the fast-moving social media train, a lot of companies dive into posting without a clear vision. Social media doesn’t exist in isolation from your company’s marketing plan. Therefore, as you plan out your marketing mix and strategies for your broader marketing function, consider how this translates on social media.

It is also important to have a social media plan that explores how your creative strategies and content messages align with the capabilities of each social media platform and its audience. As opposed to a fragment channel with inconsistent messages, your social media campaigns on each platform should build a cohesive story about your brand.

A good plan helps you avoid some of the major faux pas (like the one committed below by DiGiorno in 2014) that can result when brands have inexperienced, untrained and emotional reps that attempt to post spontaneously as well.

Being Overly Promotional

Don’t use your social media channels just to directly promote your brand and products. This approach does not attract and keep followers, drive engagement and create loyal fans. In one of his top quotes on social media, Jay Baer said, “Social media was not intended to be the world’s shortest press release.”

People don’t follow you to get bombarded with promotional messages and offers. You can mix these in on occasion, but only to the extent the offers add value for your audience. You probably know people don’t like to answer telemarketer calls and they often throw out junk mail. The same logic applies in digital communication. Simply put, they don’t want to follow junk posters on social media.

Use your social media tools to make connections, build a following by offering useful and relevant content, and leverage engagement that moves interested prospects toward your website.

Not Posting Enough

In some cases, companies don’t post enough. This approach is a problem for several reasons. First, the “out of sight, out of mind” adage applies in the fast-paced world of social media. You need to post regularly to keep your brand and message in front of people. Remember also that follow recommendations on most channels and through third-party tools are driven by analytics. Inactive or less active accounts don’t get recommended as much.

Consistent posting makes your brand appear more viable and involved on a particular channel as well. It also gives you the ability to reach more types of users with appealing messages.

You can go overboard with posting in a way that creates annoyance and causes people to become desensitized to your posts. The optimal posting frequency varies by platform. The following infographic from Louise Myers offer a great breakdown on high, low and suggested frequencies on popular channels.

How Often To Post On Social Media

Using Too Many Channels

Spreading yourself too thin is a common reason that companies end up not posting enough on particular channels. Large corporations may have the resources to manage many accounts internally or through an agency. However, smaller companies more often have to be selective in picking just they tools they can effectively manage.

As you ponder your best social media options, begin with an evaluation of the accessible audience. Pew Research offers a lot of great data to help you assess the size and traits of users across the most prominent platforms.

In addition to the user base, consider the features available on each channel and how they align with your internal production capabilities. There is no exact answer as to how many channels are the right amount, but start small (one to three), and expand as you determine your ability to manage more opportunities. A social media management software program like HootSuite can help you do more through efficiency by monitoring and posting on multiple accounts via one screen.

Never Engaging Your Audience

If you are overly promotional on social media, you are not engaging your audience. Lack of engagement leads to disinterest, lost followers and limited marketing value. The Rule-of-Thirds in social media suggests that you include engagement, along with shares of your content and third-party shares, in your plan.

Engagement means a direct, personal interaction with other users. The following are some examples of how you can engage your audience on social media:

  • Mentions: “Reply” to the posts or comments of other users with a relevant thought, answer or feedback. Effective mentions can start conversations.
  • Comments: Add a comment on other user posts that reinforce the value of the image or content shared.
  • Chats/Conversations: “Twitter Chats” and similar formats on other channels allow you to engage in digital conversations with people on predetermined topics and concepts.
  • Like/Favorite: People like validation, and you liking their work on social media is validation. Consistently liking quality posts is a way to generate new followers.

Without engagement, people lose interest in following your account. They don’t see your brand as authentic, and they get tired of the echo chamber when they attempt to interact with you.

Top B2C Content Priorities

Providing Nothing of Value

There is no point to any type of marketing, including social media, if you don’t aim to provide value to your target markets. As demonstrated through some of the other top social media marketing mistakes already noted, it is critical that you provide value to your audience. People follow social media accounts for the same reasons they follow leaders in life; they find value, useful and relevance from your message.

To consistently deliver the value that people need, want and expect, develop a deep perspective on your target market. Consider the questions and concerns they have and the types of content they would find beneficial when connecting with your brand. Build your strong social media plan to map out long-term distribution of great content shares and engaging posts.

Posting the Same Content Everywhere

Some companies post the same content all the time on every platform. Lack of resources, time or effort cause this approach. It is okay to execute a multi-channel campaign or message at times on social media. In fact, your platforms should all include message posts that contribute toward the overall story you want to tell about your brand on social channels and other media. However, it is generally best to provide some exclusive content to people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and other channels you utilize.

The following are key reasons to post some unique content across each of your channels:

  • It gives people a reason to follow you on multiple accounts
  • People pay attention and become less desensitized by the redundancy
  • Different channels and messages influence users in different ways
  • Each channel has distinct features and capabilities that you want to leverage
  • Users expect to see different content on each platform

Having No Visualization

Social media users want and expect colorful, quality images, infographics, videos and other visual content. Unfortunately, companies that lack resources don’t take pictures, shoot quality videos or create impactful imagery to strengthen their content. If you are going to take the time to create a plan and post on social media, take the time to achieve optimized results by incorporating visual elements.

A recent Social Media Examiner Industry Report revealed that 74 percent of marketers used some type of visual assets in their social media marketing. Sixty percent use videos, a number that is expected to continue to climb as consumers hunger for video content. Live-streaming video, via such tools as Facebook Live and Periscope, is now used by the majority of marketers as well.

Header background and profile images are important to effective visualization as well. Nothing screams “Unprofessional!” or “No credibility!” like generic egg avatar on Twitter and similar pics on other channels. Use your headers to establish the professional, credible brand image you want to project.


These are some of the most common and pervasive social media marketing mistakes that companies make. Small businesses are especially prone to these mistakes because they lack the people, resources, money and time to optimize results.

Don’t avoid social media marketing because of these obstacles! Instead, realize that a little time and investment in upfront planning leads to more efficient and effective execution. Access to a large user base and high-tech tools offer too much potential to throw up your hands and assume you cannot succeed. Instead, following the strategies, tips and insights provided to get the most out of your efforts!

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About the Author: Neil Kokemuller

Neil Kokemuller is a veteran college marketing professor with an MBA. He has also been a freelance business and marketing content writer and website creator since 2008.

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