We all know that marketing your business or personal brand on social media is an inexact science. You're never going to get things "perfect," as there will probably always be someone who disagrees with what you had to say or how you said it.

Like life, it's not about reaching a destination, but rather enjoying the journey and trying to learn and grow alone the way. 

So in the spirit of this inexact science, let's take a look at some of the more notable failures in the world of social media advertising and marketing in 2015.

Use YOUR products, not the competitor's.

On January 13 of this year, BlackBerry tweeted a picture to promote their company--using an iPhone. It appears that whoever posted the tweet didn't realize that the "via Twitter for iPhone" would show up at the bottom. If you do not even use your product, why should the rest of America?

Hashtag Flops

Many brands have picked up on the idea that jumping on the hashtag brigade can bring attention and even new business. Be careful on your execution though. You don't want the wrong kind of attention.

After one of the team's postseason victories last season, the Seattle Seahawks tweeted a picture of quarterback Russell Wilson in tears with the hashtag #MLKDay and the quote, "We shall overcome." This understandably offended many people who didn't like the tweet's attempt at equating the game of football with the real life and death struggles of King and other figures who sought racial equality in America.  

In another attempt to hop on a trending hashtag, DiGiorno posted a tweet saying, "#WhyIStayed You had pizza." without realizing that the hashtag had been used extensively as a reference to the Ray Rice debacle and abused women in general. Of course, minutes later they tweeted an apology for not understanding the hashtag before posting. By then, however, the damage was done.

Positive Press Backfires

This is the one I call the "Bill Cosby rule." Be careful of running self-serving social campaigns that only really celebrate yourself and don't provide value to anyone else. The Internet trolls will see you from a mile away and try to take you down.

The New York Police Department fell victim to this when they decided to try and force some free positive press this year by asking city residents to post pictures with the hashtag "#myNYPD." They wanted to paint a more positive light on the police force after the recent negativity surrounding it. Not too surprisingly, this backfired with people posting pictures of police brutality instead. Hey, in the end, at least they did the public a service.

Sea World also tried to nab some free press this year too by encouraging people to "#AskSeaWorld" after a really well-respected documentary came out in 2013 exposing how SeaWorld's treatment of its whales may have resulted in the death of a trainer. The company attempted to use this tactic as a way to regain trust from people, but it backfired. The campaign turned into a medium for tweets asking how many of the trainers or whales would die while the questions were being asked.

Social Media Managers Gone Rogue

Earlier this year, HMV, the British entertainment company laid off 60 of its employees, many of which had the password to the company's Twitter account. Before they were able to change said password, the laid off employees took over the company Twitter, complaining that the firings were unfair to the loyal and loving workers.

Simple Strategies for Social Media Success

Those are just some of the more memorable social media "fails" of 2015. If you look at some of the underlying problems with the campaigns mentioned above, you start to see patterns. One of them is that these companies relied on gimmicks.

Instead of trying an unproven technique you saw somebody else have success with, develop your own strategies based on techniques proven to build engagement. There are quite a few proven strategies that saw more use this year and could help you in 2016. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Graphic design

Put some money into a graphic designer. Consumers love info-graphics in blog posts and smaller graphics in social media posts. They impart information quickly and effectively, and drive up retweets as well other forms of engagement.

2. Variety

Building your social presence as well as trying ads on multiple social media platforms will give your company the ability to reach different audiences. This will allow you to captivate different sets of consumers effectively while avoiding ad fatigue. It also allows you to determine which ads are the most effective for your audience.

3. In the news

Use current events to promote your business. People are already interested in what is happening in the news, so find ways to relate that to your company. Of course, avoid using connections that might seem insensitive or in poor taste (ahem, Seahawks).

4. The Power of Humor

Use humor to get people interested in your Twitter and Facebook accounts. You don't have to make every single post about your business directly. Lighten up, avoid always being serious, and think of fun, fresh ways to keep people from hitting that unfollow button.

5. Stay Relevant

Social media is about being short and sweet. Find short but incredibly relevant information about your business to put out there for consumers to read. They should be able to understand the purpose of your company by reading just a few of your posts.

6. Leave it to the Professionals

The best way to guarantee success in your social media presence is to consider hiring a professional. You'll avoid failures and flops by paying someone with the appropriate training to manage your social media accounts.

Published on: Dec 10, 2015