Social media can be challenging. With so many platforms to keep up with -- from Facebook to Instagram, to Pinterest and beyond -- and ever-changing algorithms and ad targeting capabilities, it can be tough to feel like you've got a handle on things, and easy to feel like you're making mistakes.
With Social Media Marketing World 2018 coming up, I spoke to some of my fellow speakers to gather their advice on common social media marketing mistakes that entrepreneurs and business owners should avoid.
Over-Automation // Not Being Human
"A common mistake that social media marketers take is in their content broadcasting especially on platforms like Twitter and Facebook where you can easily schedule out content in advance or put it into a continuous rotation. This phone-it-in tactic seems like it frees up time and bandwidth by batching social media distribution but it actually puts a wall further between the marketer and the potential customers in their audience. BE SOCIAL for crying out loud. " --Amanda Bond, Owner of The Ad Strategist
"One BIG mistake that I see companies make on Social Media is think that you can stick social media on autopilot and somehow it will generate revenue. Business is done between people and you need to show up in a human way. Building ongoing relationships is crucial for every company. While there is a place for scheduling, you also need to learn to listen and to have conversations on social media." -- Nicky Kriel, International Social Media Trainer, Speaker, Consultant, and Author
"The biggest and most common mistake that social media marketers make is speaking in terms common to professionals but not the end user of the product. Avoid using jargon or references that only your colleagues would understand. Instead, use the terms of your primary customers and use them the way your customers would use them." -- Owen Video, The VideoSpot
"Too many brands try to sell what they are selling, rather than using social to create relationships, offer value and generates leads." -- Nicholas Kusmich, Founder & Director of the H2H Media Group and Author of "GIVE"
"Marketers focus on flashy content or the newest social channel and forget to focus on building a meaningful customer experience." -- Megan Conley, CEO + Founder, Social Tribe
Forgetting The Basics
"I think a lot of traditional marketers treat social media as something that's new, flashy and always changing, and they treat it as such. The best thing you can do with social media (across most platforms) is to concentrate on the basics. If you get audience, message, creative and timing right, you'll be doing better than most." -- Cassie Roma, Content Marketing & Social Media Expert
"10 years of hashtags and they're still the most misunderstood aspect of social. The main purpose of a hashtag is to get into larger conversations with people who aren't your followers. Lots of businesses think they need to "brand" a hashtag. For example, if you want to talk to the audience talking about #SXSW, but you use hashtag #YOURBRANDSXSW, you've just ensured that you're only having a conversation with yourself. All you need to "brand" a hashtag is to put your company's name in the same post with that hashtag. Also -- for the love of all that is holy -- please use capitalization to make your hashtags easier to read and understand. The infamous example of Susan Boyle's album launch hashtag of #susanalbumparty is the perfect example where caps are your friend. (Go ahead and read that one again.)" -- Carmen Shirley Collins, Social Media Lead, Talent Brand, Cisco
"Don't use hashtags on platforms that don't use hashtags. It looks automated." --Bryan Kramer, CEO of H2H Companies & PureMatter
Putting Social In A Silo
"Too many social media marketers focus all their efforts on building their following solely on social platforms. This is a mistake. You don't own these social platforms. Instead, focus on using those platforms to build something you own and control - your blog and email list. Social media is tremendously valuable, but be smart: Build YOUR business, not Mark Zuckerberg's." -- Leslie Samuel, Owner of Becoming A Blogger
"Social alone does not work. You need a website. Social media can help brands that do not have a website, however, social media is not meant to serve as your website. You do not own your social media channels; you're on rented land and are at the mercy of the network. Sales happen on your home base." -- Jessika Phillips, Owner of NOW Marketing Group
"Thinking that social media is the answer. It is simply a popular channel to connect with your audience. It plays a role in your customer acquisition and retention, but it doesn't stand on its own." -- Rich Brooks, Founder, Agents of Change
Not Having A Crisis or Customer Service Plan
"Common mistake is to only have a crisis management plan for after the fact and not a plan to build resilience in to your brand - to better withstand a crisis." --Fi Birch, Founder and Chief Digital Strategist, Pro Athlete Online
"Thinking that customer service is someone else's problem. Social media marketers need to know that the more they spend on marketing, the more inquiries their Customer Service team will need to handle. Why? Because when brands interrupt people's social feeds with marketing, they also inadvertently remind people of unresolved issues that they have with the company. Although we all wish that every comment on our marketing posts would be about our clever marketing, in reality our posts draw many customer service inquiries. Marketers can't just focus on "community management" and brand-love posts; they must also work with their Customer Service counterparts to create a memorable all-around experience for every customer and prospect." -- Dan Gingiss, Author of "Winning at Social Customer Care"
"Trying to be too perfect or being frozen by 'I'm not ready.' Having that quest for perfection will squeeze any humanity out of your presentation." --David H. Lawrence XVII, Actor and creator of Camera Ready U
"Choosing to NOT try something because of fear of failure. No one likes others to see them fail, and this can often lead to avoiding decisions or not experimenting enough to have real takeaways. Instead of fearing the perception of your failures, own them. Make choices quickly and try and test them all. Not only will you learn from your journey, but others will, too. Bringing people along with you while you test out different things will help you create a real connection to them." -- Chloe DiVita, Founder of Perceptive Presence
Forgetting To Listen
"Failure to listen is where I see many falling short on social media. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason! How about this: for every update you are about to post, read and engage with at least three updates from others. Become an engager and contributor first, and your updates won't fall on deaf ears." -- Ana Hoffman, Founder and Chief Wordsmith, TrafficGenerationCafe.com
"Not using feedback and engagement as a way to create new content. If users give you ideas, use those ideas in your next video, post, image, whatever. Even better - collaborate with your audience and them add to your story." --Kathy Klotz-Guest, Author of "Stop Boring Me! How to Create Kick-Ass Marketing Content, Products and Ideas Through the Power of Improv"
Ignoring The Data
"Many people focus on gaining fans and followers too much instead of using the great target audience possibilities Facebook offers you in their ads product. You need to install a Facebool pixel on your website and create custom audiences based on the user behavior (like purchased a product, add to cart, watched at least 50% of a video, etc.). If you gathered enough data you can create super-targeted look-a-like audiences to reach out to new people." -- Alex Khan, Germany's most followed Social Media Coach
"Take the time to analyze each post to see if it was a success. If so, ask what was done to make it so popular and engaging. If it was a failure (by your own KPI standards) ask yourself why and learn from those mistakes... All feedback is just data. Analyze the feedback that your audience is giving you and use it to constantly improve what you put out into the world." --Amanda Bond, Owner of The Ad Strategist
"Test everything! Never assume there is only 1 way to reach success. Constantly try new things, and be willing to test tactics. My favorite thing is when I prove myself wrong." -- Azriel Ratz, CEO, Ratz Pack Media
Focusing On The Wrong Metrics
"When measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for your social media marketing, many marketers fall into the trap of vanity metrics. Companies think that measuring the number of fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter is 'ROI,' and if these numbers are growing, they are happy. But at the end of the day, if those people aren't engaging with your messages or buying your products/services, what's the point? Instead of getting caught up on the number, concentrate your efforts on targeting followers who care about your marketing messages and sales promos. One way to obtain the right kind of followers is to set up a Facebook Pixel on your website. You can use this to run ads of your content, products/services, sales or coupons to people who have visited your site. And trust us, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars; even a dollar a day can fetch results!" -- Brooke B. Sellas, Founder & CEO, B Squared Media
Not Using The Full Power of Platforms
"The most common mistake is using social media as an inbound tool instead of outbound. You share content in the hope that people will click on links and visit your website. The reality is that to get a high level of reach with social media you need to pay for ads. And when you attract an audience most of them are not relevant to your business. But social media is an amazing tool for finding the most relevant customers/partners for your business. For example, use LinkedIn to identify potential customers and reach out to them with a 'value first' approach. Why wait for people to find you when you can find them." --Ian Cleary, Founder of RazorSocial, Co-Founder of OutreachPlus
"One of the biggest Facebook Ad mistakes I see people making is only using the Boost Post to run ads. Your Facebook ad can be optimized much better through the Ads interface. You can create specialized audiences, optimize around conversions, and have better ad placements." -- Andrea Vahl, Co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies
"For Pinterest, people expect it to be a social network and so they treat it like one. It's not. Understanding that it is a search and discovery network that people use for inspiration and very early awareness is key - as is knowing that it's a long game. It takes months to see results, but typically those snowball and they last forever." -- Alisa Meredith, Content Marketing Manager, Tailwind.
"Ranting about how other social media professionals use social media. Focus on your community and what you can be doing to engage them." -- Carlos Gil, CEO/Founder, Gil Media Co.
Trying To Do It All
"Trying to do too much all at once. Do less better." -- Lou Mongello, Host/Producer of WDWRadio.com