Common Social Media Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Social media is a tricky landscape to navigate. With so many users, there’s a number of things to avoid. Let’s take a look at the most common social media mistakes.
Table of Contents
Social media is more tied to people’s daily lives than ever, with over a half of the world population using social media (59%). Brands and businesses dedicate a lot of their marketing budgets to social media. However, social media marketing is not a simple task. There are many ways to make social media mistakes. Let’s learn what are common social media mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.
Social media evolves and changes at a tremendous pace. Sometimes it seems that there’s a fresh trend every week. And with the customers more informed and in touch than ever, it’s important to keep track and stay current.
Traditional ads on social media have long gone the way of the dodo, but that doesn’t mean brands never slip up. Indeed, it’s much more difficult to create great brand marketing on social media nowadays. People want authenticity and corporate social media is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.
Social media marketing mistakes are numerous and different in nature, however we’ll try and cover the most common ones. We will also explain how to avoid social media mistakes for your business accounts.
What are common social media mistakes businesses make?
Marketing has always been a somewhat elusive branch of business. What resonates with one generation of customers may not be interesting to another. Marketing in the digital sphere is even more complicated.
Social media mistakes can be categorized into three broad groups. This isn’t any kind of formal distinction, however, but it can make it easier to keep track.
The first group are the mistakes businesses make with their profiles. In this group we will analyze which are the social media mistakes to avoid when you create your profile.
1. Too many social media platforms
There are dozens of social media platforms. It’s neither possible, nor productive to try and have a profile on all of them. It’s best to pick three or four most relevant ones, like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
These big platforms have tons of features, such as the Instagram Shop, which are fantastic tools for small businesses. Creating content for fewer platforms is not only easier, it also helps you focus your attention on quality.
How to pick the right social media platform for your brand? It’s vital to know where your primary customer base is. For example, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram would probably be the best ones.
On the other hand, if your target audience are younger people, then platforms like Instagram and TikTok are the way to go.
2. Buying followers
The second mistake is a big one. It’s so ubiquitous nowadays, that studies show even some of the biggest influencers like Kylie or Kendall Jenner have had their share of controversy over paid-for followers.
We all like seeing that high follower count, but as in many cases, it’s better to have real, organic growth rather than a bunch of bots.
Bought or ghost followers are easy to spot, and fake followers always sound the alarm bells in customers. It can appear scammy and damage your reputation with your clientele.
These kinds of social media mistakes are not hard to fix. A polished profile shows care and effort on your part. After all, when you get visitors to your home, you want to put your best foot forward. If you don't know how to do it yourself, a reliable social media design service can be your best friend.
Less is more, but if your profile looks neglected people can assume it has been abandoned. Furthermore, if a nondescript, unfinished profile starts interacting with the customer base, it can look like a scam or a bot.
It can also make your business seem unprofessional. Having a low follower count isn’t ideal, but in the end it’s much better both for your image and your reputation. Slower progress might be more difficult, but it’s more sustainable in the long haul.
3. Not customizing your profile
Your profile is your brand’s ID. No matter the amount of your content, a sloppily put together profile can severely damage your brand.
Content is the most important part of running a successful brand profile. Different social media platforms demand different types of content. Social media marketing mistakes are most common in content. Here are some social media mistakes examples.
1. Focusing on quantity over quality
Users are under a constant barrage of content. There are thousands of brands vying for their attention, and it can get exhausting. Profiles that are too active, with dozens of posts per day tend to annoy users.
However, how many posts you should make largely depends on the platform you use. For example, in the case of Instagram the ideal amount of posts is about 1-2 times per day. With more popular and fast paced platforms, like TikTok and Twitter, that number is higher at 1-4 times per day.
But, these numbers aren’t set in stone. If you have a brand event or an active marketing campaign, you’ll naturally post more. The key is pacing. If you make 10 posts in one day, maybe give your audience a bit of space the next day.
2. Sharing only your own content
Social media is all about connecting people. Of course, your content should be prevalent on your profile, but we don’t exist in a vacuum in the digital sphere.
Interacting and sharing other brands’ content is a great way to add variety to your profile. It’s also the best way to achieve cross-promotion and reach a wider audience of users.
Sharing content from other accounts helps your profile show informal interaction and a more approachable image.
3. Skipping captions
Captions are an essential part of a social media post. Photos need to be polished and aesthetically pleasing, and chucking too much text along with the visuals would certainly put a damper on that.
That’s why captions are vital in conveying information. Visuals captivate the users’ attention, but captions are what provide additional information that retains that attention.
For example, one study shows that Instagram posts without captions perform worse, with 34.65% fewer likes, 56.04% fewer comments, and a 22.35% drop in reach!
4. Too much promotional content
Promotional content is a double-edged sword. For example, when Apple did the marketing campaign for iPhone 6 in 2014, they based it on the premise of the phone not bending in people’s back pockets. When the phone was finally rolled out, these claims were quickly disproven and created a lot of trouble for the company.
That’s why it’s important to keep your overtly promotional content unobtrusive. Too much self promotion is one of the most important things to avoid posting on social media and can really grate on audiences and create negative associations to your brand.
According to some marketing experts, promotional material should be about 20% of the total content. The majority of content should be useful, like how to’s or recipes, for example, or informational content such as industry news or inspiring stories from your community.
Another great way to make your profile approachable and relatable is to share the occasional hiccup. Owning your imperfections and mistakes, such as occasional errors in packing will give your brand charm and authenticity.
The example from KFC below shows good humor in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when their iconic slogan became a recipe for disaster. Searching for a new slogan also made for a great ad campaign, which massively drove up engagement.
5. Not using popular features
Right now, short videos are all the rage in social media. Falling behind the trends is one of the biggest social media mistakes to avoid.
Not only that, TikTok has massively increased the popularity of portrait oriented, short-form videos. So, using only landscape oriented photos and videos might not be the right choice.
Also, social media algorithms push newer features more than other types of content. A great example of this is when Instagram introduced reels. In fact, a statistic shows that reels have surpassed Instagram stories in popularity. Reels also have a separate Explore page on Instagram, so it’s obvious the platform is putting a significant focus on this format.
Among these social media mistakes is also not livestreaming. Livestreming is a fantastic way to engage with your customers in a fun, informal way.
Social media, at its core, is about interaction and building a community in the digital world. So, having a great relationship with your customer base is vital in building a strong brand on social media.
1. Ignoring mentions
Users want to engage with their favorite brands. Mentions and @s are incredible for boosting the company on the algorithms.
But, if brands don’t bother replying or engaging with their audience, that engagement will definitely fade in the future.
Small businesses should especially pay attention to interacting with their customers on social media. Not only does it help with growing your audience and retaining existing customers, it’s also great for developing your brand identity.
A great example of this would be Wendy’s, widely considered to be one of the best brands on social media, with their hilarious tweets roasting and teasing other brands, but also their fans.
2. Removing negative comments and mentions
Accepting criticism with grace and professionalism is the most important thing in customer relations. If your audience is negatively responding to something, listen to them. Chances are, they see something you’ve overlooked.
Accept the feedback so you can improve your product or service. In the case of the now infamous Fyre Festival, red flags popped up all over the place when the official Twitter and Instagram accounts stopped responding to questions in comments and in DMs. Furthermore, they started deleting not only negative comments, but also the comments where attendees asked for information or help. Deleting negative and critical comments is unprofessional and shows insecurity.
3. Tone-deaf ads
This is one of the most common mistakes businesses make on social media. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most obvious and damaging ones.
Bad social media ads have many forms, but ones that make jokes in poor taste or disrespectful references towards people appear most often. One example of this is the awful Cinnabon ad after Carrie Fisher’s death, which used the deceased actress’ role in Star Wars to promote their cinnamon rolls.
There are numerous examples of brands taking a joke too far, or not thinking through what they’re putting up on their social media. It might seem tricky to navigate, but a little common sense goes a long way. Not using the deaths of other people to promote your pastry should be a no-brainer, yet it seems that it was lost on them.
So if you want to make a trendy, current post, you should probably stick to memes and other neutral topics.
Building a community on social media takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s one of the most important tools in creating a strong brand with loyal customers.
We hope this list helps you learn how to avoid social media mistakes, but even if you do make them, owning up and learning from them can be beneficial too.
I hold two degrees in history, and am currently working on a project of creating a digital library of Medieval manuscripts. I still like to have a foot in the 21st century though, so I write freelance about my other big passion, art and design. All Lord of the Rings references and puns I make are intentional.