• flipboard

15 Common Mistakes in Social Media Marketing

As digital media continues to integrate into our lives, business executives, freelancers and professionals from all walks have started to use social media to engage in content marketing.15 Mistakes in Social Media Marketing

And while some of us have more experience than others in the social media game (I had very little when I began exploreB2B), as we accept the need for our participation and the reality that the social landscape is ever-evolving, part of us must come to terms with the fact that often the best way to learn – is simply by doing.

Throughout this learning process, there will be misunderstandings for those just entering the world of social business. Here are some I have encountered along the way, which (most of us) seek to avoid.

As you manage your social business and content marketing presence online, bear these in mind:

1. Content = Product Talk

“Content is king” is one of the first things you are told when starting with web 2.0. Whether starting a blog, using social networks, or wanting to use other means to get noticed in web 2.0 – strong content is your best bet to get shared and receive a positive reaction from your audience. This “content” may relate to information about your company, products or services – the chief mission should be to educate and entertain.

Selling a product description is a marketing technique of the past. Take the time, energy and resources to establish your professional reputation, tell your company story, and engage your audience.

2. Contacts = Business Connections

Contacts, followers and connections in social networks help you spread what you have to say. (There is no denying this.) However, it does not help to collect uninterested and unrelated “friends”, “contacts” or “fans.” These people will not share and spread your content if they are not intrigued by the type of information that is most useful for you to share. You can buy fans and collect contacts – but you cannot purchase a meaningful dialogue or longstanding relationship.

A handful of real connections are worth more than thousands of uninterested “contacts.” Real connections have an investment in your content, will interact, and spread the word. Fake contacts will remain ghosts and do little other than haunt your network.

3. Starting a Blog = Being Heard

This is one of the hardest facts in social media and web 2.0: participating does not mean having an audience. The more people and companies start using a blog and becoming active on social networks, the harder it is to make pages visible. Many people and companies become frustrated when they realize that all their good content does not get the attention the author hoped it would produce.

To get attention to your newly established blog, you have to work very hard – for a long time. You must be active in many more ways than simply publishing on your own blog: you have to comment on others’ blogs, write guests posts on established outlets, build a following within your social networks, connect to industry leaders, and spread your content through as many networks as are relevant to your business.

4. Shouting louder = Getting attention

In many social networks, it can be hard to get attention. If you post a Facebook status update, it will eventually (if not immediately) get lost in the massive flood of updates clogging the stream. The same goes for Twitter and LinkedIn (groups).

The solution to this problem is not to shout louder; in social media could mean repeating the same status update multiple times in a short span or writing in CAPITAL LETTERS. The result will be annoyed friends/followers likely stopping to follow you. Instead, be consistent and persistent with strong material. Keep producing high quality content – people will eventually notice it.

5. Contacts = Newsletter Subscribers

I have been a victim of this. Many times I have accepted contact requests on LinkedIn and instantly been bombarded with newsletters, which I did not register for, nor was asked for permission to be added to the email list. This will not work to achieve audience loyalty or a professional reputation. Here, you end up with unhappy unsubscribers, or flagged as spam.

 6. Paying more = Getting More

There are offers running everywhere: “X Facebook Fans for Y $” or “XXX twitter followers for YYY $.” Do not be fooled. This kind of fan-buying (throwing around money with no intended target audience or focused plan) is a great way to waste time and money.

If you want to spend money on fans, use ads – not faulty agencies with false promises and fake profiles. This way, fans at least are real, targeted people, more likely to become interested in you or your business.

Still, the best way to build a social media following is the natural way: being visible with good content amongst people invested in your knowledge and interests.

 7. Having Connections = Having Conversations

There is a rule in social media that only one percent of participants will create content or start discussions, 9% will response and 90% will do neither. Accept this fact and do not be disappointed if not all your audience converse with you.

It is hard to find the first reader that will start a conversation. Once you found a starting point it will get easier. You can help with being open, always respond and include some discussion points into your content: ask questions, mention controversial viewpoints.

8. Infographics = Social Media Strategy

There has been a rise to infographics production, partly due to the increasing popularity of Pinterest. Infographics are a great way to share relevant information in an organized way, but do not rely on infographics as your sole, social media strategy.

While inforgraphics can be an engaging way to present complex information, especially if you do the job of the inforgraphic well, your audience will eventually crave for more than can be squeezed in your graphic. Do not limit yourself to an Infographic heavy campaign because you have had success one time (or have witnessed the virality if others). As you should be open to more than one outlet to present your content, you should also be open to more than one type of content.

9. Cats = Content

Pictures of cats are the most frequently shared item on Facebook. Reddit has a category “Advice Animals” for exactly this kind of content. Do not be fooled by the cute or witty creature.

You will not successfully brand a company you wish to be taken seriously, or get many relevant business deals, by creating animal images. Throw in one or two, but do not make these animals (prepare pun:) the meat of your campaign.

10. Numbers on Infographics = Real Statistics

With statistics, there are always two sides to the story: (1) was the data recorded and later interpreted or (2) was the data chosen to prove a point? Do you see the difference? If you want to prove a point, you will certainly find some numbers that seemingly say what you are trying to prove. If you conduct an experiment to gain knowledge about your hypothesis, you have to base your insight on those results.

11. Statistics = Facts

As we mathematicians say: statistics are always as good as the one making them up. Whenever you see statistics, ask questions: where is the data, how many samples where taken, how many people asked, who was asked, what characteristics did the asked people have? And so on. Do not blindly believe the interpretations of numbers being shared – and certainly, do not share these statistics if you are not clear on how they were derived or what they mean.

12. Followers = Audience

A social media following is essential for gaining exposure and enlisting a loyal audience. The more followers you have, the more likely it is that someone will listen. But not all your followers are your listeners.

If you already have followers, fans, friends and contacts, ask yourself: do you see and pay attention to the updates of each of your follower’s? The larger your following, the less you will notice each of their posts, and the more important direct contact becomes. On Twitter, sometimes mentioning people will get their attention, but choose carefully. Overdoing it means loosing impact with these people and (most likely) loosing a current or potential follower.

13. Following People = Marketing

True: you will get more attention for your content, the more connections/followers you have. Hard truth: connecting to random people does not get you the kind of attention that helps propel business.

Finding thought leaders from your industry/field of expertise and connecting to them is a good start for building your social media channels; however, online and content marketing involve a much more involved process. Marketing is the careful interaction of different channels, well placed content, connecting and communicating (with the right people) and eventually building relationships to potential customers.

14. Engaging in Social Media = The Masses are Listening to Me

Does a big network with many users automatically mean a large audience? If only it were so simple.

Within the largest social media giants, it is possible to consistently and thoughtfully talk to yourself for ages – remaining in total isolation. The reason?

You must be actively engaged before you see results of your “talking” efforts. In some networks, you can easily find related content and initiate a repertoire with the author or whoever posted the article/photo/video/etc. In other networks, you have to rely on contact and connection with people you already know, to avoid drowning the excess content. Regardless of which network you want to use, you have to connect before you can expect people to listen.

15. Communication = Talking without Listening

Many old-school advertisers are used to promoting slogans. Under these conditions, there was no need or reason to actively listen. Involvement then meant waiting for the numbers from the selling department to determine if the campaign worked out.

In social media, sharing information without listening to the existing conversations of your audience – and partaking in these dialogues yourself – is social suicide. You must listen as much as you talk; you must communicate to connect.

Start listening (and responding) and your social media channels will eventually get you the exposure and ROI you desire.

Social media marketing and content marketing are not quick and easy solutions for business success. Take the time necessary to develop your online reputation and understand that it’s not a one, lane road. Social media engagement is a multi-way highway that requires precision, stamina and awareness.

Remember also, it helps to enjoy the ride.

Guest Author: Susanna Gebauer is one of the founders of the social publishing and content marketing platform exploreB2B. You can find more of Susanna’s content on her profile on exploreB2B. You can also find Susanna on Twitter.

Learn how to market your blog with social media

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” shows you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 170,000.

Read more about it here where you can download and read it .

More Reading

Image from Bigstock

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • These are great. When I saw the title I was dismayed, not another one, didn’t I just read this today, but your content was refreshing, thank you. I LOVED the one about infographics not equality strategy. We finally got to the point where we have convinced agencies and companies that they need strategies and strategists, but they continue to fall back on thinking they know how to do this on their own. 12 steps forward, 11 steps back … but we’re getting there, slowly.

    • There is actually another mistake and that is this “Facebook marketing equals Social media marketing”

      • Thank you for the suggestion – I do agree. As I am no expert on Facebook Marketing I did not dare to include anything in that direction.

  • #4 is a common one I see, especially on Twitter. Great article Jeff.

  • BigBang Marketer

    i have learnt the art of being a social pro

  • R. Linden

    I agree with #15, be interactive. Let your followers know that you are engaged and listening to them as well.

    – mynextgig.com

  • questions to friends

    Good post! when you hace a doub you can question to friends…

  • LOL, seems like a lot of shiny object going on here.

  • Great read. On your point number seven, I just made available this stats on my recent post ://bit.ly/Tjj4EZ

  • Christine Brady

    Hi Susanna,

    These are excellent mistakes 😉

    Engagement and building relationships sound like the underlying ways to avoid these mistakes!

    I notice when I have not been socially active for even one day, it shows. I have to get back into the swing and join in where I left off.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Michal Smetana

    I could not
    agree more with you in the points 11 and 14, especially point 11. “Statistics
    are always as good as the one making them up”. This is absolutely true, because
    one can use statistics to prove his hypothesis, and one can use another
    statistics to prove the other one’s hypothesis wrong.

    In addition
    to the point 14, having a Facebook Page does not mean that you have
    automatically large audience. You have
    to continuously track your progress in social media, analyze your published
    content to increase engagement rates, identify key influencers and even spy on
    your competition. I struggled doing this on my own. However, my friend has
    recommended me an online tool by Socialbakers called Analytics (http://analytics.socialbakers.com/).
    It is really a great tool for tracking your performance not only on Facebook
    but also on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. Thus, if you are trying to
    engage in more than one social network, you are able to analyze your progress
    from one place. It really helped me.

    • Thanks Michael for pointing out social bakers. I am sure other people will want to try that tool out.

  • Just thought you should know that whenever i use your Pin it button, for Pinterest it shows up on that site with no picture, but if I use the one in my toolbar it’s pins correctly. You may want to take a look at it. Just trying to help you share your AWESOME content.

  • Samantha

    Great post! I think a great way to sum up this article would be to say that engagement is key. Buying fake fans and mindlessly posting without listening or sharing content that your audience is interested in won’t see results. Interaction, even if it’s just a click and not a comment, is the heart of social media. We as marketers need to remember that and post accordingly.

  • Great discussion! One thought to add would be to look deeper into the social domaiin where people are researching your products (reviews, forums etc.) And ‘be there’ when they are making purchase decisions.

  • yes, content always comes first to talk !

  • Jeff,
    I loved every word of this post. There is nothing new here but these things have to be said again and again to remember what social media is all about.
    I am sending this to upper management.
    Have an awesome day!

  • Jeff,
    I loved every word of this post. There is nothing new here but these things have to be said again and again to remember what social media is all about.
    I am sending this to upper management.
    Have an awesome day!

  • Love the last tip, seem so important that everyone should fix. If someone is speaking you should definitely listen instead of jump right in even though you just pop out a great idea on your mind.

  • rjccoelho

    An old post but very helpful for a beginner like me. 2 years passed and i am wondering if there is any other mistake we should avoid. I am very pleased to take some of my time to invest in marketing. Thanks for sharing @jeffbullas

  • Elmerinda Hatsumoto

    So, by this article you mean simply this “no other way except paying to infolinks for like/followers/views is a working method”. Be realistic and stop claiming to be over-smart!.

    The basic of success in internet is write quality content always, don’t steal, if you get referred give credits, attach social media following widgets on your website, engage visitors to comment and spread your posts on social profiles.

    Infolinks just boost your traffic to ordinary people, it gets more views but doesn’t improves quality of website or neither improves SEO.

    There’s no key for success, work harder, be the best worker in the room and you’ll meet success. Albert Einstein’s formula for success was this Hard work + Luck + Ability to keep mouth shut.