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The Top Five Social Media Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

The top 5 social media marketing mistakes and how to fix them

Social media marketing is still the hot topic in town.

But even large businesses with expert marketers on the job make rookie mistakes when it comes to social media. Here are the top five social media marketing mistakes that you need to watch out for.

#1. Using the wrong metrics

When people are forced to deal with a subject that they don’t understand, they often try to gain some sense of control by applying the same rules to it that they’ve seen to work in their area of expertise. This kind of simplistic thinking can be the rot of many mistakes.

Many conventional marketers make this sort of mistake when they try to measure the success of their social media marketing efforts. They use the number of fans or followers that their efforts have gained for the company as the primary yardstick by which to measure their success. They tell themselves that if viewership numbers matter in the television business and circulation numbers matter in newspapers, follower numbers should matter in social media.

In truth, though, it doesn’t matter how large a social footprint you have. You could have thousands of Facebook fans without it making a difference to your business. In social media, what matters is how much people feel compelled to talk about your business by tweeting about it, bringing your business up on Facebook and sharing your videos among their friends. Businesses that truly understand social media marketing use metrics that make sense for social media. They measure brand sentiment, the number of times their customers share their experience with the company’s customer service department and so on.

#2. Setting up too many social network accounts

At one point, IBM discovered that hundreds of their managers had an IBM-branded Twitter presence, each one with his own handle. People who wished to follow IBM on Twitter had no idea which one of these was the real IBM. Top management had to intervene and shut down all but a few accounts.

Managing one social media business account properly can be a huge responsibility by itself. Even large companies often have trouble adequately staffing and running a lone Facebook account. Many small businesses, though, make the mistake of jumping headfirst into every social media platform, major and minor – Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Ning, Tumblr and FourSquare, among others. They only think of how they are stretched too thin after they’ve set up pages everywhere and got a handful of fans. They are then forced to abandon many networks and lose face. The lesson to learn here is that no small business has the resources to run more than one or two social networking accounts.

#3. Making your social presence all about you

Just as no one likes to be around a person who just likes to talk about himself, no one likes hanging around the Facebook page of a brand that can’t get enough of itself.

Brands that have no idea how social networking works jump in thinking that it’s a traditional advertising platform. All they ever give their followers are advertisements and unimpressive discounts to buy stuff with. While it isn’t wrong to get in a little advertising, it won’t do to plan your Facebook content around advertising. Even conventional TV advertising doesn’t work without offering humor, good music and visuals and an interesting plot. If you are going to get your business on a social network, you should concentrate on finding out what kind of content your customer base is interested in and invest in high quality content creation to meet the need.

If nothing else, you should try to make your Facebook presence customer-centric by promptly responding to every comment.

#4. No communication

Businesses run efficiently through division of labor. They create separate departments with specialized knowledge of HR, customer service, marketing and so on. Creating a separate, self-contained department for social networking, though, doesn’t work. Every business needs to involve multiple departments in its social media marketing effort.

The marketing, PR and customer service departments need to be in the loop.

#5. You don’t have a plan

In many companies, the decision to jump on the social bandwagon is an emotional one, not one that’s the result of thinking and planning. This results in a social presence that is always run on improvisation and seat-of-the-pants creativity. An unplanned approach can result in lost opportunities. For instance, if your business doesn’t have an editorial calendar for your social media presence, you may simply neglect to say something important and relevant when the Super Bowl comes around, when the back-to-school shopping season starts and so on.


Sometimes, businesses manage to be unsuccessful without making any of these mistakes. This can come from unwillingness to try anything new. The most important thing with putting your business on a social network is to be engaged and to constantly try to find a way to reach out to your customer base and be relevant to them.

Guest author: Bill Nixon is immersed in all things social media and marketing. An experienced writer, you can find his interesting articles mostly on marketing, business and financial blog sites. Check out these reviews about services like Yodle for more ideas.


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  • vivienne neale

    I know it’s hard to be original but this article is rather generic and most people are now looking for innovative ideas rather than ‘ have an editorial calendar’ -we’ve been advised to do this for ages. What marketers are looking for are ideas that can be tweaked and fitted to specific niches or breaking down specific target markets. We are struggling to make our social media different, quirky, fun, informative, different (depending on the area of course) I’m afraid this is an example of blogging using lots of words and not being specific enough…pity…sorry to sound so negative.

  • I agree with everything except the last point about having an editorial calendar. I have never planned my use of social media, and in fact most new business has come from random conversations with people which definitely can’t be planned! I think the other biggest mistake people/businesses/companies make is they forget that it’s “social” media and just use it as another advertising/marketing portal.

  • Excellent point raised with #2 on your list. Quality over Quantity is key here. If you’re working in the mortgage industry or finance, is a Pinterest account going to do as much good for you? Maybe not. However, if you’re in a more creative few, yes. It’s all about figuring how what will lead to conversions via Social for your industry.

  • Reshu Rathi

    Hi, Bill! Social media is a great channel to promote your brand, and you have offered some good advice here about what not to do. I especially think #1 is the most valuable. Often people mistake the number of Fans/Followers for engagement.

    I would also like to add two more points here:

    1) Ignoring social media complaints and delay in replying on social media is one of the biggest mistakes made by brands when handling their social media accounts. Your quick response plays a very important role in social media. According to a study by Edison Research, “62% of people expect a reply within one hour”.

    2) Focusing on short-term profit over building relationships with consumers. While promoting their product and service they miss out on consumer loyalty to their brand. Investing in building relationships first and then promote your product and services.

    3) Not responding to the negative comments is a big blunder committed by many brands:

  • Felix Brown

    article on using social media properly. It is a very effective way of promoting
    our website and providing direct feedback.

  • Starting a social media campaign needs a lot of attention, especially on its first day where you need to monitor comments, and interact with users. Make sure you post at least twice a day to increase your page activity as well.