10 Big Social Media Marketing Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Done right, social media marketing has the potential for immense success. It’s a surefire way to reach your audience where they spend most of their online time. It’s also an opportunity to establish and spread your brand voice, getting your unique product or service in front of the right people at the right time. 

And yet, too many businesses do social media wrong. At its best, it’s an equalizer that allows small and medium-sized businesses to be just as successful as Fortune 500 companies. To get there, you have to avoid these 10 mistakes that many companies make.

1) The Lack of a Strategy

It’s tempting to just jump in. After all, you already know social media from personal use, so levering it for marketing can’t be that difficult, right? 

Wrong. Half of small businesses don’t have a social media strategy. As a result, they:

  • Don’t know their audience and can’t build their content accordingly.
  • Don’t define their marketing goals and can’t strategically work to reach them.
  • Don’t diversify their efforts effectively across different channels.
  • Don’t account for formal and informal ways to engage with their audiences.

In fact, most of the mistakes below can be fixed with a strategy in place. This tutorial can help you build a simple strategy design to guide your efforts going forward.

2) Identical Posts Across Networks

The easiest way to manage multiple networks on social media is to just share your content across them. It’s also a significant mistake. 

Social media demographics vary drastically from Twitter to Pinterest to Snapchat to LinkedIn. User intentions also change; LinkedIn is a professional network, while Snapchat is about as casual as it gets. Twitter is text-based, while Instagram relies on visuals.

Failure to account for these difference carries opportunity costs. Instead, build a sub-strategy for every network your business is on, based on user demographics and intent.

3) Stretching Yourself Too Thin

More is not always better for this type of marketing. On the outset, it might make sense to open up business accounts in as many channels as possible. Each of them, though, is a lot of work. If you don’t have the time for it, an inactive account can actually reflect negatively on your company.

You don’t need a business account on every social network. Instead, strategically choose between one and three networks that match your target audience and industry. That way, you avoid stretching yourself too thin.

4) Turning Social Into a One-Way Street

The core opportunity of social media is in its name. It’s a way to engage with your audience instead of just pushing promotional messages on them. And yet, too many businesses turn social into a one-way street. They:

  • Focus on publishing content, regardless of comments.
  • Don’t visit or respond to positive or negative comments in their feed.
  • Ignore personal messages or don’t respond quickly.

Social networks are full of businesses who went down this route only to end up with largely inactive accounts. You don’t have to shout into the void. Instead, build content with responses in mind, and make sure that you monitor and engage with these responses as they come in.

5) Ignoring the Competition


The latest estimate has businesses who use social media for marketing around 80%. That means your closest competitors are probably out there. Your audience knows that, and might even be following them.

Ignoring them would be a mistake. Your social presence doesn’t exist in isolation. If your audience knows what your competition is doing, so should you. Monitor their efforts to find smart strategies as well as niches that you can jump into for your audience.

6) Closing Your Ears to Social Listening

Social listening describes the process of combing social media for mentions of your business, product, and other relevant topics. Done right, it can help you:

  • Find new prospects and key members of your target audience.
  • Identify influencers whose opinion hold sway over your audience.
  • Find at-risk customers of competitors to steal them.
  • Identify problem areas with complaints and questions that pertain to your business.

In other words, social listening should be a significant part of your social media strategy. To get started, check out these 10 tools that help you monitor the web for relevant content.

7) Over-Promoting Your Brand

It’s not all about you. Just like social media can’t be a one-way street, not all the content you post can be promotional. Most of it, in fact, should be about general industry topics and other areas your audience cares about.

In some ways, the 80/20 rule applies here. Only about 20% of the content you post should promote your brand or products. The rest needs to be engaging, audience-focused, and forward-thinking.

8) Ignoring Current Social Trends

Look back at what social media was like a decade ago. Twitter was still in its infancy, and Facebook had just introduced the newsfeed. In this environment, things change quickly. The only way to succeed is by monitoring these changes.

More recent social media trends include:

  • An emphasis on visuals, especially video.
  • The rise of vertical video as the dominant visual.
  • Chatbots and artificial intelligence designed to drive conversations.
  • Messenger apps and other 1:1 communication as the new normal.
  • Mobile devices as the #1 option for users on social media.

Knowing about these trends helps you make adjustments and build your strategy not just for the present, but for the future. Sites like Marketing LandSocial Media Examiner, and HubSpot are great resources to get you started.

9) Failure to Insert Your Brand Voice

Social media is your opportunity to be unique, and showcase that uniqueness to your audience. Don’t waste that opportunity by sounding generic or ‘just like any other business’.

Instead, adjust your tone and messaging to fit your brand identity, mission, and vision. Building and maintaining your brand voice is crucial to stand out amidst billions of users and millions of other businesses.

10) Measuring the Wrong KPI

You don’t know whether you’re successful if you cannot define what ‘success’ actually means. Too many businesses on social media focus on vanity metrics like follower counts, which don’t actually say much about your true success on the medium.

Instead, find deeper engagement metrics to understand whether your content gets through to your audience. Measure the click-throughs, conversions, and even the comments. The deeper you get into understanding your users’ journey through social media, the better.

Are You Ready to Build Social Media the Right Way?

Social media has the potential for immense ROI. You just have to know how to approach it the right way. That means starting with a strategy, putting your audience at the center, and building everything around your value proposition and brand identity.

Simply avoiding the mistakes your competitors make is a great start. Using them as a jumping off point to improve on them and master your social media presence is even better. Do it right, and it becomes the engine in your digital marketing strategy, designed to drive anything from brand awareness to customer conversions.