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5 Most Common Mistakes in Social Media

social media mistakesWhen my agency started doing social media audits three years ago, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. What we soon discovered is that, big or small, B2B or B2C, many companies seem to be making the same mistakes, regardless of the department leading the charge.  Here is a quick overview of the five most common mistakes we’re seeing, along with notes on how to correct these self-defeating faux pas. 

1. The Wrong Metrics

The most common metric mistake is emphasizing the number of fans you have over other markers, an approach that is symptomatic of a larger problem: viewing social as another mass medium through which branded content can be pushed. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how large your social footprint is if fans aren’t talking about your content on Facebook (PTAT) and sharing your videos, tweets and or LinkedIn posts.  Enlightened brands use and monitor several more illuminating metrics, including brand sentiment, speed and quality of customer service resolution and engagement (comments, shares, CTRs, etc.). 

2. Too Many Handles and/or Channels

Once the social media bug began to spread across companies, every line extension of a line extension wanted its own Facebook page or Twitter account and/or Pinterest board.  IBM, for example, discovered through an audit that it had hundreds of branded handles on Twitter, and ultimately, they decided to reduce that list to only a few handfuls. Similarly, many brands are stretched too thin, jumping onto new platforms without the resources to keep their content fresh and their fans engaged.  It is better to just do a few channels really well than to be everywhere inconsistently.

3. All You, All the Time

In social settings, brands, like people, get really boring if they only talk about themselves. Of course, you want to sell more products, but unless you have genuine news or product offers, brands should focus on being interesting and interested.  Creating content that is interesting requires knowing your target really well—something that is increasingly easier with Facebook analytics platforms. Being interested starts by responding to comments and continues by asking questions.

4. Social is Isolated in One Department         

Since marketers want to market, customer service wants to help and HR wants to recruit, isolating social in one department often limits the multi-functional role that it can play for an organization. This need not be the case. We recently participated in a client’s brand integration workshop and concluded that social media touched the work of seven other agencies, including advertising, media buying, web development, SEO, PR and customer experience, which speaks to the necessity of sharing the social love across your company.

5. No Road Map

As the old saying goes, any road looks good if you don’t know where you’re going. And so it goes with social, which sprouted haphazardly within most companies.  Establishing a clear road map for your company is imperative, and an effective road map should assign a purpose to each channel, set up an editorial calendar, create an escalation process for customer complaints and determine staffing needs. Lastly, the road map should define the paid or earned media that will ultimately be required to achieve any kind of scale.  

Final note: If you aren't making mistakes in social, then chances are you aren't trying anything new. The trick is to turn these mistakes into learning opportunities that will ultimately put you one step ahead of your more cautious competitors. Please let me know if you have any great success stories that started from so-called mistakes--I'd love to make that the follow up story.  

image: mistake/shutterstock

Join The Conversation

  • Jay North's picture
    Mar 7 Posted 3 years ago Jay North

    I completely agree with this article. Specially the misconception about the metrics on having the large footprints of fans without talking about the quality of the content. This should be noted as the most important point by business owners. 

  • Dec 26 Posted 3 years ago pnplondon

    It is becoming clear that the various Social Media platforms are not suitable for all types of companies or brands.

    Twitter is excellent for corporations that want to keep their customers sweet regarding their 'customer care'  and output of general information.

    Facebook has definitely got two distinct groups - general and socially engaged.  The latter people not being of any use to businesses and brands.  Key issue: how can FB differentiate between the two groups for its advertisers?

    LinkedIn is excellent for professionals and businesses.  That's why it has definitely risen in its use by businesses and brands, as the audience is more targeted for their advertising and other business promotions.

    Hope this helps?


  • Oct 12 Posted 3 years ago Sakara Brobeck

    I went to your facebook page and it still screams "ME, ME, ME!". I could not find one post (excluding one about 9/11) that doesn't have something to do with ice, water, or ice machines. You have no engagement on your posts. It is okay to post articles, pics, etc that do not have something to do with ice, water or ice making machines. 

  • socialengaged's picture
    Oct 10 Posted 3 years ago socialengaged

    Great article,

    What you say it's true, but in the first when you mention wrong metrics analysis, I would add that also point fan metrics are important, I think, especially from an SEO perspective, and especially if we look at G+ 1's company pages. 

    Interesting metrics about social media and SEO are in this "Social Indexing" results from a test.

    You may want to have a look :)

    For more about this test you can visit the blog @ agenzia Social Engagement, SEO & Web Marketing.


  • IceMachinesPlus's picture
    Oct 4 Posted 3 years ago IceMachinesPlus

    I spent the first 3 months of our social media campaign posting tweets and posts along these lines: "Like our page!" and "Buy this ice machine!" and was dumbfounded when I didn't receive the desired results or actions... Now, all of our posts are engaging, provide information or advice, and seek to help and focus on others rather than "ME, ME, ME"! Having a childlike mentality will get you childlike results. We've also been able to provide better information by pointing a lot of our links back to our ice machines blog, which has come to be regarded as one of the best sources of information in the industry!

  • RichardStacy's picture
    Sep 30 Posted 3 years ago RichardStacy

    Like the idea that any road looks good when you don't know where you are going!

    I think the broader problem is not just lack of roadmap - it is trying to get to the wrong detsination.  It is easy to see the social space as simply an extension of the traditional marketing space - which is all about channel and message, reach and frequency.  Social media is a behaviour identification and response challenge - it is completely different. 

    Social media is a low reach space (at any moment in time) so therefore the levels of engagement you need to create have to be very high - and the sort of engagement most organisations are creating - no matter how impressive the metrics might seem - is the wrong type of engagement.  It is engagement that looks at how consumers engage with what brands are doing, not how brands understand and are 'engaged with' what consumers are doing.

    So you are absolutely right - we have got the wrong metrics - but shifting from likes to more sophisticated measures won't solve the problem.  It is still measuring the wrong type of engagement.


  • Sep 14 Posted 3 years ago Lanre Sonola

    For me, it's trying to convince clients that they really don't need to be on yet another platform. I like that you included the part about brands spreading themselves too thin. At the end of the day, you find that a brand never needs to be on more than 4-5 platforms. Depending on the brand, two might even suffice.

  • Thomas Outt's picture
    Sep 14 Posted 3 years ago Thomas Outt

    This was good advice & written in a way that was not off putting or full of sarcasm.  It felt welcoming & encouraging.  Thanks for the advice--it's so easy to be all about yourself--our culture seems to encourage that from so many angles.  Now to unlearn a bad habit can be a good thing.  Sounds almost like Mae West. 

  • Sep 10 Posted 3 years ago suzannecorcoran

    Drew, I am stuck on Mistake #1 - the wrong metrics. How do you convince others that number of likes are not as important as engaged users.  How do you PROVE it?  The old arguement that the most important thing is the number of eyeballs that see you facebook page needs to be debunked. Competitors have more likes - does that matter?  Others here say absolutely.

  • SamuelPustea's picture
    Jul 10 Posted 4 years ago ThaSam

    Social media is not always about "you" and more about "them" or your followers.

    That is a mistake that maybe some entrepreneurs make and was great to see it included in this article.

    Social media is an art that bloggers are failing in, righ and left.


    Keep up the good work!


    Samuel from internetdreams.com

  • JPAN's picture
    Jul 9 Posted 4 years ago JPAN


    Couldn't have said it better myself. Two more critical mistakes you should include are:

    - Forgetting your one post powerful asset - your own employees. These are your strongest advocates who live and breath the organization. Finding those who are the most passionate (this could simply mean those who live the company culture and can speak to the products/ethos with ease) who are also on social media are resources often overlooked. Not tapping them to help support marketing and PR efforts using their own networks is a mistake.

    - Rushing to churn out a large volume of content for the sake of SEO is a mistake -- and I'm sure i"ll hear about it on this feed. There's a rush right now to throw everything at Google's algorithm and the quality of content is spiraling. Does a 6 second vine video REALLY add value where a whitepaper makes more sense? Don't sacrifice quality for quantity or it will cost you potential views, customers, you name it.

    Jessica Payne

  • k.singh's picture
    Apr 16 Posted 4 years ago k.singh

    Another common mistake that some small businesses make is to try to use social media as a channel for direct sales or promotions. Sure, the occasions share about a special offer or an ongoing promition is very helpful for followers but it should constitute a very small share or total shares. There are some exceptions to this rule of course. One I can think of, from the top of my head, is Dell Outlet who have created a strong sales chaneel on Twitter for their refirbished products.

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