Top Social Media Mistakes, According to the Experts

by · February 1, 201353 comments

Nearly 90% of U.S. companies are using social media, according to eMarketer. Clearly, we’ve come a long way since the days when businesses debated if they should be participating in social media. Now, it’s about how businesses are using social and whether those efforts are effective.

There is no dearth of advice on best-practices in social media. For marketers, this generous supply of tips can be overwhelming and even contradictory. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many brands on social networks make mistakes that result in low community following, sub-par engagement levels, and customer alienation.

So, how to sort through all the noise and hone in on the most valuable social media best practices? The solution: focus on advice from the folks who have long established leadership and expertise in social media.  We asked ten social media strategists whom we follow to identify the top mistakes they see businesses making on social networks.

Are you guilty of the social media mistakes below?


Mistake: No social media plan

RhondaAbrams

The top mistake most businesses make is they don’t come up with a realistic social media plan: what they’re going to say in their posts, and their tone, who will manage it, how frequently they’ll post. Social media, like all aspects of your business, should have a good ROI (return on investment), but if you don’t know what your goals are and what resources you’re going to devote to it, there’s no way to measure success.

 

Rhonda Abrams (@RhondaAbrams), CEO at The Planning ShopUSA Today Columnist, and Author of Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies


Mistake: Not socializing the business internally and/or externally

Britopian Blog

For the last few years, I have been talking about the need for companies to start thinking about socializing their business. But the question I often get is “why?” Why is it important for my business to deploy internal communities, tear down silos, coordinate go-to-market plans or get my butt out of my cubicle and have a conversation with my colleagues in public relations? These are all good questions.

I look at social business strategy as an enabler.

Now, I am a marketing guy by trade so many of the challenges I help my clients with are the ones that help them improve the way they communicate externally and internally. Sometimes it’s about operationalizing their content marketing strategy. Other times, it’s about building processes and workflows that can help scale social media globally. And many times, it’s fixing disjointed content and community management practices.

In other words, in order to fix all this chaos, you need to have an effective social business strategy that enables better content, smarter marketing and more effective customer relationships.

Michael Brito (@britopian), SVP of Social Business Strategy at Edelman and Author of Smart Business, Social Business


Mistake: Having no content strategy or the wrong content strategy

Robert-Caruso

You must have enough interesting, relevant and valuable content in your stream every day that is interesting, relevant and valuable to your audience. Not enough or the wrong content will miss the mark on actions, comments and relationship building. Content leads to conversations, conversations build relationships and relationships drive ROI.

Robert M. Caruso (@fondalo), CEO of BundlePost

 


Mistake: Not understanding that social media requires hard work

JasonFalls

The biggest mistake most companies make is expecting social media to be the easy button. We all want to find that one big, fast solution that drives tons of revenue and fixes all our worries, but nothing is — not advertising, not a new phone system, not a new sales director, not social media. Anything you participate in as a business takes thought, planning, work, measurement, adjustment, rework and the likes to be successful. But they call can be successful if you go at it like work! Stop looking for the easy button. It doesn’t exist. Do the work.

Jason Falls (@JasonFalls), Founder of Social Media Explorer and Author of No Bullshit Social Media


Mistake: Not investing in owned assets

Jason Keath

The biggest mistake for many is not investing in owned assets enough. A strong email list, a blog or content website, and richer media assets (video, infographics, etc) are all essential elements of a well rounded social media presence for any business. The branding, SEO, and integration benefits are endless. Good examples include the Whole Foods recipe site and Disney’s many blogs.

Many of the questions we get from the Social Fresh community revolve around not seeing an ROI. I find many of these businesses are stuck in a social network silo, investing in Facebook tabs only or Twitter conversations only. Focus on your owned assets and smart strategies that connect your social network activity back to your owned assets. These are the connections that will help you get from Tweets to accomplishing your business goals.

Jason Keath (@jasonkeath), CEO and Founder of Social Fresh


Mistake: Talking about themselves more than 20% of the time

Nichole Kelly

Companies and individuals need to share great stuff from others at least 80% of the time so they can EARN the right to talk about themselves without turning their audience off. Just because you have a Twitter channel doesn’t give you permission to fill my stream with YOUR latest blog post, sale, deal or promo. That and using the phrase, “just a little self promotion.” Inherently, that statement negates any value I would’ve gotten from the content, but hey, thanks for the spam warning so I know to ignore you!

Nichole Kelly (@Nichole_Kelly), CEO of Social Media Explorer and Author of How To Measure Social Media


Mistake: Using social media as a broadcasting tool and not a conversation starter

Marcy Massura

This applies to brands and individuals ….when all you are doing is promoting and not connecting you are nothing more than the annoying loud-mouth at the party trying to sell everyone insurance.

Over diversification. There is no law that says in order to do social well you have to be on EVERY SINGLE PLATFORM. Time to focus. Once you really understand what you want out of your social experience and you really understand how each platform performs…align those and go long.

Marcy Massura (@marcymassura), Digital Manager and Strategist at Weber Shandwick


Mistake: Forgetting the human element

mark_schaefer

Somehow when they enter the digital space, people forget that behind every little avatar is a real person — an amazing person — who deserves to be acknowleged and respected. We’ve created this digital divide that gets in the way. Treat people the way you would treat them in real life. Be human. Make friends. Be kind. And remember that whatever you say, no matter how casually you say it, becomes part of your image and your brand.

Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer), Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions, Professor at Rutgers University, and Author of Return on Influence


Mistake: Ignoring comments on Facebook fan pages

mari_smith

It blows my mind that brands with big budgets will allocate money to social media campaigns, creating all the fancy assets, putting the metrics in place, getting teams involved in the roll out, etc, etc…. only to omit the all-important component of proper community management. (In some cases, that may mean 24/7 support).

Social media marketing and measurement firm Socialbakers created a new standard of customer care called “Socially Devoted.” The firm found that brands are ignoring 70% of fan comments. When brands do respond it typically takes them a full 24 hours on average; yet brands should be aiming to respond within 10 – 30 minutes! (Tip: always @ tag the commenter in the thread so they get a notification of your response). The faster your response time, the happier you will keep your fans – these are your customers and prospects. And that’s money in the bank!

Mari Smith (@MariSmith), Social Media Thought Leader, Author  of The New Relationship Marketing & Co-Author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day

 


Mistake: Using LinkedIn as a resume service, not leveraging Twitter DMs

Jake_Wengroff

LinkedIn is not simply a floating resume. You can present your expertise even in small ways, including sharing articles relevant to your job, company, or industry, and including a few insightful comments. It keeps you top of mind, and you can appear higher in LinkedIn search results (the social networks are search engines in their own right).

Sending public tweets that should really be direct messages (DMs). Please understand the difference between the two, and even if you think that no one will see the public conversation between the two of you because of Twitter’s change in distributing @ replies, anyone can still read the tweets by switching to your Timeline view. However, using the DM function of Twitter can actually replace text messaging, and can be a great resource.

Jake Wengroff (@jakewengroff), Founder of JXB1 and Social Business Expert


Have you fallen prey to any of these mistakes? What other social media mistakes have you seen companies make? Join the conversation, leave a comment.

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About Baochi Nguyen

Baochi Nguyen

Baochi Nguyen is CEO of Social Canny, a digital marketing and social strategy agency. A fifteen-year veteran of the Internet industry, Baochi's expertise spans product marketing, marketing communications, PR, events, mobile technologies, social media and analytics. She has worked at large enterprises like Alcatel/Lucent, as well as startups such as Boingo Wireless and RingCentral. Baochi's leadership in social marketing and CRM has earned recognition in Mashable, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various book publications including The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund. As a communicator and technophile, Baochi aims to convey technology's uses and benefits in ways that are accessible and easy to understand by consumer and business users. Baochi holds Bachelor and Master's degrees from Stanford University, CA.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/DavidGrahamSA David Graham

    Thank you Baochi. On thing I would add is to ensure that you do it with passion. This is all about making emotional connections with your community. If your true personality does not come across, you will struggle to gain the emotive support you hope to achieve from your brand advocates and customers.

    • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

      Well said David. Passion is more often then note the difference between good enough and remarkable. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/baochi.nguyen Baochi Nguyen

      David, thanks for you comment. I totally agree with you! So much about social media communications is transparent to audiences. So it’s obvious when the emotion and tone behind the brand voice is passionate versus apathetic. Passion always trumps! 

  • http://twitter.com/shaynbaron Shayn Baron

    And.. don’t forget to say thank you :)  

    • http://www.facebook.com/baochi.nguyen Baochi Nguyen

      Shayn! Yes! It’s ultimately about customer and community appreciation.

  • Alan Cuenca

    Thanks Baochi! Great advice there. Assimilating NOW!

  • Dara Khajavi

    All of these mistakes are mistakes I commonly see large corporations make. Many brands view social media as something they should just have to be competitive. Few brand have fully utilized social media to its full extent. Social media is a great communication tool that requires careful thought and planning.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelPeshkam Michael Peshkam

    This is all very helpful, and I
    thank the contributors.  How influential do you think the early Social Media
    (SM) advocates were in creating the “build it they will come” SM fad?

     

    My take is that they did create a
    fad without pointing out some of the obvious challenges you have addressed in this
    blog.  This fad let to a general misconception that any business – Independent, SME, and
    Enterprise - with a presence on SM platforms can
    easily

    A. Build their brand and
    reputation

    B. Drive the conversation and
    generate greater business value

    C. Build connections and cultivate collaboration to reap great benefits 

    with modest outcomes.  

     

    Businesses
    that did not have “celebrity status” became perplexed how best to create interest
    and sizable followers that could translate into tangible business outcomes.  

     

    The
    “mistakes” you have outlined are all well; however, the following challenges
    still remain that require your attention: 

    i. Too much data is created by
    each person competing for attention.  Each message adds more to the noise, and it becomes ineffective to
    draw attention and drive traffic onto one’s own site

    ii. Too many niche channels
    make it hard to know which to join, participate in, and create conversations
    that matter.  The conversations are primarily one way, focus and objective are
    quickly lost, and becomes ineffective to create business value

    iii. Too much time and effort
    required to manage, participate, and create interest. Thus, ineffective to
    create meaningful ROI

     

    In my view there is a need for a well thought out Social Business (SB) strategy that integrates the three types of
    social networks:

    1. Public / external social networks like Facebook,
    Linkedin, and Twitter  (social Internet)

    2. Focused customer / business communities – the internal /
    external – networks that are managed by companies  (social extranets)

    3. Internal networks / employee communities that are inside an
    organization (social intranets)

     

    It is of course imperative to
    understand the pros and cons of such an integrated SB strategy and how best to engage the right constituents in the right network in order to drive the expected outcome.

     

    Your thoughts please?@MichaelPeshkam, @xincus:disqus  

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  • Mark Schaefer

    Many thanks for including me Baochi. Congratulations on an interesting round-up!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1379525272 Karl Brisard

    Solid advice! Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.virtual-excellence.com/ Lynn Edwards

    Great Stuff!  

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  • http://marismith.com/ Mari Smith

    Glad to contribute to this roundup. Some great input here. You totally rock @facebook-751016755:disqus - high five!! :) 

  • Ilove2argue@yahoo.com

    Vague “advice” wastes my time again…

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      The good news? You don’t have to read it if you don’t want. Sorry to disappoint.

      • http://www.bikestylespokane.com/ BarbChamberlain

        You don’t disappoint, Jason. The email address for this commenter sums it up.

    • WonderFunBooks

      Two partial reasons for vague advice. One, some of us are still new at this. Two, this is a way for the SM gurus to advertise, so you will find one or two you want to listen to enough to pay for. ;)

  • Arushi Gupta

    Very interesting advice! And completely agree with some of the tips like “forgetting the human element” and “ignoring fan comments on pages.” Some brands that I would like to interact with do just this on Facebook and it is an immediate turn off, my image of their products and brand in general would be much higher and I would be more inclined to purchase from them if they had changed these simple rules. 

  • Andre

    Any of us using SM is guilty, at some point, of one of these mistakes. I would like to add another – time. No matter what you have to offer, it takes time to build a decent SM long-term relationship. The availability of content is so prevalent that it is easy to forget the value comes from people returning to, and caring about, what you post. I do not believe there is a quick way to do this other than to have a plan where you will target, and actually take the time to build relationships that are not self-centered or self-serving.

    Excellent post and thanks for the advice.

  • http://twitter.com/forfeng Heather Turner

    I’ll add deleting tweets to that, especially used for a customer service issue

  • Tracy Brown

    I’ve worked with some clients who think social media is play – not work. The ones who come to understand that yes, this DOES take planning, time (“face-time”), evaluation, etc., that it should be a part of the business’ overall marketing plan, really come to appreciate it as a tool to reach out to current and potential customers. It might take some extra effort on my end to show them, but it’s always worth it.

    I enjoyed this post! Keep those “expert tips” coming! :)

  • Samson Daniel

    Social
    Media I really hate to be exploiting yes the topic should be interesting and beneficial
    no doubt. Your advice is really handy to avoid such drastic mistakes. 

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    Great advice. I wonder how this advice would have differed just 3 years ago.

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  • http://www.callboxinc.com.au/ Maegan Anderson

    For me,the best way to advertise your product is through social media. But doing this without any plan can also cause a lot of troubles that’s why it is very important to set first your strategy before you make a move.

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  • http://twitter.com/HaleyRaeCohen Haley Cohen

    I am studying Social Media Theory and Practice with @DR4WARD:twitter  at @NewhouseSU:twitter and I have subscribed to the Social Media Explorer Blog for my class #NewhouseSM4.
    Companies get so caught up in having to be on social media that they dont devise a a social media plan and set the tone of how they will be talking on these sites.  These companies should look to media companies who specialize in social media marketing for help! 

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  • http://www.doitsocially.com/ Muhammad Adil

    Wow wonderful post. You gathered the opinions of all the experts around the industry. Though I believe that all social media mistakes mentioned above are everyday mistakes done my most of the companies. However I personally seen many companies using social media without PLAN, they are just doing it because they seen others in the industry doing the same. This is something bigger then mistake – A BLUNDER.

  • Karen

    Wonderful advice, thanks for sharing.

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  • Theestatetoolbox

    Great advice, short, to the point and easy to understand

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  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    All good advice. I’d add that the number one myth I hear is social media can be used as media. Technically, there are a few opportunity to blast a message. 99.9% of the time, it’s much better for a two way conversation

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