Just starting out? Here's 8 social media marketing mistakes to avoid at all costs

Social media can be a positive and engaging tool to communicate with your potential and existing customers but in the wrong hands it can also have a very unpleasant impact on your business. Not just that, social media takes time to understand and manage, which is why we’ve put together a list of the most obvious mistakes to avoid when promoting your company through social media.

1. Trying to be in too many places at once

First and foremost it’s important to remember that different channels have a different demographic of people using them, so choosing which channel is right for your brand is the first step – especially when you consider how much time it takes to competently manage one channel. Focus your efforts on only a handful of social networks (even just one!) – spread yourself too thin and you will very quickly run into problems with scheduling new content, replying comments, and delivering a consistent message.
If you’re just starting out, then it’s ok to dabble in a wide variety of social networks. The caveat to this point is that as soon as you start seeing results on one network, or see that that channel is where your target customer is, it’s best to focus your efforts there. Ditch the networks that don’t work, and only spend time on those where your customers are interacting on a regular basis.

2. Not replying to your customers

This could be an extension of the first point, but it’s oh so important to keep in mind. If your customers are reaching out to you on social media, make sure you are replying to them in a timely fashion. When you do reply, it’s often best to take the conversation into a more private setting as soon as possible, such as email or private chat if you can.
Not replying to customers will also give the impression that nobody’s home. Company pages and profiles that look inactive are much less likely to attract any new engagement. So not only is replying to your fans on social an example of good customer service, it’s a great way to show potential customers that your company cares too.

3. Starting a fight

Hopefully this one is obvious, but don’t argue back or get aggressive with anyone on social media.
It’s fine to stand your ground every now and again, but there’s very little to be gained from winning an argument with a customer on social media. You might be able to prove that you’re “right” but it sends a very poor message to anyone else who happens to be watching.
As with point number 2, take the conversation into a private setting as soon as possible. If that’s not an option for whatever reason, always take the high ground. You want to show other people that your customer service representatives aren’t trained to bite the head off of anyone who has a complaint.

4. No strategy

You don’t need to plan everything down to the last detail, but it definitely helps to have a strategy, even if you’re only starting small.
Figure out how often to post on different social networks, implement a process for finding interesting pieces of content or creating your own, and decide who will be responsible for replying to customers and interacting with other influencers on social. The aim is to move away from posting just when inspiration strikes, and towards an easy-to-follow process that can be actioned by anyone.

5. Not using hashtags

Many forms of social media rely on hashtags to group conversations and keep track of what topics are popular at the moment. Using them not only makes you part of the conversation, but it helps put you in front of people searching for specific keywords and phrases on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
There’s no need to #hashtag #every #word, but make sure you’re drawing attention to words that mean something in your industry, or keywords that are related to a time-sensitive conversation happening right now. Overdo the hashtags and people will very quickly get the impression that you don’t know what you’re doing.

6. Split personality disorder

You might have more than one online presence, but each of them still links back to just one business. Using a different tone of voice or sharing completely unrelated content across different platforms is a great way to confuse your customers. It’s hard to trust a business if they’re giving the impression of a multinational on Facebook, but talk like a startup on Twitter.
Pick a tone of voice and stick to it. As for the content you share, it’s fine to have a bit of fun on Friday afternoons, or over the weekend, but don’t stray too far from how your customers perceive you. Changing the image your business gives off can be done, but the later in the game you try, the harder it’s going to be.

7. Not using social media management tools

Pure and simple, if you’re not using social media management tools, you’re wasting time. Being able to wrangle seven different social media accounts at once might be an impressive skill to show off now, but it won’t feel so great when someone else can do the same job in half the time. That’s the power of social media management tools like Hootsuite.
What’s more, social media management tools aren’t that expensive (Hootsuite is free for the basic account), and once you’ve got a system in place, you can focus your efforts on other activities that will grow your business and add more value for your customers.

8. Sharing the same message everywhere

Spending less time on social media is a noble goal, but not if it means compromising on quality. Sharing the exact same message across all of your accounts is a good way to come across as lazy and uninterested. It also ignores the fact that each of your social media accounts will require a slightly different angle to suit that network.
Sharing some amazing photography might work on Instagram, but it’s much less likely to impress anyone on Linkedin. Tailor your messages to the appropriate audience, and tweak the type of content you’re sharing to make sure it’s well received by the type of customers that reside on a particular social network.
So there you have it, eight mistakes to avoid when using social media. Some of them might seem obvious, yet we see them happening so regularly – even by big brands which can be the worse offenders!
With thanks for the image (with minor lighting edits)