Performance Marketing Strategy

7 Biggest Mistakes Brands Make With Social Media

Many brands treat social media as a disparate marketing channel, never leveraging its full potential to drive business results. With countless advertising opportunities and in-the-moment messaging capabilities, social media might be the most powerful communication channel to ever exist.

They key is to use social media wisely.

From informing decisions based on inaccurate customer assumptions to creating a presence on the wrong platform, we’ve compiled a list of the seven biggest social media mistakes brands make.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to Be Everywhere
A dentist on Snapchat? An insurance company on Instagram? Some brands have a presence on every available social media channel. But why?

Unless you’re providing valuable, relevant content to an audience that will actually engage with your brand, skip it. Brands that try to be everywhere on social media end up wasting time, effort, money, and resources because they aren’t reaching their customer base.

How to course correct: Know your audience — and communicate with them where they are. Focus your social media efforts to make your marketing work smartly.

Mistake No. 2: Prioritizing Vanity Metrics Instead of Business Objectives
We get it. You love being liked. You need fans. You want customers to make comments. But if your social presence doesn’t convert leads or drive sales, what’s the point?

How to course correct: Although vanity metrics are fun and can help a brand differentiate from competitors (“Customers ‘like’ us the best!”), they don’t offer any real value. Brands that focus on meeting their business objectives rather than just being popular are the ones that see real results.

In the last few years, social media marketing has evolved from collecting followers to meeting business objectives. There are myriad tools available that can measure the performance and return on investment (ROI) of your advertising and marketing efforts.

Mistake No. 3: Focusing on Follower Count
Unless your brand is new or entering an emerging market, or you need to build brand awareness, there’s little reason to focus on increasing followers. Growing a fan base on Instagram or Facebook is like building a mansion on sand: It’s expensive and could collapse.

How to course correct: Focus on building out the channels you can control, like expanding an email list or driving traffic to your website and collecting valuable pixel data.

Mistake No. 4: Not Listening to Customers
From reviews on Yelp or Google My Business to comments on Facebook, there’s value in giving customers a way to communicate about the brand on social media. But there’s even more value when you listen and respond to customers on your own pages — and in outside conversations.

How to course correctSocial media listening, via tools like Brandwatch or Crimson Hexagon, enables a brand to gather valuable insights about itself or its competitors. These tools use keyword and image recognition technology to scour the web and find brand “mentions,” which are instances when people might not be directly engaging with the brand. (Think of it as friendly spying.)

The insights gathered from this type of analysis can help inform new products, public relations campaigns, or overall brand sentiment.

One word of caution: Tread lightly when communicating with users who aren’t directly or intentionally engaging the brand. Some may view it as a privacy infringement (although technically it’s not) or a “big brother” move.

Mistake No. 5: Not Having a Crisis Communications Plan
There are obvious benefits to expanding customer service to all of your social channels. For example, there are SEO advantages to responding to both positive and negative reviews on Google My Business.

But what happens if a customer has a bad experience? Social media platforms are where customers often go when something is wrong. And as anyone who’s ever been on social media knows, bad news spreads quickly.

How to course correct: A crisis communications plan is key to stopping issues from snowballing. Social media is a two-way street. Because these platforms provide a way to engage with customers, it’s important to keep the communication flowing.

Mistake No. 6: Separating Social From Other Marketing Efforts
Keeping social media communications separate from other marketing efforts is old school. Although most people use social media in some capacity, not every customer does.

How to course correct: Brands should target customers across all available media channels. It’s important to align efforts to ensure cross-channel integration with email, direct mail, broadcast, display campaigns, and more.

Mistake No. 6: Assuming You Know Your Customers
Sometimes the biggest and best marketing campaigns fail. The reason? The message or targeting missed the mark. When marketers make assumptions about their customer base or rely on gut instinct, the results can be costly missteps.

Brands often forget that their audience is constantly changing. What works today probably won’t work tomorrow. Audience exhaustion — what happens when a brand repeatedly targets the same audience with the same ad — also leads to diminishing returns.

How to course correct: A brand’s customer base evolves over time. Testing different audiences across social platforms is necessary to ensure the marketing is on point. First-party data is more reliable than demographic information or panel testing. Test repeatedly across platforms to gather the most accurate results.

By Sarah Hudnall

Sarah leads a team of social media practitioners responsible for the development and execution of paid and organic strategy for major brands.