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6 Social Media Mistakes You’re Probably Making (& How to Avoid Them)

Jennifer Gregory

You have fewer followers than your competitors. No one retweets or shares your posts. Each day you worry that your boss will realize your efforts aren’t working. And some days it feels like only your mother follows your company’s social media channels.

It seems like social media should be easy. But it’s not. Just about every company, person, and celebrity (and even their dogs) are on social media these days. It’s tough — really tough — to stand out.

There are many small (and big) ways you can accidentally make mistakes, and the odds are high that you’re making mistakes that are costing your company customers and, ultimately, revenue.

But no worries, we can do more than tell what you’re doing wrong. With a few changes and tweaks, you can create social media channels that will engage people, increase your company’s visibility, and turn followers into customers.

It’s very possible that you can get on the right track before your boss notices or gets back from vacation, whichever comes first.

Mistake #1 – Posting Only Words

Words look the same. But post a cool image, and people are like a dog seeing a squirrel. Well, maybe not that excited — but close. If most of your posts are basically text only, most people are just scrolling on by and not even reading them.

The stats back this up — the Sprout Social Index found that 58% of consumers prefer visual-first content, with the top choices being graphics, images, and produced video.

Photos are great, but video is even better. It’s easy to believe creating video content is difficult — or expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. Simple videos shot on an iPad or smartphone are often the most successful (and interesting). Most importantly, videos get views and shares.

Pro Tip:

Don’t just find boring stock images — look for interesting, funny, and unique photos that will catch people’s attention and reinforce your message. However, remember that no one wants to look at a fuzzy or distorted image.

Just to make it more fun (and confusing), each social media platform has a different ideal image size. Be sure to do your research and check the current recommendations before posting.

Mistake #2 – Not Scheduling Social Media Posts

Social media only works if you actually post or tweet. It’s easy to get caught up in putting out fires and then realize that another day has gone and, despite your best intentions, you forgot to post. Again.

Plus, consistency matters — people wonder what’s going on when you don’t post for three weeks (even though you had a big deadline to meet) and then they hear from you 765 times in two days — just an estimate, of course.

Pro Tip:

Set aside time every week to schedule posts using a tool such as Hootsuite. By having a regular time — hopefully with no interruptions — you make sure it actually gets done.

Because you are looking at the whole week from a bird’s-eye view, scheduling helps you make sure that you have content that will interest all your different audience segments and that you have a good balance of sharing other people’s stuff and talking about your own company.

Be sure to also include new posts based on what is happening in your company, your industry, and the world. Many companies miss the opportunity to join in the larger conversations by only relying on scheduled posts

Mistake #3 – Being Too Professional (aka Really Boring)

Of course, you don’t want to curse or make offensive jokes. But you never want to be boring. No one wants to read posts that sound like a business report or college textbook. You want people to be intrigued and interested by what you post so that they like it enough to share with their own followers.

Your social media posts need to reflect your brand and your brand voice . And even more, be transparent — a Sprout Social report found that millennials expect more transparency from brands than friends, family, and politicians. Yes, you read that last one correctly.

Unfortunately, no one can tell you exactly what to post. And that’s the point — it has to be something that feels authentic from your company and is a bit different from what everyone else is doing.

The answer to the “What should we post?” question starts with your audience and what they care about. By using a tool such as Sendible to monitor results and engagements, you can see exactly what is working and what is failing fast. Not to mention, the tool has pretty reports and graphics that you can use to impress your boss and show your results.

Pro Tip:

People want to feel like they’re doing business with friends. Consider having several people at your company take selfies to the next level with selfie videos, which are very popular on social media right now.

Instead of a produced and formal video, capture a moment in time at your company. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — that’s kind of the point. Share things that happen at the company and with employees.

Mistake #4 – Publishing Posts When No One Is Listening

The greatest tweet is likely to go nowhere if you post a video — even a really great one — targeted to parents of young kids at 7:30 p.m., which is likely when they are busy with bath and story time. And by the time they turn on social media a few hours later, or even in the morning if they head straight to bed themselves, your earth-shattering post will be buried under a million other posts.

With social media, the day and time that you publish play a large role in the results your posts garner. Figure out the most effective times for your posts, and then schedule posts during these windows.

Pro Tip:

Everyone has an opinion — and apparently wrote an article about it — on when to publish. Social media management tools such as Sprout Social recommend the best time for your posts based on data from your posts and millions of other accounts managed on the platform

Mistake #5 – Talking Only About Yourself

You open up your word processing program — and your mind is as blank as the page. And then you start being that annoying person at the party who only talks about themself.

Well, in this case, it’s your company, your products, and how awesome you are. But no one wants to read that. And they definitely won’t share it. While you do need to talk a little bit about your company, it needs to be a conscious and well-thought-out balance.

Business.com shares a rule that works well: the 5-3-2 rule. This means 5 posts sharing curated content (shared from other people), 3 posts sharing content your company has created, and 2 personal or fun posts.

Pro Tip:

You don’t want to share just any old piece of content or post, but share content from influencers in your industry. This builds credibility with your audience and, hopefully, could lead to those influencers sharing your posts in the future.

With Sprout Social, you can easily find top influencers for your audience — based on data — to help make sure you are sharing the right content from the right people

Mistake #6 – Not Paying for Ads

With the changes in algorithms in the last year, especially on Facebook, paying for ads greatly increases your exposure — even more than in the past. Many companies have, in turn, increased their marketing budgets for paid social media ads.

According to the 2018 CMO Survey, marketers are expected to expand their social marketing spend by 66% in the next five years. This means that if you don’t use paid ads, you are likely to get even less traction than you have in the past.

Pro Tip:

Start small and see what works. Try a few ads, and make changes to see what works best.

Since consumers are pretty savvy these days, create ads that add value and don’t feel like advertising. By focusing on your customer and not on your product, you can stretch your dollars further

Start Small. Keep Going.

Before you close this article and start trying to completely reinvent your social media presence in the next hour, stop and take a breath.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed and trying to do everything (or do nothing because you don’t know where to start), pick one mistake that you’ve been making — and make some changes to fix it.

With social media, small changes and creativity can go a very long way to increase your followers and engagement. If the first change you make works, keep going in that direction. If it doesn’t work for your audience and your brand, try another direction until you see success. And once you’ve got one mistake mastered, move on to the next area.

Before long, you won’t be hiding in the breakroom when your boss comes down the hall. Instead, you’ll be showing graphs and charts of your successes at the next department meeting.



Inside this Article
Mistake #1 – Posting Only Words
Mistake #2 – Not Scheduling Social Media Posts
Mistake #3 – Being Too Professional (aka Really Boring)
Mistake #4 – Publishing Posts When No One Is Listening
Mistake #5 – Talking Only About Yourself
Mistake #6 – Not Paying for Ads
Start Small. Keep Going.
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