5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes for Businesses to Avoid

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Congratulations! You’ve got mail! That used to be the extent of how much we socialized on the internet. That and the barren landscapes of AOL chatrooms. Social media (and social media marketing for that matter) didn’t exist, and businesses still relied on traditional advertising to reach the masses, even in high tech cities like San Francisco. But that’s not going to fly in today’s digital world of posting, tweeting, vining, and snapping.

We’ve reached the tipping point where it is now essential for businesses to have — and maintain — a social media presence. Yet there is confusion over what makes for the best social media marketing practices. The short answer is that there are no “one size fits all” social media strategies, regardless of what digital marketing click bait headlines proclaim. Consider that social media strategies will be different depending on when businesses joined social media and you’ve got a real puzzle to solve if you truly want to grow the social media presence of your business.

For example, a few years ago you would hit the jackpot if a Facebook page with a high number of followers shared your page and asked their fans to like it. Now Facebook screens for terms like “give this page a like” and so on, which means less people see these types of posts. The point is that social media strategies are constantly evolving, making it difficult for businesses to know which social media marketing strategies to use.

So while we aren’t going to tell you what the golden ticket of social media marketing strategies is, we can tell you what mistakes you can avoid if you want your business to have a successful social media presence. We can even offer you a free digital marketing strategy session. For now, in order from smallest to biggest, we give you the five social media mistakes for businesses to avoid.

5. Not Paying to Play

In the golden era of social media for business — back when few of your competitors were using it and there weren’t obstacles to building followers — businesses didn’t have to pay for advertising as a way to grow their follower base. It didn’t take long for social media platforms to capitalize on the growing number of businesses joining the social media ranks. There are now paid advertising options that will increase your number of followers, get traffic to your website, capture email leads, create post engagement, and more.

Many businesses are disgruntled by the fact that they have to pay to be seen, especially since they’re already paying people to manage their social media accounts. Having to pay to play is the bad news. The good news is that many businesses are seeing high returns on their social media advertising investments. Advertising on social media is a GREAT form of advertising. Unlike print, television, and radio, social media advertising is interactive and you can track the results in real time. Everything is measurable and adjustable and the budget is within your full control.

Of course, the key to advertising on social media is doing it right. It’s worth it to invest in training so that you can learn how to manage your own advertising or hiring a digital marketing company to manage your social media marketing for you. With the tracking and insights built into social media advertising, you’ll immediately know if your ads are successful or total flops. But if you don’t pay to play, you’ll never know, and your business pages will most likely get lost in the sea amongst all the other small-fry social media fishes.

4. Infrequent Posting

Each social media platform has a different purpose and functions as a different tool for your business. Facebook is almost like a second website, Twitter is a way to text to the entire world, and Instagram provides a visually appealing way to showcase your brand. With each of these, the types of posts and the amount of time you spend posting creates an experience for your social media followers, much in the same way as user experience is created on your website.

The negative effect of infrequent posting is that it looks unprofessional. Think of it in relation to social interaction. Infrequent posting makes your business seem like that flakey friend you can never fully rely on. Sure, you like this friend, but you have no desire to invest in them when they clearly aren’t willing to invest in you.

Some social media platforms require more posting than others. It would be quite challenging to produce a witty YouTube video each day, but it’s easy to post on Facebook once or more a day. Assess which platforms your business is using and prioritize the platforms where you get the best results. You can also consult with a digital marketer or request a social media audit if you want to find out if your posting frequency is on the right track.

3. Making Social Media Marketing All About You

Social media marketing contains the word social for a reason. We get it; you’re investing in social media to promote your brand. So, why shouldn’t your social media pages be all about you all the time? Because it’s not going to gain you any friends, at least, not in the long run.

Social media marketing isn’t just about promoting your brand, it’s about connecting with your target audiences. Which means some of the time, you have to make your social media marketing about them. This might mean posting an inspirational quote each week or sharing an article that pertains to your industry. It might mean jumping on the #motivationalmonday hashtag bandwagon on Twitter. Whichever the case, keep the 70/30 rule in mind: only 30% of your posts should directly promote your service or product. The other 70% can be content, videos, images, etc., so long as you’re being social and not promotional.

Another little tip is to act like an extrovert. Create and utilize strategic partnerships, create a buzz with exciting posts, lead your followers in discussions by posting engaging content, and post visually appealing images. Most importantly, be social. Lean on your business contacts, friends, and families to help grow your social media presence, and do the same for them.

2. Being on the Wrong Platforms

Three common errors businesses often make are trying to be on all the social media platforms, not being on enough social media platforms, and being on the wrong social media platforms. Unless you’re open to hiring several new full time staff members to manage a high volume of platforms, don’t try to be on all of them. Choose the ones that best suit your business.

This requires really knowing your target audience. We’ve heard business owners say things like they don’t think Twitter will be useful for them, meanwhile members of their target audience are tweeting like crazy. You don’t need to understand all of the social media platforms (that’s what your digital marketing company is for) but you do need to understand where online your target audience is hanging out. The platforms your target audience is on are the ones your business should be on.

Additionally, choose to be on the platforms that best showcase your business. For example, if your business can easily produce videos, then YouTube or Vine are great fits. If you have a lot of content, Facebook is a perfect way to get it to the masses. Pair your content with great visuals and Pinterest will be your favorite hangout spot. Think of the social media platforms like makeup; use it to highlight your best features.

1. Not Optimizing Social Media Posts

This one is the biggie. Because guess what? Even if you’ve mastered avoiding the other big social media marketing mistakes, none of it will matter if you’re not optimizing your social media posts. The three key takeaways for social media post optimization are: catchy headline, creative description, and stunning visuals or videos that are properly sized for the platform they are on.

The optimal sizes for images and videos are different for each social media platform, and the individual platforms occasionally change these sizes, too, just to keep you on your toes. The same goes for the cover photos and profile photos of your social media pages.

Post optimization may seem a bit frustrating, but it is absolutely mandatory for successful social media marketing. For example, several studies found that colored visuals increase people’s desire to read a piece of content by 80%. And Facebook statistics indicate that a video has to make an impression within the first three seconds or else people keep scrolling. Think of social media posts as if they were ads and design them accordingly.

If you need help learning how to avoid any or all of these social media marketing mistakes, reach out to Colibri Digital Marketing for a free social media marketing session. We’re located in San Francisco, but we have clients all over the world. Let us know how we can put the social in your social media marketing!

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This post was originally written and posted by Jasmine Cabanaw, VP, Production, Colibri Digital Marketing. It is republished here on on behalf of Colibri Digital Marketing. Thanks, Jasmine, for a great read!

I work to make the web a more beautiful, accessible, and functional place. I use dreams as a form of planning. And I play because it’s fun.

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