6 social media mistakes that communicators are still making

We’ve been at this online networking and branding thing for a while now, yet some persistent sins of omission or commission are hindering people’s and organizations’ success.

It seems as though we have been using social media forever.

Very few of us can remember when we used our phones exclusively for calling. What did we do before texting and uploading photos of our dining choices?

With more than a decade of using social media to communicate personally and professionally, you’d think we would have this thing down. Sadly, we see flagrant missteps everywhere: celebrities posting insensitive remarks, elected officials mass-tweeting into the early morning hours and everyday folks chronicling unconscionable events via Facebook Living.

Given these daily reminders, here’s what many of us are still getting wrong:

1. A one-size-fits-all approach. You must tailor your content to fit each social media platform. You don’t want followers to see the same text for each channel. Come up with several headlines and hashtags you can use.

2. Inappropriate material. So, you’re a funny guy—at least that’s what everyone says—but maybe you’re not that funny. What if your jokes don’t play well beyond your group of friends? Think before you tweet. Remember: Not everyone will be in on the joke. Even professional comedians step on this landmine from time to time. Not everything is joke-worthy. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, yet mere seconds to destroy one.

3. Misdirected energy. Not every plan is a good idea; sometimes effort shouldn’t be put toward a particular creative concept. Many companies get excited and want to start using their newly created social media channels to carpet-bomb their followers. Create your strategy, a content schedule, key roles and responsibilities, and give followers a reason to tune in and participate.

4. Lack of a plan. If your organization wants to create a successful social media strategy, hire a professional. Don’t relegate those duties to some intern who can take pictures and post them to Instagram. Companies have the biggest impact when they use experienced people who have worked in marketing, public relations, customer service or other departments, those who have learned the company culture and history and who know how to tell the story. You get what you pay for.

5. Failure to respond. You must interact. I recently posted to a company’s Facebook page with a question about a new location. It has now been several weeks, and I have yet to receive a response. How can you be social if you are not social? It’s right there in the phrase “social media.” It’s senseless not to respond to your social media channels. Engage, or you’ll get left behind.

6. Scattershot posts. Do you know your target audience? Many companies don’t. Companies should know who their customers are and aren’t. Blindly posting is a waste of time and confuses the followers you have acquired.

If any of these six social media “wrongs” ring a bell, change your strategy. Develop a plan, act upon it, aim wisely, and communicate.

A version of this article first appeared on Williams Group Public Relations.


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