7 costly social media marketing mistakes

If your online efforts aren’t up to snuff, you might be making one of these common (and avoidable) missteps. Here’s how to change course—or avoid them altogether.

Social media can be a powerful tool for brand promotion and consumer connection, but what happens when buzz goes bad?

Many businesses and marketers have suffered damage from a social media mistake. These gaffes can happen to any organization at any time, especially because social media is still unfamiliar to many.

A marketer or organization might have the best intentions, but too many simply don’t understand how to make the most of a social media presence and platform. As a result, they jump into social media and wind up with a marketing mess. The best way to avoid these fiascos is to be aware of the digital don’ts—before it’s too late.

To help you avoid backlash with your social media marketing, consider these top seven social media mistakes that you can’t afford to make:

1. Assuming social media marketing is free
Joining an online network might itself cost nothing, but an effective social media strategy demands at least a small investment or it will be a waste of time. Because online platforms don’t prioritize business posts in news feeds, these messages are often buried beneath a slew of others. As a result, it’s impossible for marketers to ensure their posts are seen.

It helps to spend a little money to broaden a company’s social media reach and target specific audiences. Even though this might call for a small investment, it’s likely to have a big payoff in online exposure and engagement.

2. Spending time and money on the wrong social platforms
With so many established and emerging social media platforms today, it can be hard to know which channels are best for engaging the target audience. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a business to waste a lot of time and money on the wrong social platforms. This social media mix-up could be due to incorrect audience research or a prior marketing mistake, but it can cost a company a great deal of effort and expense.

To avoid choosing the wrong social media channels, SimplyMeasured.com suggested first conducting research to find out which platforms the target audience prefers. Once these channels have been identified, focus the bulk of your social media marketing on them. In addition, spread marketing messages across a few channels to maximize reach and exposure.

3. Inaccurate or inadequate audience research
One secret of successful businesses is an in-depth understanding of their target audience. Many executives don’t realize that knowing the target audience is just as important in social media. Effective social media is based on crafting content that’s relevant and interesting to the audience. This content will prompt communication and lead to social engagement. That’s why both brands and marketers must make the effort to really get to know their audiences. Know who they are, where they live, what they want, and what they would like from your brand.

Experts agree that the best way to find this information is by conducting audience research. Today, there are many methods available for performing this research with ease. This will accomplish three important goals:

  • It will provide important insight about the best ways to draw, connect and communicate with the audience.
  • It will increase your understanding about how to craft online content that reflects and resonates with your community.
  • It will guide your strategy and ensure that the message and tone of your social media marketing is as effective as possible.

Business2Community.com warned that there may be a major difference between the target audience on social media and the audience for other marketing efforts. That’s why social media should be planned as both a separate entity and a component of the overall marketing strategy.

4. Doing everything on your own
If you think that social media is only for large businesses, think again. Social media platforms can offer big benefits to small businesses. A major mistake small businesses make is trying to handle it themselves, instead of relying on an expert.

Content marketing demands certain skills and specific expertise that most people lack. Digital marketing experts can develop an integrated content marketing solution for a business that includes social media, SEO, PPC and web links. Working with experts will help ensure complete compliance with Google rules and regulations, which can have a major impact on your success.

5. Prioritizing prospects over customers
Too many businesses are so focused on using social media to find new prospects that they completely ignore their established client base. Though generating prospects is an important part of business, a company can’t afford to forget its longstanding customers.

The way to strike a balance between gaining prospects and keeping customers is by prioritizing both. A business should offer special promotions and social media content to attract potential prospects, but it should also develop the same for their customers and followers.

6. Posting too much about business
Too many brands get involved in social media and focus exclusively on sales promotion. It’s vital to understand that social media is just as much about personal connection. If an organization posts only about new products and upcoming sales, it risks of being perceived as pushy and promotional. Sure, social media can raise brand awareness and increase sales, but the main goal of social media should be to build audience relationships.

What are the best ways to approach social media to create enduring relationships? Smart strategies include sharing relevant articles, retweeting interesting content, posting useful information, teaching something new, solving a problem or sharing humorous or meaningful messages. These types of posts must be created and repeated regularly to show the audience that the business has an active online presence and wants to engage in an ongoing dialogue.

7. Not paying attention to audience feedback
The audience is the lifeblood of a business, but too many companies ignore what that audience says or wants. Social media provides the perfect forum for audience feedback, but it’s often ignored, so the company wastes valuable opportunities to improve its overall business, marketing and social media effectiveness.

Monitor all the posted content and track response patterns. This can provide important insights to help a business refine its social media content and overall marketing strategy.

Michael Del Gigante is the president and creative director of MDG Advertising. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

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