Common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

22 August 2018 4 min read
Common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

Digital Communications Manager Catie identifies areas for brands to up their game on social media.

Ask my parents what I do and they’ll probably say I just sit on social media all day. This is partly true – it is my job after all – but I'm not scrolling mindlessly, absorbing photo-after-photo of brunch and holiday snaps. If you’re a writer, you read things differently. If you’re a designer, you see things differently and if you’re a social media professional, every post is critiqued in a different way. What’s the post format, the caption, the call to action? Have they done something interesting that I can take inspiration from for one of my clients, or would I have done it differently? There are a few mistakes I see quite often.

1. Inconsistency 

You don't need to be posting multiple times a day on every social media channel if it’s not relevant for your brand and marketing strategy. But, it’s better to post three times a week, every week, rather than three times in one morning and not again for a fortnight. If social media is managed in-house as a small part of someone’s role, towards the bottom of the to-do list, it can often get forgotten and there’s the pressure of thinking: what on earth can I post today?

Planning and scheduling are essential for any company active on social media – big or small. Create a calendar of content on Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel or anything that works for you (even if it’s just headline themes) and use a scheduling tool such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, Falcon or Facebook native scheduling and Tweetdeck to streamline your publishing process. If you know you’re out of office for a week, scheduling content in advance will mean it’s sorted and stress-free.

2. Being too corporate – or not corporate enough!

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in and whether your audience is B2B or B2C. Tactics, messaging and channels will be different, but all social media activity is human-to-human. Whether you’re a food/fashion outlet, a pharmaceutical manufacturer or a business offering financial services, you can still show a bit of personality.

On the other end of that spectrum, however, are companies who use social media channels in the same way that personal channels are used. Show thought leadership and have an opinion about your industry, yes, but political persuasions and tit-for-tat disagreements with customers or competitors don’t ever belong.

3. Worrying about perfection

What’s worse than doing something wrong on social media? Doing nothing at all! Okay – tread carefully around potential crises, but if the person or team in charge of your social media have a bit of common sense there shouldn’t be any major issues. Recently a client mentioned to me that they were nervous about posting a staff engagement initiative on LinkedIn because a competitor does something bigger and better. My comeback was that if a potential recruit is using LinkedIn to gauge company culture, it looks like the client in question doesn’t do anything at all. And, in fact, the ‘smaller’ initiative got more staff involved despite being less showy – you just need to position it in the right way.

Video’s a big one at the moment too, and you don’t need a full production studio to create engaging content for social media. Or, rather, if you’re not a big corporation with deep pockets, don’t let that hold you back. A few little tricks and tips will make content filmed on a mobile phone look clean and professional – but that’s an insight in itself.

4. Not saying what you do

You make a social media profile, you post a couple of times about your products or services and pepper it with a few shots of the impressive view from the window or the office dog. Your company might have lots of charity bake sales or share lots of relevant third-party content like industry news or engaging with stakeholders, which is great. But this should enrich your regular activity and it’s surprising that some companies forget to talk about what they actually do day-to-day.

You don’t want to be overly salesy, but also it’s good to give information about your services, the issues they’ll help people to overcome and examples of how you’ve benefited others on an ongoing basis.

5. So-called ‘best practice’

As much as I’ve just written a few hundred words about what not to do, there are too many supposed ‘rules’ on social media which often aren’t applicable, contradict each other or aren’t right in the first place. When people are unsure about something, they want to be told exactly what to do and therefore can’t be held accountable when it goes wrong. ‘But I read on the internet that short-form content gets better engagement than long-form content!’ they refute as engagement hasn’t picked up despite a new strategy. I’ve said this before, and I stand by it:

If what you’re trying to say is fairly straightforward or visual, keep it concise and let an image or two do the talking – don’t drag it out longer than it needs to be. If you’ve got something detailed to explain, however, don’t feel obliged to say it in under 10 seconds or under 50 words (character counts and video capping excluded) if it means you’ll miss all the interesting bits that will provide true insight to your customers. Yes, people have a fairly short attention span and you need to capture it quickly, but they also engage with things that have depth and meaning. Exhibit A – you’ve read this far, haven’t you?

Social media isn’t an exact science and while that makes some people nervous, it’s what makes it fun. There are so many different ways to use social media as a brand and the best thing to do is experiment and see what works for you. Or, get in touch with Mobas and we’ll do the legwork to transform your social media opportunity into success with a full suite of social media marketing services.

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