There are endless social media marketing mistakes you can make, but some seem to be more common than others especially for beginners. And most of the mistakes are made with good intentions. Still, these mistakes hurt your success. And more: The lack of achieving the necessary results lets many young entrepreneurs turn away from social media marketing to try their luck in other marketing channels.
That is not necessary. Most of these frustrated entrepreneurs could easily get on the road to success. Often the mistakes are not huge and not expensive to correct. Some simple changes in attitude, activity or a simple refocus may just change everything from no results at all to a growing and lasting audience via social media.
Here are some of the most common social media marketing mistakes we encountered when talking to entrepreneurs and watching their activity in social media – and some ideas about how to easily fix the problem.
1. Trying everything at once
I have seen this mistake often: People, who are new to social media and know not much to nothing about the different networks start being active on each and every network they can find. They try using every content format they ever heard of and think they have to hop on every fancy sounding new marketing train. The results are meager if you can see any. And in their despair and frustration, they get the feeling they are not using enough networks, not doing enough or not trying hard enough.
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And all the time one single network could easily give them more and better results than all the combined effort they make in all the different networks.
Social media marketing is not just signing up and starting to be active in social networks. Apart from the fact that most people, who are starting out have no relevant audience to speak of in any network, you also need to figure out the basics of each network before you can see results.
Getting social media right takes time – not only measured until you can see success but also time in working hours. Sure, once you know what you are doing processes will get more efficient, you can add tools and automation to your daily routine to save time, which you then can use on a new network. But in the beginning, you will have to think twice about almost every step in every network you want to use.
Starting with everything at once will simply result in not getting anything right. Results will not show, and frustration is inevitable.
2. Not getting the basics right first
This mistake comes in many varieties. It may be the missing share buttons on the blog, the utterly broken blog layout, the missing bio or avatar picture on Twitter, the lack of content and no idea where to get content for social media from…
Social Media success rarely comes disconnected from your other activities and web presences.
All online marketing is inter-connected. And especially when you are starting out you need to get the basics right first: The basics are the starting point where you can easily get things right without depending on some results or reactions by people, which might come or might not.
The solution is simple: Before you start hectic activity in every network you can find, get things right on your end first.
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Fill out the profile in every network you sign up for. Upload an avatar picture, which is recognizable and fits the dimension requirements in the network. Make your content shareable and share-worthy. Decide on the content you are going to use in Social Media and where you are going to get it from.
3. Not measuring the right numbers
A while ago I read an article in a German startup magazine. It was a guest post of someone proudly telling the story of how his startup generated a few hundred thousand fans for their Facebook Fanpage via advertising.
And it was the real-life story of a startup wasting thousands of Euros on advertising money for crap.
Because the fans were poorly targeted, mainly inactive and in the end with the Facebook algorithm kicking in, the vast number of inactive fans was hurting their reach on Facebook more than it helped.
Counting Fans or Followers is often the wrong metric to measure marketing success. It may be significant at first to watch if you succeed in gathering an audience – but the hard truth is fans and followers are not going to pay your rent. Even traffic does not, although it is much closer to a sale than a fan or follower.
Metrics need to evolve as your marketing matures. If you found out how to get people to follow you, you then have to figure out how to get these followers to your website or signup for your newsletter – and in the end to buy your product (but there are usually many steps in between).
Do not make the mistake of focusing on a vanity metric like fans or followers for too long and forgetting about where you want to get. Rather move on to the next step on your marketing journey.
4. Expecting too much in a too short time
This is a very common mistake.
Many people expect measurable results in numbers of sales after a few days or weeks. But the hard truth is, while some results in metrics like followers, engagement or traffic should show after a few weeks, the real and huge success of social media is for the persistent with a consistent social media strategy who keeps going for months and years.
If you start out with Social Media Marketing, you may be going for some short term goals.
But you need to be clear about one thing: Real Social Media Marketing success comes after a long time of continuously good work.
It does not help to poke around social media for a few days or weeks and then try something else and poke around there for a short time, just because results did not show fast enough.
5. Not being clear about the short term AND long term goals
Many people start Social Media without a clear goal in mind. That is not helping in any way. How can you decide what actions are going in the right direction if you do not even know which direction you want to take?
You need to be clear about why you are doing Social Media, what results you expect in what time and how you are going to measure if you are getting any closer to reaching your goals.
There are always many options of what to achieve with social media: Is it mainly more brand recognition? Are you looking for visitors to your website or blog (traffic)? Do you want more subscribers to a newsletter? Or are you trying to sell a product?
How do you want Social Media to help you with reaching these goals? What steps may come in between?
Without a clear goal often Social Media activities tend to be uncoordinated and usually will not get you anywhere.
6. Not consider the special requirements of the networks
This is one of the most common mistakes and one of the most crucial to your social media marketing success. It shows in people automatically cross-posting between networks and cluttering their Facebook feed with endless Tweets or pinning to Pinterest without considering the image sizes and ending up posting miniature pictures which no one can read/decipher much less repin or like.
You need to follow the individual requirements of each network: Pinning without a great image is not worth the effort; tweeting to Facebook usually only makes you annoying to your friends and they will either ignore you or even mute you.
There are best practices for each network. Following them will not guarantee you success – but not following them will more or less guarantee your failure.
So, before you start posting to each network you ever heard off, make sure you know how the network works and what best practices are the fundamentals to success for precisely this network.
That includes knowing the right image sizes for each network and the algorithm which decides whether a post is shown to your followers or not for networks like Facebook.
7. Being disappointed/giving up too early
Many first-time social media marketers give up far too early. They expect to see huge results after days and when these don’t show they turn to something else like advertising or PR. And all the time the first measurable success may simply be one post or one tweak to your activity or content away.
This mistake gets even more important when young companies cannot afford to hire an expert and the person starting their social media activities has to learn so much first. Social Media marketing takes time – and learning social media marketing may even take more time. If you expect wonders after days – do not go for social media in the first place, your efforts will most likely be wasted.
8. Comparing yourself to pros
Sometimes as a marketing consultant people ask you: “Have you seen that marketing stunt by Apple last week? We want to do something like that, too.”
And you try to explain to the enthusiastic founder that their halfway finished product is not an iPhone, their Twitter account has about 10 followers, their brand is known to themselves, their best friend and mom and their marketing budget is lacking at least 6 figures compared to Apple’s. No way can they pull off a similar marketing strategy than one of the most famous brands worldwide.
It is even the advice of some marketing professionals that is lacking applicability for the companies and startups that are new to the game. It is a difference if you are starting a blog or if you already have numerous great blog posts and some google traffic. I can do entirely different things with my Twitter account of over 180k followers than a newbie starting out to collect the first handful of followers.
In some way, Social Media is leveling the ground, and a small company can have as much success with Social Media marketing as a huge brand. But your activity has to fit the preconditions. In addition, advice for large corporations usually is not so helpful for a one-man business trying to do marketing on the side without a budget.
The way out is simple: Look for advice for small companies and beginners. Some of this advice is rather found on smaller blogs, where people tell how they made their first steps and what you can learn from them.
9. Overthinking everything
Some people who are new to social media are so afraid of doing something wrong, saying something wrong or not having the perfect graphic or article they never get to being active in social media at all.
I have talked to bloggers who work on the perfect post for ages; they can only publish a post once in a while – but in between their social accounts simply keep silent.
Some people are so in awe of others, or afraid someone might get them wrong they never talk to anyone in social media – and at the end of the day, Social Media is about communication and connection.
You need to overcome your fear of imperfection. Start interacting and start doing. Nothing is worth than doing nothing.
10. Thinking success will come naturally to the ones with the best product or content
This is a misconception that even some of the influencers preach – and it is going to kill many social media marketing strategies. The best content (or product) will not necessarily rise to the top. If you do not have an audience you can have the best content or product, no one will know it. You need to take an active part in telling people about you and your content. That also means distribution is a must and pushing social media growth is more than legitimate.
You do not have to wait until the world ends for people to notice you, your social accounts and whatever value you provide. Go ahead and make people notice you – just keep in mind that spamming and overly promoting will maybe make people know you but not like you. And if you are telling me now, people do not need to like you as long as they buy: In Social Media, most people, who do not like you will not listen long enough to buy from you.
I have had a lot of people telling me it is not ok to push growth in Social Media – let me tell you a secret: Most influencers do push their growth and you can use the same methods to kickstart your social media.
11. Thinking about monetization/selling too early
This is a very common mistake. People read the big success stories of bloggers and social media experts making thousands of dollars from their activity and selling huge numbers of products. They miss the fact that before the money making and the selling usually comes a time of brand, traffic and audience building. And then, only then can you start to think about monetizing your activity.
Starting the wrong way round and trying to sell before you provide value and have an audience is most likely going to fail.
12. Thinking too much about equipment, design, tools and too little about value and content
Especially young tech founders seem to be very focused on up to date technology, design, and highly advanced features. Sometimes less is more.
In Social Media Marketing it is not the blog with the most professional design and most sophisticated features that is going to have the most success – but the one, which provides the most value to their target group. Especially in the beginning when you are starting out and still testing some of your activities, it is often time and money wasted to focus on getting everything perfect.
(Although you should still concentrate on being user-friendly)
13. Thinking everybody can do Social Media
Sometimes I am still surprised how little value companies assign their social media team. And with the decision to start using social media then does not come the decision to hire someone who knows about Social Media. They only assign the job to a clueless intern, a secretary or decide that the marketing or PR people should do it on top of their other tasks.
That may work if they also give these people the necessary time and freedom to learn their new job from the ground up. It will never work if they expect results to come from the first time efforts of a naive and ignorant newbie in a profession which is not only enormously diverse but also evolves continuously and fast.
You do not need to hire an expert; we had better results with newbies, who were eager and willing to learn than with so-called experts, who refused to learn new things and think out of the box.
But the job of social media marketing is a highly complicated profession no one will probably be an expert in every corner of it. It is naive and very frustrating for the people working on it if their bosses simply think their teenage son could do the same job for half the money – which they most likely could not.
Avoid these common social media marketing mistakes
I hope, that by addressing some of the most common mistakes and misconceptions new social media marketers make I can help at least some of you to avoid falling into these traps.
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