We've all had that "oops" moment or two posting to social media. So have businesses. No business wants to be the next viral sensation (in a bad way). With user numbers and business spending rising on social media, it's time to step back and remember some things we all need to avoid.
Here, some social media marketers share their experience on social media mistakes and what it takes to get the most from your social media campaigns:
One and Done Mindset
Gary Galloway, senior product marketing manager at Netsertive, said one of the most common social media marketing mistakes is having a “one and done mindset.” Earlier in his marketing days, Galloway could place ads in a newspaper or on television and generate results. It’s just not that simple anymore, he said.
"Consistency is key, especially knowing that Facebook posts today have an average half-life of 30 minutes," said Galloway, who also teaches digital marketing to students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Marketers need to ensure they’re going beyond organic posts and putting money and resources behind content with special offers or other key information on a regular basis, according to Galloway.
Not Knowing Where Money's Spent
Jason Myers, senior account executive at The Content Factory, learned the hard way that not every channel in social is as straightforward as Facebook, where you can choose your campaign, objectives, budget and carefully select your target audience. You'll get in return "very respectable CPC rates."
With other channels — Twitter and Pinterest specifically, Myers cited — he made the mistake of thinking that they would find a way to spend the budget allotted, even it meant less impressive CPC rates. Too much money was left unspent by these channels, however. "It's frustrating when your quarter ends and you're left with thousands of dollars that (a client) expected you to spend and that you thought would be spent," Myers said.
After trying several different variations, he came to the conclusion that the best method for to use the full budget wisely was to place ads on channels like Twitter and Pinterest early on so that they would end half way through the campaign. "Once I then got my actual 'spent' number vs. what I allotted, I then took the remaining chips and pushed them into Facebook's easier and more productive ads."
Posting 'Intentional Fouls'
These “intentional fouls” can sometimes come at the expense of consumer trust and brand credibility. Brands must evaluate if the risk to reputation is worth a short-term attention stunt, she said.
Not Using LinkedIn and Facebook Groups
David Bailey, CEO of Blu Mint Digital, said these groups have rich audiences that have direct interests with brand products and services. You can't just post anything you want in these groups. Don't be the marketer who directly sells their products by asking other members to read their blog post or buy their product.
"These groups want discussions and answers to questions," Bailey said. "This is where marketers should demonstrate their excellence in their field and offer answers to those raising the questions. This is more likely to gauge trust and recognition. When trust has been gained, then marketers can make a private conversation and only then sell their products/services."
Don't post political point of views as a company if you can help it, said Jennifer Vickery, president and CEO of National Strategies Public Relations. "You’re bound to offend a portion of your audience or customer base which could lead to lack of sales, revenue, etc.," she said.
Blasting Back at Customers
Vickery added that ranting about a poor customer review is just not worth the fight. She remembers one company that took to its social media page to blast a person who left an unfavorable customer review. "We really recommend handling a response professionally and to the individual personally over direct message than blasting as a public message," Vickery said.
Matt Slaymaker, a digital marketer at Folsom Creative, added it can be easy to allow emotion to take control of your mindset when responding to customers from the perspective of a business. When he was a social media intern, he admitted the he would respond to false claims in an unprofessional way. "Over time, I learned how businesses should appropriately handle customer complaints, and have noticed more often, when a business is handling those complaints the wrong way," Slaymaker said. The way a brand responds to customers on social media not only reflects the company culture, but is an important aspect of building long-term customer relationships.
In the end, it is important for a business’s social media manager to understand the tone they want to convey, and the means by which they do it. When a customer shoots back at you (socially), be professional, tactful in return, advises Slaymaker.
Posting Content on the Wrong Account
Caitlin Thayer, project manager and social media strategist at UCSA International, said she's posted content to the wrong account. "I’m often logged into multiple Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and when I’m in a hurry and on-the-go, it’s way too easy to post to the wrong account. Most often it’s not that big of a deal, but at least once, it has caused some serious confusion for the consumers who were following the account," she says.
Thayer keeps it in mind now, making sure she takes her time when posting from her phone to avoid mistakes like US Airways’ screw up in 2014, or Chrysler’s f-bomb in 2011, for example. Mistakes like these can cost businesses millions and damage a brand.
Deploying Broad Hashtags
Blake Mitchell, SEO specialist at TechWyse Internet Marketing, said his biggest mistake was choosing hashtags that were far too broad. The broader the keyword, in general, the less positive the return, he says. "The more niched down you can pick your hashtags, the better your engagement will be," Mitchell said. "It is far better to have six to 10 more niche hashtags than six to 10 broad ones," says Mitchell.
Look for hashtags of the most active users in your audience base for unique hashtags. In addition, you can use this hash tag tool (paid product) to help you out. You plug a keyword in and it spits out some hashtags. Mitchell also recommends this hashtag tool where users can type in a hashtag and quickly browse the other hashtags being used alongside your chosen tag.
Focusing on Likes, Engagement
Former Facebook employee Meg Brunson, now founder and CEO of EIEIO Marketing, said her biggest social marketing mistake was focusing on the number of likes and engagement her Facebook posts were receiving. She would pay for targeted page likes campaigns and pay to boost posts without clear strategy to increase her numbers. "Once I gained a more thorough understanding of how Facebook Advertising works, including how to select the right objective and think long-term with my strategy, I stopped focusing on those publicly visible numbers," Brunson said. She had to recognize that the likes/fans page was completely unrelated to the success she needed to see from my brand."
Focusing on the bottom line brought in more of the conversions her business needed, improved ROI and saw an increase in page likes and engagement rates.
Expecting People to Follow Your Company
A common mistake is expecting people to follow your business on social media just because you're on social media, according to Hailey Vasquez, project manager at Odd Dog Media. Most websites have social links and possibly a casual call-to-action like, "Follow us on social media!" but don't give the customer an actual reason to follow, Vasquez said.
"One of the easiest ways to provide incentive is to offer exclusive content or deals," she said. "Give the customer a reason to want to follow you on social media, an actual benefit. Early access to a sale, discount codes, giveaways, exclusive how-to guides and tips, etc. Keep your social links on your website, but list these benefits clearly in your call-to-action to improve your CTRs, follower counts and engagement."
Not Having Solid Plan for Live Events
Simon Ponder, SEO outreach manager at Image Freedom, recalls when he was asked to run social media for a silent auction during a radiothon for a local nonprofit. He was posting photos of different prizes that could be won during the silent auction portion of the radiothon. However, in his post, he had included the name and phone number of the person with the current winning bid. When he realized, he quickly deleted all of the posts from the day and started over.
"The big lesson here was to have a plan for what you are posting during an event, even if you are asked last minute. Don't just jump in. Take a few minutes to figure out what you are going to post. That minute will save you a massive headache," Ponder said.
Forgetting to Give Credit
Kevin Lindon Ryan won't be making tagging exclusions any time soon. The marketing communications specialist for Humana once reposted a photo of a beautiful living room space with a color-coded bookshelf. He tagged the account from which he got it. A few hours later, several Instagram users commented with the name of the designer who was not tagged. "I was mortified! The designer was someone my client followed, too. I learned that when reposting images, try to get as close to the original source as possible, and tag everyone involved with the photo," Lindon Ryan said.
"It could be a great networking opportunity and a way to gain more traction and engagement with multiple authors tagged," Lindon Ryan added. "When you make a mistake like this, acknowledge it and start a conversation around it."
Waiting Too Long to Spend
Randy Mitchelson, vice president of sales and marketing at iPartnerMedia, says not taking advantage of social media advertising from the get-go was his company's biggest social media mistake. "Had we been bold enough to try social media advertising from the beginning, the ROI would have been much larger, as would our audience. It’s a regret discovered through hindsight, but we’ve learned from it," he shares.
Trusting Yourself, Not Your Audience
Food blogger Katie Moseman said the biggest mistake she made when starting out with social media marketing was to share content that she personally found interesting, rather than sharing what her audience would find interesting. Her audience, she learned, likes fast-paced recipe videos and viral questions, such as "Name a food you had to eat when you were a child, but have never eaten since you were an adult."
How does Moseman know more about her audience? "On Facebook, for example, I use page insights to compare performance between posts over time. In most cases, I need merely to monitor the real-time engagement in order to quickly determine whether a post will succeed—in particular, the number of comments or shares," she says.