Although social media platforms serve as an excellent means to gain prominence in one’s niche and establish long lasting relationships with ardent followers, most organizations fail to comprehend the intricacies of effective social media marketing. While marketing experts and bloggers have been magnanimous in writing about the do’s and Don’ts of social media marketing, the same set of mistakes keeps getting repeated over and over again, with companies, both big and small equally falling prey to the aftermath of these blunders. Let us analyze the ten most common social media marketing mistakes.

Top Ten Social Media Marketing Faux Pas

1.    Lack of Planning: It is nothing but sheer common sense that any form of marketing requires a proper, well-structured plan to generate effective results. But somehow, most organizations tend to overlook this fact when it comes to social media marketing. Your social media marketing plan must have a well defined mission, measurable goals and call to action based on whom you want to target, which platforms your target market segments use the most, what you want communicate with them and how you can strengthen your brand identity.

2.    Expecting instant results: Contrary to the existing myths about the instant success attained through these platforms, the fact is that social media marketing is a long term innings and requires genuine and perseverant efforts. You’ve got to play it slow and steady, but with consistency. There are no shortcuts whatsoever, and if you think that buying followers or creating fake community groups will help you, you are sadly mistaken as it will only damage your reputation.

3.    Outright Self Promotion: Unfortunately, the traditional marketing strategies of outright self-promotion do not work (and rather tend to backfire!) into the social media realm. As hardcore marketers, we must remember that the purpose of social media is to be “social”, interact with and engage your target audience, rather than broadcasting your offerings at the very outset. Therefore, avoid broadcasting, and strive for positive interaction first in order to foster relationships, and then go on to offer your products or services. In the word of Marketing Expert Ben Grossman, “New marketing is about the relationships, not the medium.”

4.    Ignoring Comments: A major blunder committed by several organizations across social media platforms involves not responding to comments, responding too late, or giving a lame, defensive response to negative comments. Most of us try to shield ourselves from criticism by either getting defensive or ignoring negative comments altogether. Any comment, positive or negative, warrants an appropriate response, and not doing so puts forth a very negative impression about you.

5.    Forcing and Auto Posting Messages: Each social media platform has a distinct mode, style and terminology for putting forth messages, be it the # tags, RT, via and @ symbol in the case of twitter or the Newsfeed, timeline and poke used in Facebook, and so on and so forth. Similarly, the user base of each platform is distinct, which requires you to communicate accordingly. Therefore, using a common message for all platforms will only depict your callousness in this regard. Needless to say, if auto posting is a mistake, then forcing messages or spamming over social media is virtually committing suicide!

6.    Not initiating conversations: As the classic saying goes, “Content is the King”, but in case of social media marketing, it goes on to say that “Conversation is the Queen.” Very simply put, social media is a realm where you can touch base with a massive number of people and establish a rapport with them, but it is only possible when there is a two-way communication. As eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has aptly remarked, “We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people.” Not initiating conversations therefore, is a major faux pas.
7.    No diversity of updates: As a social media marketer, your aim should inspire, educate, inform, entertain and engage your end users. Considering that even your competitors are making similar attempts, you need to harness some creativity into your posts and updates in order to retain the interest of your target audience. Monotonous or one-track updates will not help you in this regard.

8.    Inconsistency: While traditional marketing campaigns have timelines and so called “on and off periods” based on several factors, the same is not applicable in case of social media marketing. Consistency is the buzzword here, be it in terms of your posts, updates or replies. For instance, if you have a loyal base of followers on Twitter, they will look forward to reading your tweets more, if they know when to expect them.

9.    Putting up inappropriate offensive or incorrect content: Check and cross check before you post in order to avoid embarrassing or even sometimes catastrophic situations. Hijacking controversial hashtags on twitter or putting up controversial content will only give you negative publicity. Speaking ill about your competition is a complete no-no! Even small spelling and grammar mistakes indicate unprofessionalism, unreliability or incompetence. Delegating social media updates to incompetent, junior staff who do not understand the ethos of the organization is often the reason for these mistakes.

10.    Bad Design: Given the fact that social media platforms are such powerful mediums, your profile needs to be appealing and representative of your brand in terms of logo, background, colors, tag lines, images etc, in order to strengthen your brand image.

Therefore, as opposed to a hundred meter dash or a T-20 cricket match, social media marketing is akin to a marathon or a test match in cricket where slow and steady wins the race! If you have a well structured plan for your social media campaign, and avoid committing the mistakes as elucidated above, positive results are bound to come your way.

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