Picture this: you have your social media image or video uploaded, you add a carefully curated caption, and you click post. You take one last look once it’s live and you see it…a big, bad social media mistake glaring back at you.
The face you make when you realize you’ve made a social media mistake.
Mistakes happen to the best of us, but there are some your business can’t afford to make. Spare yourself from embarrassing or costly social media mishaps using this post to fully understand:
- Social media do’s and don’ts
- What you should avoid on social media
- How to stop social media mistakes from happening
Let’s turn your social media miseries into social media magic!
Social media do’s and don’ts
Before we jump right into giving you a fright with scary social media mistakes, let’s review some simple social media do’s and don’ts:
Do: Tightly align with your other channels
To ensure you’re providing a seamless experience for your followers, you want consistency across your online (and offline) presence.
Make sure your profile pictures are the same across all your social sites by including your favicon or logo and keeping your cover photo consistent across sites. You should also check to ensure your business descriptions are consistent across all your social media profiles.
You also want your social media profiles to be consistent with what you’re sharing across your other marketing channels. For example, your targeted display ads across the web should use the same colors, logos, and fonts that you use in your social media profiles.
This will allow you to grow your following as people who see your business elsewhere online will easily be able to recognize your social media profiles’ posts.
Here’s an example of one business’s display ad versus its Instagram account:
The logo on the bottom left of the display ad above doesn’t fully match the one on this business’s Instagram page. The display ad also doesn’t touch on the main points mentioned in the brand’s bio. Meanwhile, the Instagram page doesn’t include any images of the apparel sold on the display ad. A consumer might be confused seeing this business on and off social media.
Don’t: Hop on a trend just for the sake of it
While it can be tempting to jump on viral social media marketing trends in hopes of increasing your reach, you don’t want to sacrifice your tightly aligned branding in the process. Some trends may not be the best fit for your business’s social media accounts–and that’s okay. It’s better to be strategic about the social media trends you adopt.
Here’s an example of a brand hopping on a trending hashtag without understanding the intent. The trending hashtag was meant for domestic violence awareness, not as a fun conversation starter. This brand had to apologize for its tweet and eventually deleted it.
Do: Promote your business regularly
Coming off as too “pushy” on social media is a valid concern, but many businesses forget to actually share promotional content. While you want to share engaging or educational content for your followers to interact with, it’s also okay to simply toot your own horn with the occasional “sales-y” post.
If you’re afraid of slipping into a habit of posting promotional content too frequently, try sticking with the 4-1-1 rule. This states that for every six posts your social pages have, four of them should be educational, entertaining, or otherwise interesting content for your audience. These four posts could come from your own account or be reposted from other accounts. The other two posts, however, should be accounted for as one “soft” sell and one “hard” sell.
By using the 4-1-1 rule, you can ensure the majority of your content is engaging enough to keep your audience hooked while also regularly promoting your business.
This small business Instagram page has a mix of content that’s both business-focused and fun.
Don’t: Treat it like you would a personal platform
Let’s face it: Most of our experiences on social media stem from our own personal accounts. It can be easy to treat your business’s accounts like you would your personal platforms, but you’ll want to remember to match your post style, tone, and frequency with that of your brand.
It can help to do some target market research to understand what types of posts your audience might prefer that could be different from what you’re used to on your personal accounts.
This type of post could come off as a bit too personal—even for a fitness business account.
15 social media mistakes to never make (and how to avoid them)
Stop these social media mistakes in their tracks before your business falls victim to them with these social media tips:
1. Forgetting your social media goals
We wanted to kick off our list of scary social media mistakes with one that can make or break your online presence. Want to know a surefire way to guarantee you won’t see results from your social media posts? When you have no goals to measure your performance against, you’ll have no idea how to provide structure to your social media progress.
Your social media goals are vital to your business’s digital marketing success, and each post should have a goal assigned to it. That way, your posts have a clear purpose—making it easy for you to brainstorm content. Plus, this helps you make your call-to-actions more precise so that your audience can take action upon seeing your posts.
If you’re struggling to set a series of goals for your social media strategy, try using the SMART method. This ensures that whatever objectives you set out to achieve on your social media posts are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. With the SMART method, you’re making your social media goals easy to understand, track, and achieve.
2. Copy typos
This social media mistake might sound like a given, but it happens more often than you’d think! Typos in your social media landing page copy, post captions, comments, images, and anywhere else are major social media don’ts. This puts forth a sloppy appearance on behalf of your brand as 59% of consumers said they would not buy from a business that had bad spelling and grammar.
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, so don’t beat yourself up if this social media mistake happens to you. However, make every effort to check that your copy is spelled correctly, and is grammatically correct, clear, and concise. When you do have a typo pop up, though, be sure to correct it as soon as possible. Avoiding this social media “don’t” might require taking an extra minute to read back any content for edits. You could even try implementing marketing tools, like Grammarly, to help ensure your drafts are clear of errors.
This example proves that even big brands can fall victim to copy errors.
3. Using the wrong image sizes or video specs
When you put in the effort to create custom social media images or videos, the last thing you want is to see them posted poorly cropped, blurry, or unplayable. However, this particular social media mistake can be a common small business challenge as, sadly, no two platforms have the same creative specification requirements.
Try using tools like Canva to size out your creative assets for social media ahead of time. Also, be sure to save our handy image below to use as a guiding light when creating custom image or video marketing materials for social media:
4. Not using videos
Did you know that businesses that use video on marketing channels like social media get 66% more qualified leads per year and grow revenue nearly 50% faster than businesses that don’t? Plus, video content will be expected from your social audience, as 72% of consumers prefer watching videos to learn about new products or services over any other type of marketing collateral.
It can be tricky to hop on the video bandwagon since most businesses assume it needs to be a full-fledged production. While those types of videos are great if you have the bandwidth and budget to produce them, it’s important to note that videos quickly shot from your phone can be just as effective.
This is one of those cases where some video content is better than no video content. This is especially true as we’re moving towards a more video-based social landscape with the rise of platforms like TikTok and more.
Try starting off small by brainstorming a few quick ideas you could pull off in-house, like employee or customer testimonial videos, behind-the-scenes footage of your business, product demos, and much more.
An example of effectively sharing a customer testimonial video on social media.
Related: Looking for video ideas? We’ve got you covered!
5. Poor editing
With photo and video-based content comes the need for finetuning and edits. As a busy business owner, you probably feel like you don’t have a ton of time to spend editing your social content. However, clean and clear content can make your business stand out in saturated social spaces. For example, over 70% of businesses in the US use Instagram. That increased competition justifies taking a bit more time and resources to ensure you get your social media edits right.
Make your social media editing easier by knowing what to look out for. Here are three main editing buckets you can use when evaluating your social content, along with some questions to ask yourself for each:
- Copy: Are your captions clear, concise, and free of grammatical or spelling errors? Do you clearly call out the action you want your audience to take after seeing your post? Are you using social must-haves like hashtags or emojis?
- Image and video quality: Are your images clear and cropped correctly? Is your video able to load quickly? Are your transitions smooth? Is it the right pixel and file size for your desired platform? Is it easy to watch or understand?
- Branding and purpose: Does your post connect back to your social media goals? Is it clear that the post belongs to your brand? Does the voice, tone, and style of this post align with your brand?
If you find your editing is on the heavier side, that may be a sign that you should work with a marketing partner to help you avoid this social media “don’t.”
This brand portrays itself as a family-friendly restaurant, but the language in this Tweet is anything but that. It doesn’t align well with who they might be targeting across other channels, and it comes off as offensive and in poor taste. A quick editing session for quality assurance could have caught this.
6. Straying from your brand style
Congratulations! You’re finally bringing new potential customers to your social media pages. But when they arrive at your profile, they’re confused and unsure if it’s really your business that they’re about to follow.
Falling victim to a fake profile is something most of your followers have likely dealt with before. For example, Facebook reported up to 2.2 billion fake accounts in just the past couple of years. With stats like that, there’s no question that your audience will be on high alert for bots and fake profiles floating around social networks.
The easiest way to make your brand appear unconvincing? By not sticking to what your audience might know and recognize!
Avoid this by including your business’s logo in your profile, keeping your images aligned with brand colors, and using an authentic voice and tone so as to not come off as “spammy” or “sales-y.”
While this small business Instagram page does use a logo, it only has five posts and none of them include photos or videos of their finished pieces—this could make a consumer weary of whether it’s really the correct business account.
7. Ignoring tags, mentions, and messages
Have you ever tried to give someone a high-five only to have them leave you hanging? How embarrassing! That’s the same feeling your followers get when they tag, mention, or direct message your business only for you to ghost them in response. Plus, staying on top of social buzz about your business means you can be part of the conversation, and you can control your business’s social narrative as it evolves.
Assigning just a few minutes per day or every other day to check in on all your notifications and inboxes is a simple way to avoid this social media mistake.
In this example, ClickUp saw its brand name being mentioned on Twitter and effectively joined the conversation. Asana, on the other hand, missed out on the opportunity to do the same!
8. Posting too little or too often
A consistent posting schedule is key to social media success. For example, when you post too little, your pages may as well be playing cricket sounds. Your brand will seem unexciting—making your audience think you’re unworthy of a follow. Meanwhile, posting too often can fatigue your audience. It’s best to strike a balance for a posting frequency that’s just right—which will be different for each platform. Try checking out these resources to find out the best times to post, like:
- The best times to post on social media for small businesses
- The best times to post on Instagram
- The best times to post on TikTok
If you’re struggling to come up with content and stay consistent, try implementing our free marketing calendar and use our post ideas for social media holidays to fill in any social media gaps you may have.
A marketing calendar like this can help you manage your post consistency.
9. Posting the same thing across all platforms
Different social media platforms means different audiences, messaging, and post formats. Many of your loyal customers may be following you across multiple social media platforms, so saying the same thing over and over again on each one will give your audience a poor impression of your brand.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for your posts on every platform. Simply take your main marketing message and tweak the content slightly to create variations fitting for your different social media accounts.
For example, if you’re promoting a limited-time offer, you might do a text-based post about it on Facebook, a shorter version of that same post for Twitter, and a quick video with varying captions for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Adjusting your content to meet audience expectations across platforms takes practice, so be sure to use reporting tools to track your post progress on each account. With that data, you’ll learn what types of messaging resonate best over time.
This small business is promoting the same event on Facebook and Instagram. However, you can see from the bottom image that it used a much more concise caption on Instagram to better fit that platform’s caption style.
10. Being afraid to try a variety of placements or post types
It’s no secret that social media has evolved quite a bit since its rise in popularity. For example, Instagram started as a platform to just post stagnant photos, but now there are multiple post and placement types like Instagram Reels, Stories, and more. While it can be tempting to stick to what you’re familiar with, the introduction of various post types is the perfect opportunity to get seen in more places, like the Instagram Explore page.
If you’re unsure how to best execute a trendy new post type, like a Live story, try checking out what other accounts in your industry have done for that specific format to get inspiration.
Another option would be to lean into influencer marketing and pay a socially savvy professional to create a new type of promotional post for your business. There are many micro-influencers out there that have reasonable fees for small businesses, so don’t be afraid to reach out and create a lasting partnership for ongoing social success.
Instead of creating an Instagram Reel themselves, the brand in this example paid this influencer to create one for them.
11. Not reposting content from others enough
No conversation should be one-sided. Your followers want to hear from you, but they also want to contribute to your social media activity, and they want to hear from others too. When you’re the only one posting content to your social media accounts, you can slide into the habit of hitting the same type of post repeatedly. Eventually, your followers will get tired of your content.
Give your audience a fresh perspective by reposting content from other businesses, creators, or even customers.
This brand’s Instagram page reposted user-generated content to add a fresh twist to its feed.
Related: Get tips for user-generated content to build your social presence.
12. Not rewarding your audience for interacting with you
To drive social media engagement, you likely often ask your followers to comment on your posts, tag your business in Stories, direct message you, and more. However, you’ll find that your followers aren’t going to interact with your business without knowing what’s in it for them.
Incentivize your followers to comment or tag back to your business by turning your engagement posts into social media contests or giveaways. Additionally, show your appreciation for any engagement you get by responding to all comments and reposting any tags you get.
This small business owner gave her customer a shoutout and tagged her on her page in return for her willingness to be in this video post.
13. Buying followers
You read that right. Buying fake followers is, unfortunately, something that’s possible on social media. As a small business in a niche market, this might be a tempting option when your social media growth feels slow. However, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid this social media mistake at all costs because your real followers will catch on. Basically, buying followers is a social media mistake that simply never works and ruins your business’s reputation—not to mention it could get your account shut down by going against platform policies!
There are tell-tale signs that people can catch onto with this, like when your number of post likes and comments is unreasonably low for the number of followers you have. It can be a major waste of money, too, as you can imagine the business’s that “promise” followers are likely not the most ethically sound (in other words, they’re frequent scammers).
Instead of buying followers, check out resources like our post on how to grow your Instagram following fast. Focus on the quality of your followers, not quantity, by building relationships with your customers on social media.
Lastly, if you have marketing budget you want to put towards your social media accounts, use it for social advertising. Options like Facebook advertising, Snapchat advertising, and more can help you increase your reach to new audiences—which can result in more followers without sacrificing your company’s core values.
14. Not being flexible with your budget
When you keep your social media advertising budget rigid, you limit your results. Your social media advertising performance is likely going to ebb and flow, so your budget should be able to adjust accordingly.
For example, if you strike gold with a new target market, you don’t want to hold out on adding budget to help you achieve an even better marketing ROI in the long run. On the other hand, if you feel a specific campaign has seen slow and steady results, that may be an indicator to reallocate some of its budget to more effective social advertising strategies.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how much budget you put towards your social ads as every business’s specific situation is different. However, it’s a major social media mistake to think you need to stick with a set budget. Instead, try reevaluating your budget monthly or quarterly to see how you can adjust or move around your funds in response to your social media metrics.
Our free marketing planning template can help you set up your social media budget for success.
15. Not leveraging retargeting
Falling victim to this last social media mistake means you’re missing out on a strategy that your competitors are most likely using as 70% of businesses choose to implement social retargeting. Social retargeting is a great strategy to increase engagement by leveraging an audience that’s already familiar with your brand. Plus, it can help turn prospects into customers.
Skip these social media mistakes for scary-good results
Between social media do’s and don’ts, plus social media mistakes, there are many things you now know to watch out for when marketing or advertising on this channel. Many of these spook-worthy social media mistakes require an easy fix, so don’t be afraid to take an extra second to think before you hit post!
To recap, here are our top four social media do’s and don’ts:
- Do: Tightly align with your other channels
- Don’t: Hop on a trend just for the sake of it
- Do: Promote your business regularly
- Don’t: Treat your brand account like a personal platform
And, here are the 15 social media mistakes you never want to make:
- Forgetting your social media goals
- Copy typos
- Using the wrong image sizes or video specs
- Not using videos
- Poor editing
- Straying from your brand style
- Ignoring tags, mentions, and messages
- Posting too little or too often
- Posting the same thing across all platforms
- Being afraid to try a variety of placements or post types
- Not reposting content from others enough
- Not rewarding your audience for interacting with you
- Buying followers
- Not being flexible with your budget
- Not leveraging social ad retargeting