~ How to Fix the Top 10 Most Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes ~

Well hello there! I’m Juhli Selby with Sandhi Social Marketing Training. My mission is to help get more positive voices online!

I want to build your confidence so you can navigate the social web with ease and get out there to share your message to help others, and make connections to grow your business. This article is about the ‘Top 10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes’ I still see small business owners making, and how to fix them.

For those who don’t know me yet, I’m based in Victoria, BC, Canada, and have been teaching social media marketing & digital communications skills since 2010. My professional background is in business development (also known as sales), so that’s the approach I take with social media – based on building relationships. Your social marketing should serve your audience AND support your business goals. I share social marketing strategy advice, ‘how to’ videos, and information on changes and new features to help you keep up with the wonderful world of social.

For those of you who like to get the goods up front, here are the top 10 mistakes, and then I will dive into the details of each one.

Mistake #1/ You’re not clear on WHO your ideal audience is

Mistake #2/ You’re not posting consistently on your social media

Mistake #3/ You’re pushing out content, without listening or talking to your audience

Mistake #4/ You’re being too self-promotional (bleck!)

Mistake #5/ You’re on too many social channels & you’re not doing any of them well

Mistake #6/ You’re not tailoring your content to suit the social channel or format – also called ‘cross-posting’

Mistake #7/ Buying followers or fans

Mistake #8/ Delegating your social media marketing without your involvement

Mistake #9/ You have no social media strategy or plan of action

Mistake #10/ Not reviewing or understanding your results on social media

If this has piqued your interest, keep reading for more about the ‘Top 10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes’ and how to fix them!

Subscribe to access the audio version of this article the top 10 social media marketing mistakes for small business owners

Mistake #1/ You’re not clear on WHO your ideal audience is – I know this can be a hard one because you may or may not have figured out who you prefer to work with yet. You’re told you should choose a specific ideal client type – or potentially more than one. You’re told to choose a niche. You may have heard the saying; “If you try to serve everyone, it will resonate with no one.” If you’re not clear on your ideal audience for your business, you’re going to struggle on social media. Let me repeat that:

If you are not clear on your ideal audience for your business, you are going to struggle on social media.

Having clarity about who you want to serve will help you to determine not only which social media channels you should use for your business, but what type of content to share or create to attract them. Here’s a common example… I meet with a Life Coach who says she’s on social media but not getting results. I ask her about who her ideal client is…? She says she works with clients of all ages from anywhere in the world… She’s not sure what to share, so she’s sharing random articles on random content topics, not creating original content, not doing any video, not getting engagement or making connections. She wonders if anyone is even seeing her posts on social media?!? Does this sound familiar? Are you sharing random content on your social media channels, trying to reach ‘everyone’ and wondering why it’s not working?!?

How to fix this mistake: Choose at least one ideal client type (you don’t have to publicly announce it), and ask your audience about their preferences, or research your audience online to better understand them. There are many ways to research, here are a few to help you get started…

A/ If you already have clients… Have personal conversations with your best clients (or you could hire someone to do this for you), or send out a short survey – Ask what their biggest challenges are around your topics or areas of expertise. Ask which social media channels they use most & why? Do they have any favorite online groups on social? (since you would love to meet more people like them) Do they use different social channels for different activities – such as business networking, staying in touch with friends & family, or for consuming content? Ask what type of content they consume most – for example, Do they read articles online? If yes, which publications or blogs do they read? Do they watch videos on YouTube, or do they prefer to watch videos on Facebook? Do they listen to podcasts? Which podcasts do they love & how do they listen? If you send a survey, consider offering an incentive for those who participate – for example, a chance to win a private session or consultation with you. If you’re speaking to a potential client and they found you online, ask if they remember what they typed into Google search to find you, or ask what they would type into search to find you? Write down what they say and use this in your marketing.

B/ If you can find them on social media… Look at their social profiles – What can you learn about them? What types of things do they share? What pages do they like on Facebook? What influencers or companies do they follow on LinkedIn? If they’re on Twitter or Instagram with a public account, which accounts are they following? What can you learn about them from their photos? What are their hobbies? Do they love to garden? read? travel? Do they love to cook? Do they have a dog or cat? Are they parents or grandparents? The idea is to see what you might have in common with your audience. When you want to build relationships, look for common ground. You can’t always talk about what you sell. If you’re a health professional, and you love to cook – and so does your audience – this could be useful for connecting. If you’re a life coach and you and your ideal clients both love to read self-help books, you could write book reviews for them about the latest self-help books.

C/ If you don’t have clients yet, look at the social media accounts of those who already have the audience you want to serve. Look at potential competitors, influencers, and others in your industry or niche. Which social media channels do they use? Where do they have the largest audience? Or where do they get the most engagement? Who’s engaging with them? If you plan to sell online courses for example, look for other experts who sell similar courses to see what you can learn from conversations on their public social media posts or from relevant groups. Facebook groups can be great for this. What questions does the audience ask? What do they want to learn?

D/ Use keyword research tools to see what people are searching for online – around your topic or niche – ‘Answer the Public’ & ‘Ubersuggest’ are free & easy to use tools to find potential keyword ideas.

Once you have an idea of your audience’s interests, you can determine which topics or themes you’ll focus on for your social media. If you have more than one ideal client type – look for common topics or themes that could be of interest to all. For example one recurring theme could be food recipes, OR self-help book reviews. One of your themes can certainly be promoting your products/services/events/etc. BUT you don’t want to promote all the time.

Your themes are not set in stone forever. You can change them as you learn more about your audience and their interests. Having spent many years as a salesperson, I learned that in order to connect with people and build relationships, you need to find common ground – What are your interests? What are your hobbies? What is your professional and life experience? What do you have in common with your audience?

And now on to Mistake #2… I promise most of these will be shorter than that first one!

Mistake #2/ You’re not posting consistently on your social media – Do you struggle with what to share on your social media channels!?! You are not alone!

How to fix this mistake: You need to get clarity on WHO you want to serve (as we just discussed in Mistake #1), and you need to create a content plan. Having some structure will give you the confidence to share consistently. Your plan does not have to be fancy. When creating a content plan you’ll add to the research you already did to learn about your audience, you’ll brainstorm for potential content ideas, and you’ll determine WHAT you want to talk about. This can include sharing your knowledge and experience, answering clients frequently asked questions, sharing your key messages for your business, your values, your stories, and recurring themes or topics that will be helpful or interesting to your ideal audience. And of course you’ll promote your business.

I put together a 1-hour webinar for my friend Steve Dotto that shows you a simple approach for creating a content plan, including a 12-month editorial calendar template that you can copy and use for your business, in a free tool called Trello (trello.com). The cost for the webinar is $10 US – ‘How to Create a Content Plan’ webinar.

How to Create a Content Plan 1 hour Webinar - Juhli Selby presenting for Steve Dotto at DottoTech

When you have a content plan, or clarity on WHAT you want to share, you’ll be more consistent with your social media sharing. You don’t have to post a lot to stay current – even once a week, on each social media channel at a minimum. If you fall off and stop posting for a while don’t worry – you can end your shame, and start posting again anytime. After a few posts you’ll be current again. Consider using a social media scheduling tool, to schedule posts for the future if needed. If you have some budget, consider hiring support for this administrative task.

Posting consistently over time = potential visibility

Mistake #3/ You’re pushing out content, without listening or talking to your audience – Some people don’t have a problem with posting consistently on their social media channels. They share content consistently, but they don’t bother to listen, respond, or proactively engage or talk with anyone. Sharing posts is just one part of managing your social media. Everyone wants more engagement – but you’re not appreciating and building on the engagement you already have. Let me repeat that. You want more engagement – but you’re not appreciating and building on the engagement you already have! If you have people talking to you on your social channels and you don’t respond, not only will they not talk to you in the future, but others can see that you don’t respond, and they won’t bother to talk to you either. It makes it look like you don’t care, or you’re not social media savvy.

How to fix this mistake: If you’re sharing more than once per week on your social media – Post less, and engage more! Make sure you, or your social media assistant know where to check to see if your audience is talking to you on your social channels. For a Facebook page for example this includes watching for; comments on your page posts, posts you’re tagged in or mentioned in, reviews on your page, or private messages sent to your page. For an Instagram account for example, you should watch for comments on your posts, for private messages from your audience, if you’re tagged in a post, and you should check relevant hashtags – including hashtags for your name, your company name, your event name, etc. And if you have a physical location, you should also check to see if people are posting content using your location tag.

Mistake #4/ You’re being too self-promotional (bleck!) – If you promote yourself or your business or what you sell on every single post you share – people will tune you out! They may ‘hide’ your posts from their feed, and you wouldn’t know it, or they could unfriend or unfollow you. Other common self-promo mistakes include;
• Promoting yourself in a Facebook group you just joined – WITHOUT checking the group rules, or taking time to get to know the group first
• Sending unsolicited private messages promoting yourself or your thing without permission or context
• Tagging a whole bunch of people on your social media post to get their attention – when the post doesn’t have anything to do with them (unless they have agreed to this in advance)

How to fix this mistake: Balance your promotional posts, with your non-promotional posts. I call it: “Fun, fun, sell, fun, fun, fun sell”. Share some fun posts, then do a selling post. Some call it the 80/20 rule or 70/30 rule – which is, 70% of the time; Help, educate, provide value, entertain, or share something fun or inspiring, and then 30% of the time sell your stuff! It depends on your business of course, and on what you sell. If you have a well known established, or loved brand, or popular products, you can get away with being more promotional. If no one knows who you are yet, you may want to stick with the 70/30 rule. When you do a salesy post – don’t be shy! Use a direct call to action like: Get in touch to learn more, buy my stuff, join my email list, or sign up for my event!

The typical social media users now uses nearly 7 social media channels

Mistake #5/ You’re on too many social channels & you’re not doing any of them well – Did someone tell you that “You need to be everywhere.” Did you know social media users have an average of 7 social accounts? Which are their favorites? Where do they spend the most time? What’s their favorite channel for networking? Where do they prefer to consume content? Which social channels do YOU enjoy using the most?

How to fix this mistake: If you’re new to social media marketing, or if your time is limited, start with one or two social channels. Get comfortable with these platforms & their features, and use them effectively. Each platform has its own culture and functionality. Or if you already have a bunch of accounts, decide which ones are the most important, and focus your energy there. For the accounts where you are not going to be active, you can share a post to let people know that you’re not active there, and tell them where they can find you, or how to get in touch. You should also remove any social media links from your website, if you don’t plan to be active on those channels.

Mistake #6/ You’re not tailoring your content to suit the social channel or format – also called ‘cross-posting’ – I often get asked: “Can I use one tool to share the same content to all of my social channels at once?” I don’t have a problem with this question, I understand you’re just looking to be as efficient as possible. You can absolutely use some of the same content for all of your social media channels, but you need to tailor the content to suit each channel, because they have different functionality. On Instagram for example, you cannot currently put a clickable link in the caption (or the text part) of a post – you can type a website address but it won’t hyperlink – and people are not going to go to leave the Instagram app, and go to their web browser and type in your website link – so instead – you’ll see the call to action on Instagram ‘Click the link in my bio’ to drive traffic. (bio is short for biography – which is just your ‘about you’ information). The call to action ‘click the link in my bio’ tells people to click on your Instagram username, which takes them to your profile page where your bio is, where they’ll find your website link and that drives traffic. Compare this with other social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter where you can put a clickable link right in the caption to drive traffic to your website or landing page.

On LinkedIn for example, you can share a maximum of 9 photos on one post. On Twitter the maximum video upload length is 2 min and 20 seconds. I saw one brand that used the exact same post tactic on their Facebook page and on their Instagram account – inviting their audience to share a favorite travel photo in the comments of their post – you can do this on Facebook – but you can’t share a photo in a comment on Instagram. Do you see what I’m getting at here? If you don’t understand how to post effectively on the social channels you use, you’ll look clueless, or worse, your content will get ignored.

How to fix this mistake: Understand the features of each social media channel you choose to use, and take the time to optimize your posts to suit each platform, to increase your chance to get noticed, and maximize your opportunity for engagement.

Mistake #7/ Buying followers or fans – I’ve had clients who worked with a social media company in the past, who bought fans for them to make their accounts look better – they thought this would help with ‘social proof’ – For example, your competitors already have 1,000 followers and you have only two hundred followers. The problem is that fake fans will absolutely kill your engagement because of the way social media News Feed algorithms work. Social media algorithms determine which posts show up in your social media feed. When you share a post on your Facebook page for example – it will go out to the News Feeds of some of your followers. If you get some engagement, such as views, clicks, saves, likes, comments, or shares, the algorithm will potentially serve your content to more people, and so on. On the reverse side of this, if your post gets served into the feeds of these fake fans, or people who don’t care about your business, or who may not even look at their News Feed such as fake accounts – and if your post gets zero engagement, it will stop dead in its tracks – it will not get served to any more users. So you struggle to get engagement… it’s an uphill battle from there to get any free, organic reach at all.

How to fix this mistake: Just DON’T DO IT! DO NOT EVER BUY FANS. This includes the bad advice I have heard some social media experts give, to do Facebook ‘like’ ads in countries you don’t serve because it’s cheaper to grow your followers… Yikes! It wrecks your engagement and it may or may not be possible to fix. In some cases you can do some ‘fan cleanup’ – such as deleting spammy Facebook page fans (which can be time consuming), or removing or blocking spammy fans on Instagram or Twitter. In other cases it’s not possible – such as for a LinkedIn company page – which does not allow you to remove or delete followers. You can check your statistics for most social media channels to get some audience information Take a look at your statistics or insights – Does your current online audience on your social media channels reflect who you serve, or who you want to serve?

Just DON’T DO IT! DO NOT EVER BUY FANS.

Mistake #8/ Delegating your social media marketing without your involvement – Here’s a common scenario: I have a business owner come to me and say: “I hired a company to do my social media, but I didn’t get any new business after a year. So I’m back to doing it myself.” One woman I spoke to complained that her social media company was posting generic content to her Facebook page – I asked her – what she was doing to support them??? Did she have a content plan? Was she educating them about her audience, or about her business, or what she has going on in her business? Did she let them know WHO she wants to build relationships with? Was she providing photos or videos for them to share? Or collaborating with them for ideas about what to post? You can’t expect a social media manager or assistant to work miracles on your behalf – especially if you’re not giving them any direction, or any material to work with.

How to fix this mistake: When you’re delegating your social media, it’s your job as the business owner, to understand how social media marketing works. You should be able to tell your social media assistant who you want to build relationships with, which social channels you will use, how often to post on each, and what type of content you will share or create to serve your ideal audience. You should absolutely be open to their ideas & suggestions, but YOU need to give them direction, and you need to educate them about your business. Social media managers, social media assistants, or admin or virtual assistants want to do a good job to help you get more exposure, and more business! They know that if they help get you results, that’s good for their business – you’ll keep working with them, and you’ll give them referrals. Support them so they can help make you look good. Delegate and collaborate!

Mistake #9/ You have no social media strategy or plan of action – If you’re not getting results from your social media marketing, you may be wondering if you’re wasting your time. Are you using the right channels? Are you getting engagement from relevant people? Are you building relationships that are connecting you with opportunity? Are you going through the motions of what you think you’re supposed to do on social, but it’s not getting you anywhere…?

How to fix this mistake: Before you get into the weekly grind of executing your social media tactics, think about HOW your social media marketing activities will support your business & sales goals. Your social media strategy will take into account and build upon: your audience research, as well as your content plan. Commit to spending some time with your trusted business coach, advisor, mentor, marketing professional, accountability partner, mastermind group, or other support team members to put some thought into how to take a strategic approach to your social media.

Some questions to consider for your social media strategy:

➤Are you already connected with people you know, on your social media channels? This includes your professional connections and past or current clients. If you want to get referrals – you need to get connected and stay top of mind with people who know and love you. You can look to see who your current friends or followers are on your social channels. After you meet someone new, is it part of your follow up routine to look for, and connect with them on social? Use social media to compliment your personal networking efforts.
➤Who will do the day to day implementation of your social media? What will you share? (this is where your content plan comes in) Who will do the posting? Who will monitor daily & respond to audience comments or questions? Do you have the time to do some proactive engaging or networking? How much time can you spend per week? If you have a social media assistant or social media manager, are you being realistic with what you expect them to do in the time allowed or budgeted for? One time I sat with a lovely Realtor and her assistant, and the Realtor was telling me the whole list of things that she asked her assistant to do every week. She said, “I’m giving her 3 hours a week to do this.” I looked at her, and politely said, “You need to give her 6 to 10 hours per week for what you’re asking her to do.” The assistant sat there quietly and smiled at me.
➤Are you willing to invest the time and resources to create original content? This will help you grow faster. Or will you add content creation to your social media program in the future? Do you have some budget to promote your original content with ads?
➤When thinking about creating original content, what talents do you have, or what do you enjoy? Are you willing to be on video? Or audio? Do you love to write? Do you enjoy graphic design or video editing? Or are you willing to learn? Who will be responsible for creating content? Or do you have some budget to get support in these areas?
➤Once you draw people in from social media, how will you serve them & nurture relationships? Or what is your relationship nurturing process in your business? (also called your sales funnel – not my favorite term) Once you get people to your website, what do you want them to do? Book a free call? Join your email list to access your freebie? Do you send regular email newsletters? Do you have a sequence of welcome emails set up for new subscribers? Or do you even need to drive them to your website? Can you invite them to join your email list right from social, or invite them to join your Facebook group?
➤& What are your competitors doing on social media!?! Which social channels are they using? Where do they have the most followers? Are they creating original content? Where do they get engagement? (which channels & what type of content get the most engagement?) Do you see an opportunity for how you can serve your audience differently?

Once you determine your social media strategy (or plan of action), along with your content plan, and you set your social media channels up for success, you can confidently dive into your implementation. Your social media strategy is your map of what to do! You can share this information with your social media assistant if you have one, or social media management company. Post consistently, respond promptly, proactively network with relevant people, measure, adjust, and repeat! You should keep track of your ‘wins’ along the way, and review your planning every 3-6 months.

Which leads me to our final top mistake on social…

Mistake #10/ Not reviewing or understanding your results on social media – Are you wondering how long it will take to get results? Or what to measure along the way… What counts as a ‘win’? If you have someone helping with your social, how do you know if they’re doing a good job?

How to fix this mistake: It’s important to understand what’s working or not working, so you can adjust your tactics, and your strategy over time. Since things are always changing, think of your social marketing as an ongoing experiment! Most social channels have at least some built-in analytics – So for every channel you use, learn how to find this information.

If you have been consistently posting, and proactively networking on social – Are you growing your audience and connections, and increasing your engagement over time? (it’s not just about the numbers – but this should trend upward over time) Are you getting engagement on your social channels from relevant connections – such as past, current or potential clients, alliances or referral partners, influencers or other people you want to build relationships with. Are you getting more business from past clients? Are you getting referrals from past clients or from people who know you? Are you getting new inquiries for your products & services? Get in the habit of asking new clients how they found you! Are you getting attendees for your events? Are you making sales!?! Are you connecting with other opportunities that align with your business goals such as opportunities to speak to relevant audiences, or to get interviewed for relevant blogs or podcasts?

Are you inviting your social connections to join your email interest list? Are you getting new email subscribers on a regular basis? Are your email subscribers buying from you when you send out an email that promotes your products or services?

We are just guests on social media channels. Invite your social media audience to join your (owned) email interest list on a regular basis.

If you’re driving traffic from social media to your website, you should also look at your website analytics. How much referral traffic is coming from your social channels? Which channels bring you the most traffic? You can find this information in Google Analytics – a free tool from Google that you can set up for your website.

Phew! That was a lot of information! Thank you for reading this article about the ‘Top 10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes’ Professionals & Small Business Owners are Still Making. If you would like to access the 30 min audio version of this article, I invite you to join my email interest list below to get instant access. Please let me know if you found this information helpful!

If you feel inspired, email me at: juhli[at]sandhisocial[dotcom], or send me a private message on social media – my Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter are the best places to send me a private message – you will find the links at the bottom of this page. I would love to hear your feedback!