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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Marketing Experts Report the 9 Worst Social Media Mistakes

    Posted by Jasmine Henry

    Common Social Media Fails

    Time and time again, researchers find that social media is really effective. Small- and medium-sized businesses that design and implement a social strategy are twice as likely to experience revenue growth as their competitors. That being said, it's still a really new phenomenon, and Tweeting the right thing isn't always easy. By all accounts, 2012 was a year when many brands suffered serious backlash following Twitter hashtag or customer service fails. Learn how to ensure you experience growth, not humiliation, in the coming months:

    anum hussain1. Anum Hussain @AnumMedia

    Ignoring Your Followers

    Is your idea of social media scheduling Tweets and Facebook posts a week in advance and checking engagement when you can find the time? It's time to stop viewing social media as a megaphone, and start thinking of it more like a platform for discussion. Writes HubSpot Content Creator and eBook wizard Anum Hussain, "the number one mistake many businesses make is setting up their social media accounts and treating them as a one-way communication platforms."

    heather dugan2. Heather Dugan @HeatherDugan

    Being Execessively Negative

    In the words of photographer and social media expert Heather Dugan, "just because you think you're being clever doesn't mean everyone else does." Snarking on your employer or coworkers can cost you your job. Excessively negative rants against small businesses in your community can damage your network. Keep it positive and focus on praising the achievements of others and exemplary customer service.

    georgina laidlaw3. Georgina Laidlaw @GeorginaLaidlaw

    Not Listening

    Responding directly to mentions of your brand on Twitter isn't enough. Creating a broad strategy for social listening is crucial, according to Georgina Laidlaw of ProBlogger. She recommends developing a list of keywords to track, which can include the names of your competitors and terms crucial to your niche. 

    Rachel Sprung4. Rachel Sprung @RSprung

    Being Anti-Social

    Way back in 2009, Burger King masterminded a social media campaign called "The Whopper Sacrifice." Using the slogan "You Like Your Friends. But You Love the Whopper," entrants were given a coupon for a whopper in exchange for unfriending 10 Facebook friends. Over 82,000 people participated, deleting an estimated 233,906 people. Facebook quickly shut the competition down, citing privacy concerns. According to HubSpot's Brand and Buzz Coordinator, Rachel Sprung, the key mistake on the part of Burger King wasn't just violating Facebook's terms of service. They also erred by encouraging fans to sacrifice their personal relationships, a very anti-social concept. 

    corey eridon5. Corey Eridon @Corey_bos

    Not Being Direct

    If you want your network to engage with your content, don't be afraid to ask. HubSpot's Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella has found that "Please ReTweet" is the 11th most-ReTweeted phrase on Twitter. Asking Facebook users to "Like" your content increases engagement by 216%, according to surveys by Momentus Media. HubSpot Inbound Marketing Manager Corey Eridon states "If you want someone to like, comment, retweet, or watch, just ask."

    Krista Neher6. Krista Neher @KristaNeher

    Show, Don't Tell

    Don't tell people your company is fun and produces remarkable results. Show them with outstanding social media content that ranges from client testimonials to memes to case studies. What are the key differentiating factors between you and competitors? According to Social Media Consultant Krista Neher, "stop telling people what you want them to believe about your business and start showing them."

    michael lebowitz7. Michael Lebowitz @BigSpaceship

    Being Dry All the Time

    Don't be afraid to have a little bit of attitude when it's not too offensive. Social Media Expert and Big Spaceship CEO Michael Lebowitz cited an example in a recent Forbes interview of a fantastic response by Smart Car. When someone Tweeted that they saw a Smart Car totaled by a single pigeon poop, the brand responded with some actual math and an infographic demonstrating it would actually take a little more like 4.5 million pigeon poops to destroy one of their products:

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    Eric Siu8. Eric Siu @EricoSiu

    Thinking that Social Media is a Vacuum

    Even if every one of your prospects was using the same social media channels as your brand, you wouldn't be able to convert customers without a blog, content offers, landing pages and marketing automation. According to Eric Siu, User Growth Lead at Team Treehouse, too many brands make the mistake of investing too heavily in social media when it's really only effective as part of a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy. 

    eric fiegerman9. Seth Fiegerman @SFiegerman

    Ignoring Current Events

    From the NRA to CelebBoutique, many of the year's tackiest hashtag fails were entirely preventable. Social media managers for brands are responsible for keeping a close finger on news items and trending hashtags, and deleting any pre-scheduled Tweets that can suddenly seem tactless in light of current events. In the words of Mashable Contributor Seth Fiegerman, "If there's one lesson to take away from this year's fails, it's that brands need to be particularly careful when it comes to tying a promotion or post to a big, public event."

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    header image credit: Chris Sharp/freedigitalphotos.net
    all other photos credited to featured expert

    Topics: Social Media