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Social media is the greatest opportunity for marketing and audience growth we’ve had in the last decade, so it’s no wonder everyone is trying their best to utilize it to their advantage.

And you should absolutely use it, just not in the way you think. Some of the things you’re doing right now aren’t working, and that can have the opposite effect to the one you’d hoped. Here are 12 mistakes you’re making with your social media marketing and what you can do instead.

1. You don’t have a clear strategy

The mistake a lot of small companies make is that they don’t take the time to actually plan out their social media strategy. When you don’t know much about marketing on social media, you may think it’s just a matter of putting out any kind of content, on any platform, and that it will help drive up sales. However, by now you will have discovered that it doesn’t work like that.

What to do instead: Have a think about what you are trying to achieve through social media marketing and then actively plan it out: who you are advertising to, on what platforms, how often, what the content will be, what tone it will have, etc.

2. You’re marketing on the wrong platforms

There’s a lot of talk about “social media”, in general, and we tend to lump all the platforms together, but the truth is that not all platforms are made equal. So, you may very well be posting to the completely wrong platform for the audience you are trying to reach, thus rendering your marketing completely ineffective.

What to do instead: Do a little research into social media platforms and where your ideal audience is most likely to be found. Generally speaking, the younger segment is on Instagram, while the middle-aged and elderly can be found on Facebook. Tailor your approach accordingly.

3. You’re not putting enough effort into your posts

If you thought just posting anything at all is enough…you should know by now that you’re wrong. Not just any old write-up will do, and if you’re not thinking about what you’re posting, you will find that no one is engaging with your posts. Low-effort posting is very obvious.

What to do instead: It’s worth spending the extra resources on presenting something in a fun, exciting, or interesting way, whether it’s a text post, a photograph, or a video, because the audience will appreciate it more, it will get shared, and that will increase engagement.

4. You’re making your posts too obvious or sales-y

An ad used to be allowed to sound like one, but not on social media. If you’re making a post too obvious or selling too hard, your audience is not only going to notice, but you’ll feel the difference in engagement very acutely.

What to do instead: Try to spend more time on making your posts feel more organic. Finding the right way to present something can go a long way and make the difference between a public that is driven to buy and one that is put off and clicks away from your page.

5. You’re not nailing the right tone

Your presence on social media needs to sound right, and sound like your brand. Too many companies are trying to be sassy to appeal to Millennials, and it’s just coming across as try-hard and cringy. The opposite is true, too – when you’re too serious or boring, that’s not exciting enough for social media.

What to do instead: Really think about who your audience is. What you want to do is mimic the general vibe and tone that your ideal customer will be attracted to, whether that’s funny, matter-of-fact, or light-hearted.

6. You’re selling too much, or too often

A lot of companies fail because of this one – your grid is just an endless stream of promotional posts. Even though your social media accounts are there for marketing purposes, that doesn’t mean you should be actively selling at all times.

What to do instead: The best kind of company social media accounts are the ones that look like a regular account, with real posts, more personal ones, interesting facts, funny pictures, etc. That increases engagement and makes marketing posts easier to swallow. No one wants to see marketing post after marketing post on their feed.

7. You don’t have a dedicated social media team

Sure, you’ve got social media pages, but you just manage them yourself. You know, to save money. The problem is that you have no social media training whatsoever, and you’re doing everything wrong without even realizing it.

What to do instead: Hire a social media specialist; they will pay for themselves in a very short amount of time. You see, they will stay on top of your social media presence and they’ve got all the knowledge on how to handle and grow an audience, so all you have to do is enjoy the results.

8. You’re not actively engaging with your audience

Churning out posts is just not enough to maintain an active and healthy level of engagement on your social media page. If you’re not engaging with your followers, that’s why your social media page is a graveyard.

What to do instead: Take the time to reply to all the comments (or as many as you can), thank people for using your services, make posts asking questions and starting conversations, etc. Act more like a person and less like a brand.

9. You’re posting at the wrong time and/or you’re not studying analytics

You can’t just post at any old time – creating a post and immediately publishing it is not the way to go. If you don’t pay attention to the time you’re publishing things, you may be posting for a virtually empty platform, and you’re missing out on views, clicks, and engagement.

What to do instead: Analytics can be extremely enlightening, so use the tools that are at your disposal to figure out when people are online, when they’re viewing your content, and when is the ideal time to post. People’s social media habits differ depending on their age, lifestyle, and time of day, so you need to take everything into account before posting.

10. You’re not scheduling your posts

And speaking of time of posting, if you’re still posting everything manually and only when you remember or you’ve got the time, you are sabotaging yourself. This means that your account is unreliable when it comes to regular posts, and that will hurt your growth.

What to do instead: What you need to do is create a batch of posts ahead of time and schedule them to post at regular intervals, whether that’s every day, three times a week, etc. You can set the date and the time, and your content will go out at peak times, no matter where you are and what you’re doing at that exact moment. Regular content keeps people coming back, so use that to your advantage.

11. You post the same content across different platforms

A very common mistake is to post the same lacklustre content on every platform you’re on. Just copied and pasted, without giving it any more thought. But that’s just filler content and it doesn’t take into account the different culture present on a social media platform, the different segment of the population present on the platform, etc.

What to do instead: Take some time to really study the different platforms you’re on and the type of content that does best on each one. Instagram loves photos, but Facebook does better with text posts and Twitter is great for links. Know what kind of content to post and tweak it accordingly for maximum engagement.

12. You don’t have a crisis plan

If you don’t have a plan in case of a PR crisis, you’re already in trouble. If you’re deleting negative comments and not addressing them, you’re in even bigger trouble. It only takes one unaddressed negative comment or a less-than-calm reply to someone snarky for it to turn into a social media nightmare.

What to do instead: You need to have a procedure in place regarding how to address criticism and negative comments, after how long, have a statement or apology ready in case things go south, etc. The worst thing you can do is stay silent.

Final thoughts

Don’t let basic rookie mistakes hold you back – as long as you are aware of the mistakes you’re making on social media, you are able to fix them. Using a few tips for improving your social media presence can do wonders for your social media marketing.