5 Fatal Mistakes That Can Kill Any Social Media Marketing Campaign
Social media marketing is a highly rewarding strategy, but it’s also a volatile one. One great post, timed perfectly, could go viral and send thousands of visits and new followers your way. One terrible post, or one lapse in understanding or etiquette, could instantly turn away even your most loyal followers and leave you struggling for a recovery.
Fortunately, few mistakes are capable of throwing your campaign into chaos (just as few great posts are worthy of going viral). Still, it pays to be aware of the fatal mistakes that could compromise your potential growth:
1. Posting Offensive Material. This one should go without saying — I would hope that no social media manager would deliberately post offensive material to their brand’s core audience. Yet still, offensive material is posted regularly, and every once in a while, a brand’s reputation tanks because of it. This usually happens for one of two reasons: one, the post was made mistakenly, or two, the post wasn’t believed to be offensive. Either way, the situation is preventable.
As an example, look at US Airway’s now-infamous tweet back in 2014. In a response to a customer, the brand sent out a pornographic image, not realizing the mistake until an hour later. After the incident, it was discovered that the link was accidentally copied from another follower’s tweet to the brand. The entire incident could have been prevented by a simple round of proofreading, so take this lesson to heart — always have multiple checks and balances in your social media department before any post goes out to the public.
2. Misinterpreting a Trend. Trending topics and hashtags represent viable, sometimes lucrative opportunities for brands on social media. Leveraging the right hashtag at the right moment can put your brand in the limelight — but not always for the right reasons. Using a trend inappropriately can wreck the reputation of your brand, showing that you don’t know what you’re talking about and possibly offending a group of people at the same time.
For example, last year, DiGiorno Pizza thought it was capitalizing on a fun, popular trend when it used the #WhyIStayed hashtag to advertise pizza. The brand didn’t realize the hashtag was being used as a way to raise awareness of domestic violence in the United States. Thousands of angry responders let DiGiorno know their mistake, and despite apologizing immediately upon realizing the error, DiGiorno suffered some lasting damage to their reputation. Simply clicking on the hashtag and reading what it was being used for could have prevented all of it.
3. Paying for Shortcuts. There are tons of shortcuts available for desperate or impatient social media marketers, but as a general rule, any tactic purported to be a shortcut will likely cost you more time than it will save. For example, some social media marketing service providers guarantee a certain number of followers or promise fast results after a relatively short period of time — these should be warning signs that the agency is using black hat or spam-like tactics to get more traffic to your social profiles.
Equally negative are attempts to bolster a social media following by paying for followers in bulk. These are usually fake, spam accounts that won’t add any value to your following (and certainly won’t read your material). Real followers will likely be able to tell that the bulk of your following is unreal, and fake followers don’t generate any real engagement metrics, which hurts your ability to show up organically in social visibility algorithms. As a result, this strategy almost always backfires.
4. Ignoring Feedback. Social media followers are generally vocal about what they like and don’t like. Even if they don’t tell you directly, they’ll let you know through their actions; for example, a well-liked post will likely be shared and commented on many times over, while an unpopular post sits with no reaction whatsoever. These are your greatest clues and greatest strategic directors. If you ignore these indicators, you’ll be dooming your strategy for failure. Pay attention to what types of posts work and which ones don’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly. You’re here to please your audience, and their feedback is the only way you’ll be able to do it.
5. Going Silent. The only thing worse than continuing to post without incorporating feedback is not posting at all. To stay afloat in social media, or to build a gradual audience, you need to post on a consistent basis — Facebook and LinkedIn should see you popping in at least once a day, while faster-paced platforms like Twitter should see multiple posts a day. Without this level of commitment, your followers will quickly forget about you and move on to more active brands. Use the aid of a post scheduler if you don’t have time to check your profiles every day.
Stay aware of these mistakes as you plan, execute, and revise your social media strategy. You’ll note a few common themes here; first, always do your research and think through your posts before posting. Second, always remember your audience. Those two hallmarks alone can help you avoid these mistakes (and other, less grievous offenses along the way). As you grow more familiar and better acquainted with the customs and flow of social media, you’ll gain a sixth sense for what works and what doesn’t, but every move you make should be considered carefully and tailored to your audience. Only then will you chart a pattern of consistent growth as you move forward.