Did you make it through the year without making any big social media marketing mistakes that land you on a list like this? Yes? Awesome. If not, luckily, we can learn from the mistakes of others, and use these examples of top social media marketing mistakes in 2017 to learn what to avoid in 2018 and beyond.
Hashtags and All Their Glory
Hashtags are like your crazy Aunt: necessary to be the life of a party, but disastrous if not handled exactly correctly. One of the first things to understand is that hashtags are not always synonymous with keywords. For example, one of the long-tail keyword phrases we’re using in this post is “top social media mistakes,” but when we post this on Twitter, the hashtags used will be more along the lines of #smm and #digitalmarketing. Aside from the SEO vs. SEM considerations, one of the main differences between keywords and hashtags is time: keywords are timeless, hashtags are timely. The former lives on the internet, ready for whenever someone is searching; and the latter lives on social media, which is far more responsive to trends.
The second thing to remember is that a hashtag that’s trending on Twitter may not yield the same results on Instagram (here’s how to use hashtags well on every social network). LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all treat hashtags slightly differently due to privacy settings and in terms of searchability. Thus, all hashtags should be platform-specific.
The third thing to keep in mind with hashtags is always do your research. Some of the worst and most memorable social media mistakes in 2017 could have easily been avoided with just a little bit of time spent exploring who’s using that hashtag and why. If you’re going to jump on the trending topic bandwagon, especially if it’s with an attempt at branded humor, there is no room for error (we’re looking at you, DiGiornio’s and your #WhyIStayed tweet). And even trending hashtags for national holidays could be a swing and a miss (really, Chicken of the Sea, you think your followers need to hear from their favorite tuna supplier about Martin Luther King Day?). Trying too hard to make a trending hashtag work for your brand will almost always be transparent to your followers. Only use #hashtags when they make sense with your #brand and provide #value to the post (spoiler alert: hashtagging here is a great example of hashtag that don’t add value).
Meme Me Up Scotty
Memes can also have negative implications, as Wendy’s found out the hard way in 2017 after tweeting a meme of Pepe the Frog (commonly used by the alt-right). You can avoid such disasters by having multiple people review content – especially potentially controversial content. Yes, yes, we know, taking advantage of a “trending” topic means having a lighting quick response time and review is hard. But, it’s necessary. Also, just because you’re amused with something doesn’t mean your audience will be…a review process will help keep your funny bone in check. That goes for posting your favorite funny cat meme too, even if it’s on-brand and trending.
Your Company is the Company It Keeps
Ignoring the risk of getting involved with social media influencers can land your brand on the ‘fail’ list, too. Especially in a time when celebrity reputations change unexpectedly and misconduct accusations spread like wildfire, jumping into bed with a social media influencer without protection (aka prior research on their affiliations and tendencies) could lead to your brand getting burned. The social media influencers that you associate your company with, as well as their actions, play a large part in your public perception. Some big brands, including Disney and Pepsi, learned this lesson in 2017. Doing your research is crucial here. Don’t just look for number of followers, take more into account than their popularity.
Misusing the tag (@) is another area for common mistakes in social media marketing. Many tags or user handles don’t translate across platforms. Most companies (and people) have a different handle on Facebook than on Instagram or Twitter, and if you tag them incorrectly, you’ll miss out on any of the benefits you may have received from tagging in the first place – and, it’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing. This can be especially difficult if you use a Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) and aren’t cross-checking the tags and are simply copying the same post to multiple networks. You can avoid this by varying your content and adding content well in advance of the scheduled post times so that, whenever possible, at least one other set of eyeballs can proofread, grab proper handles for anyone you’re tagging, and check their associations or recent activity for good measure.
Always, Always, Always Quality Over Quantity
Although some of the biggest social media mistakes stem from a misunderstanding of specific platform techniques, many are simply a result of low quality content. Confusing, poorly-worded, or misspelled posts might not seem like that big of a deal (unless you are the Department of Education and you can’t spell the word “apologies”– *facepalm*), but these simple mistakes can turn your best intentions into major fails.
Social media should always be about quality over quantity: a smaller, engaged audience is much better than a larger audience that does nothing. Post quality is judged from the perspective of the user (what they want to hear vs. what you want to tell) and what actions said consumer is taking on behalf of the brand. Remember that when hiring social media marketers and evaluating social media performance metrics, you should focus on the
ROI in terms of traffic, engagement, leads, and conversions. Posting more often doesn’t necessarily lead to benefits for your brand (as Facebook recognized with their recent algorithm changes, engagement = bae). That also means focusing on the type of content you’re posting, too (goodbye, text posts and hello, video).
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The biggest social media marketing mistake that anyone can make is ignoring the data.
Social media is not about posting and walking away. The data is where the good stuff is. Check your user traffic flow on your website to make sure your social campaigns are backed up by good UX. Utilize UTM codes and Facebook Pixel to track conversions. Actively tracking your social media metrics can give you all sorts of insights into whether your strategy is working or not. Even without access to internal data, you can tell when a social media strategy is definitely working and when it isn’t.
Learn from Others’ Top Social Media Mistakes
The social media marketing fails that we saw from big brands throughout 2017 can act as a great learning tool for your own campaign in 2018. You can avoid ending up on the list of shame by doing your research, proofreading, and being genuine with your audience. Check your hashtags, memes, and user tags; pay attention to the data, and focus on quality over content. No one’s perfect, but with these tips and examples of brand fails, you can avoid the most common mistakes in social media marketing.