January 12, 2021 8 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.

The popularity of social media doesn’t wane anytime soon, so it’s an important part of your overall marketing strategy. According to Statista, an estimated 3.6 billion people worldwide use social media, and that number is expected to increase.

Assuming your target audience is part of that total number of users, you have the option to reach them through the platforms they are already using. At the same time, however, you need to be careful to avoid social media pitfalls along the way.

Start with an honest review of your current marketing strategy to capitalize on the opportunities available to you on social media. By avoiding the following common missteps, you are more likely to reach your audience, build relationships with your followers, and achieve your marketing goals.

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

1. Focus on the number of followers

Followers are important to increase brand awareness, attract leads and reach new customers. However, you can’t just collect pendants like you collect antique teacups or vintage neon signs.

It’s what you do after you get a new follower that matters most. If you gain followers but don’t interact with them, your page won’t gain a lot of traction. A small amount of organic reach that you may initially have when a new follower joins won’t last without proper care.

After all, your followers won’t see your content if you don’t take the time to develop a relationship with them. In return for this “like” or “follow”, they expect you as a brand to make their time on your side worthwhile.

Pro tip: Followers are great, but it’s even better to keep those followers. Make sure you’re posting consistently – and posting content that your audience wants to see (more on that next). Also, answer your followers’ engagements, questions, comments, and customer service issues so they know that there’s a real person behind your brand.

Related: 7 Ways To Get More Engaged Followers On Social Media

2. Posting irrelevant, boring, or promotional content

The content you post for your followers will either keep them coming back again and again or will leave you lost in the void of social media. If your content is unrelated to them, yawns, or overly advertised, your followers will skip it or, worse, not follow you. The more your followers scroll past your content, the more likely it is that your content will not get into newsfeeds.

In other words, just because you have 5,000 followers doesn’t mean all 5,000 will see your content. You need to post content that they want to see so that more of your posts will be seen by not only your followers but also their friends.

Pro tip: Create content that informs, educates, entertains or inspires. About 80% of your content shouldn’t be used for promotional purposes and the other 20% is reserved for your sales, events, and specials.

Essentially, the vast majority of your content should be focused on them, not you. Here are some ideas for content:

  • Owner or team member spotlights: Post a photo and some interesting facts.
  • How-to videos: Tell your followers how to use your products or services.
  • Testimonials: Post a photo of a happy customer with permission and thank them for their business.
  • Community or charity events: Do you partner with a local school or nonprofit? Give them a call with a photo highlighting how you support them.
  • Behind the scenes or throwback photos: what is it like to run your business? How did you come to this? Post a picture to show your audience what’s going on behind the scenes.
  • Influencer Photos: Work with influencers who can share their own experiences with your brand. With this kind of third-party social proof, you can reach completely new followers.

The last point above can be particularly effective. Influencer marketing, in which “normal” people who are not celebrities promote your brand, has exploded as a marketing strategy in recent years.

These influencers are seen as trustworthy and credible, more than promotional content. In an online influencer survey of 18- to 34-year-olds, global communications company Edelman found that 63% of them trust what influencers say about a brand, what the brand says about themselves.

Related: 4 Influencer Marketing Secrets Business Owners Must Know

3. Failure to boost content

The idea that social platforms are free marketing media is an old story at this point. You have to pay to play if you want your followers to see your brand on social media.

Even the best content – while it may bring a minimum of organic reach – doesn’t get the same traction as amplified content. Your followers may see your content first after liking your page. Over time, however, your visibility will decrease unless you advertise.

Pro tip: Set an ad budget so you can improve on the quality content described in number two above. This will ensure that your content gets into newsfeeds and reaches the right audience. You can set parameters for the age, demographics, geographic location and more of your target audience.

You can also create sponsored content that may be more promotional in nature. Think about the different ads you’ll see as you scroll through your feed or view stories on Facebook and Instagram.

This content has the potential to reach new leads. With effective calls-to-action, you can increase website traffic, conversions, and sales.

Related: 3 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Their Social Ad Strategy

4. Sound be deaf

The current year has brought numerous economic, health crisis, social justice and political issues with it. It is important that brands are focused and sensitive to these issues.

Unfortunately, it happens with some brands that they are numb to current events. They send out the same marketing messages that they always made without considering what is actually happening in the world. The timing and wording of their messages do not match what the audience wants to see.

For example, imagine a travel agency inviting followers to book a weekend getaway – at the height of the pandemic. This type of out of context marketing doesn’t fit your followers well.

Pro tip: Your marketing messages need to focus on current events without being offensive or irrelevant. The author Alison Weissbrot of Ad Exchanger, an integrated media and events company, advises staying away from sales-oriented messages when discussing social justice.

The same is true of any kind of world event. When tensions are high and the general mood is gloomy, the last thing your followers need is a brand that is pushing their web hosting service or organic nail polish.

Instead, customize your social media content to address various issues and be a source of help, inclusion, and inspiration. Support your words with actions so your followers know what you stand for – and what you are doing to help your community.

Related: 6 Dull Ads That Got Businesses In Trouble And Damaged Their Brands

5. Do everything yourself

If this is your first time starting a business, you might take care of your social media yourself. However, if you continue to try to create your own social media, take time to focus on other aspects of business management.

When done properly, social media management and marketing requires dedicated resources to handle a wide variety of tasks including:

  • Curate and publish content several times a week.
  • Increase content and create sponsored promotions.
  • Manage the community, i.e. responding to engagements and building brand loyalty.
  • Handling customer service issues or negative online reviews.
  • Keep up with current events.
  • Analysis of the results, definition of KPIs and optimization of the strategy to achieve the goals.

Pro tip: if your budget allows, hire a dedicated social media manager, if not a full team of social media marketers. Some companies outsource the work to an agency or use a combination of internal and external resources.

When you let go of that responsibility, you can focus on growing your business. Plus, when you actually network, develop a sales pipeline, interact within your community, build a Rockstar team, and retain your customers and employees, you’ll have more to discuss on social media.

Avoiding these five common pitfalls will take some effort. However, it also has the potential to help you grow your business significantly. Not only can you avoid becoming irrelevant, but you can also establish yourself as the market leader.