8 Social Media Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Marketing Effort


With 3.5 billion people using social media worldwide, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many brands have joined in.

Brands are doing their best to reach and engage their audience with relevant content,but no one is failproof.

Social media blunders can hurt your marketing efforts, ruin your public image, and cause millions of dollars in loss. This article gathered the most common social media mistakes and blunder you should avoid in your marketing efforts.

1. Failing to Join a Conversation Timely

Social media is full of reactive content. Many brands take their time to address social issues and react to current events. In the meantime, customers support these initiatives and expect brands to state and act on their social missions.

In fact, 71% of US Millennials hope companies will take the lead on social issues they think are important.

Yet, when some brands are trying to speak out on important ongoing events, they seem to face the very same issue – timing. Bad timing is the number one enemy of reactive social media content.

The last thing you want to do is contribute to the conversation a week after it was relevant. It’s almost like coming to a party when everyone has already left.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

To avoid putting yourself in this position, keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending on social media, in the world, and within your community. Identify which social issues are important to your customers and make sure to speak out on them.

Speaking out on social issues timely can help you cultivate customer trust. Join the conversation not because it’s trending or expected from the public. Instead, pick the issue that deeply concerns you and that your brand is ready to take action on.

Here are some great examples of how reactive social media posts should look like. These Instagram posts were shared by Nike, Paper Magazine, and GOAT to support the George Floyd protests against police brutality and systematic racism.

2. Not Having Clear Social Media Guidelines

Not having clear social media guidelines and policies is another mistake that can hurt your marketing efforts. It’s paramount that you have a clear protocol of what can and cannot be posted on your social media accounts.

This tweet is a great example of what can happen if your employees don’t know how to switch to a personal account.

The Justice Department mocked CNN and Melania Trump in clearly unintentional tweet saying “CNN is the biggest troll of them all lmao #Petty”.

It turned out that the Justice Department’s staff member accidentally tweeted this not realizing they didn’t switch to a personal account.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

Instruct your social media team on what is acceptable to post and what is not. Failing to share these rules with your team can ruin not only your social media campaign but also your company’s reputation.

Also, the team members who have access to your business accounts must be instructed on how to use these accounts. This may sound obvious, but even the largest companies continue to blow their social media efforts because their employees were poorly instructed.

JetBlue’s Twitter account is a great example of how to handle your social media professionally.

3. Failing to Adjust Content to Different Social Media Formats

Failing to understand different social media formats is another common mistake that can ruin your social media efforts. This social media blunder is known as cross-posting or sharing the same exact content across different social media platforms or on the same platform multiple times.

Cross-posting saves a lot of time and effort, keeps your accounts active, and makes it easier to share your content.

Yet these are the short-term benefits that will draw you back in the long run because most of the time cross-posting looks careless and unintentional.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

To avoid this social media blunder, customize your messages to fit into the social media format while staying true to your brand’s identity. Since each platform has its unique format, you can’t post identical pieces on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter.

Instead of cross-posting, craft unique content pieces for each platform and post. Creating individual copies may sound like a lot of extra work, but you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

Even the smallest tweak and change of the content type will make a huge difference to your customers.

MAC Cosmetics, a makeup brand, is doing a great job posting unique content on each social media platform. Notice how the content differs, and how they succeeded to create content concerning Instagram’s and Snapchat’s unique formats.

4. Partnering With the Wrong Influencers

Influencers prove to be extremely effective in inspiring trust and promoting products. In fact, 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations when making their purchase decisions.

Partnership with influencers comes with a lot of benefits. Yet, if you partner with the wrong influencer, you can end up with an inauthentic marketing campaign that lacks credibility.

Pepsi’s collaboration with Kendall Jenner is one of the most mortifying examples of an influencer marketing campaign going wrong.

The campaign was heavily criticized for its take on the Black Lives Matter Movement and how Kendall Jenner, who is not exactly known as a BLM activist, alleviates the tension at a protest by handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

Don’t choose an influencer solely because of the number of followers. Make sure that your target audience aligns with the audience of the influencer you choose to partner with. Pay close attention to the values and the character broadcasted by the influencer.

5. Using Social Media for Self-Promotion

Did you know that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day? Imagine escaping to social media for entertainment and seeing even more advertising.

Here’s what many marketers fail to realize – social media users ignore accounts that are full of self-promotional content. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you must market to their needs and interests.

Extra self-promotion typically drives the opposite of what marketers intend to achieve. This social media campaign proves the point.

Cinnabon Banks, a U.S. baked goods company, tweeted a picture of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia made out of cinnamon roll not long after the actress’s death back in 2016.

The campaign was heavily criticized for monetizing Fisher’s death, and shortly after Cinnabon Banks deleted the tweet and released a public apology.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

Instead of selling your products, use social media to create a lifestyle for your brand, a narrative that will engage customers, and deliver actual value. Never use inappropriate events or circumstances for pitching your product.

6. Rushing to Respond to Comments

Rushing to respond to comments is another mistake many brands make as they aim to keep their response time short. What these brands fail to realize is that this approach can seriously harm their public image and customer relations.

Don’t sacrifice the quality of your answers in favor of fast response time. Take a minute and do your research before responding or making any statements online. Make sure you definitely understand the question before rushing to answer.

This Chick-fil-A Twitter fail teaches us a great deal about fast responses. Being an American fast-food chain, Chick-fil-A has fans all over the world.

One of their fans from a city called North Pole in Alaska tweeted “Yall wanna open a Chick-fil-A in North Pole, Alaska? Like everyone wants one”.

Chick-fil-A didn’t hesitate to respond and tweeted that they “have no immediate plans of expanding beyond North America”. What a Chick-fil-A’s social media manager failed to realize is that Alaska is actually a U.S. state (located in North America.)

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

Don’t sacrifice the quality of your answers in favor of fast response time. Take a minute and do your research before responding or making any statements online. Make sure you definitely understand the question before rushing to answer.

7. Accidentally Sharing Misinformation

Misinformation and fake news continue to flood social media platforms. Unfortunately, some brands contribute to the spread of misinformation without intending to do so.

Most of the time, businesses misinform their audience accidentally. And again, this comes back to the fact that someone failed to do their research.

Total Beauty magazine made the news when they tried to cover the Oscars on Twitter. The magazine tweeted “We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it. #Oscars”. Well, it appears that the Total Beauty Magazine staff had no idea about what Oprah Winfrey looks like. They tweeted a picture of Whoopi Goldberg, which sparked controversies as the #OscarsSoWhite movement peaked at the time.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

To avoid making the same mistake, always conduct research and check your sources before you share anything online. Have someone in your team proofread your pieces before they go live.

8. Following the All Publicity Is Good Publicity Principle

When it comes to social media, not all publicity is good publicity. When crafting your social media campaign, you certainly want to drive attention to your brand.

Yet, what many marketers fail to realize is that driving attention isn’t enough. Experts from Ivory Research emphasize that you must aim to drive positive attention.

Let’s take a look at Snapchat’s campaign to avoid making the same mistake. Back in 2018 Snapchat launched a “Would You Rather Game” aiming to increase user engagement through a series of questions.

However, something went wrong as the campaign resulted in enraged users and a $650 million loss. What could possibly lead to such an undesired outcome? The answer is poor marketing. Here’s how Snapchat chose to advertise their new game:

“Would you rather! Slap Rihanna?” Or “Punch Chris Brown?”
The company was criticized for promoting domestic abuse and gained even worse publicity after Rihanna refused to accept Snapchat’s apology.

How to Deal With This Social Media Blunder?

The Snapchat’s example made it very clear that there are exceptions to all publicity is good publicity rule. Your content doesn’t have to be offensive to draw public attention.

The only way to avoid this blunder is by doing proper research before sharing any content. Your content should not be upsetting, insulting, or objectionable to particular groups of people, such as ethnic, sexual, cultural, or religious minorities.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding these social media mistakes and blunders will help you avoid bad publicity. To sum up, here are some key takeaways:

  • Keep track of the ongoing events and state your brand’s opinion timely.
    Create clear social media guidelines and policies for your social media team and anyone who has access to business accounts.
  • Adjust your content to different social media formats without losing your brand’s unique voice.
  • Choose social media influencers who broadcast the same values and target the same audience as your brand does.
  • Don’t use your social media accounts for promotional purposes only.
  • Always do your research and fact check before making any statements online.
  • Don’t use content that may seem offensive or abusive to certain groups of people.

Hopefully, this article helped you avoid common social media mistakes and improve your overall marketing efforts.

About the Author

Alyse Falk is a freelance writer. She handles stories about the latest developments in the field of technology and marketing. Passionate about AI, Alyse has extensive experience writing articles and essays on data-driven analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity, machine learning, and IoT devices. In her spare time, Alyse enjoys reading about all things innovative and in the field of technology. She also enjoys playing tennis and doing yoga on the weekends.


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