18 Social Media Mistakes That Most Marketers Make in 2023

18 Social Media Mistakes That Most Marketers Make in 2023

Today’s customers want to feel connected with their favorite companies, making social media an essential marketing platform for B2B and B2C businesses alike. If you want your social media marketing (SMM) efforts to be successful and deliver the best return on ad spend (ROAS), read on to review 18 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Not starting with multi-platform social media strategy

An SMM plan is much more than just “Post three tweets a day, five days a week.” A good plan sets clear goals, matches tasks to those goals, then assigns metrics by which you’ll measure your success.

Social media can be a waste of time and budget without a focused effort. It’s important that you choose your platforms wisely, leverage integrations to help you corral data and metrics from each, engage a social media pro to keep your messaging on brand, and post with consistency and purpose.

Define the target audiences you’re trying to reach and what platforms they use, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Quora, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, and LinkedIn. Then adopt a multi-platform approach and develop a content strategy for each. This will ultimately help you determine which platforms deliver the best ROAS. Going one by one can take too long, resulting in missed opportunities and increased campaign cost. Use marketing automation tools that streamline tedious, repetitive work, leaving your marketing team free for higher-level activities.

2. Not establishing your KPIs and goals

Launching a campaign without establishing goals and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) is like sailing a ship into open waters without a planned route or a navigation system. Set goals and metrics early in the planning process and design trackable measurable campaigns. Knowing whether or not a campaign is achieving your goals allows you to make adjustments along the way to optimize results.

Common social media marketing KPIs include:

  • Reach KPIs generally include basic measurements such as follower count, which helps you determine if you’re reaching enough people, and click-through rate (CTR). Measure click-throughs for various social media content by assigning a unique urchin traffic monitor (UTM) code to each link.
  • Engagement rate KPIs allow you to measure how people engage with a post, ad, or page. It signifies if the audience is actively connecting with your brand and helps you build relationships with them. Engagement KPIs include comments, replies, shares, retweets, reactions, and likes.
  • Website visits are the first step toward conversion. As mentioned, website visits from different social media platforms and ads on those platforms can be measured using unique UTMs. Once at your website, use tools to track pages viewed, session duration, bounce rate, and more for additional insights.
  • Conversion KPIs are usually the ultimate measurement of social media campaign success. Knowing how many leads from social media end in a sale is essential if generating revenue is the primary goal of your social media activity. Non-revenue-related conversions may also be important metrics, such as signing up for a rewards program or capturing data for lead generation.
  • Customer loyalty KPI tracking is essential to your customer experience program. For example, SMM campaigns enhance customer lifetime value (CLV), helping you consistently connect with the right people versus making brief impressions.

If you need help establishing and tracking KPIs and goals, search for top independent professionals today to meet your needs.  

3. Focusing on vanity metrics

This misleading tactic might cause you to keep using ineffective strategies or fail to pivot your focus because vanity metrics (e.g., likes, views, follows) don’t matter, even though they might paint a rosy picture. Know what you’re measuring and how it’s contributing to your bottom line. Analyzing and reporting vanity metrics doesn’t relate to ROAS or return on investment (ROI) because they don’t ladder back up to the larger business objectives such as generating sales and revenue.

4. Not researching your audience

Knowing your audience is vital in our modern marketplace. It enables you to relate to the audience with the right messaging, voice, and tone. If you miss the mark and appear disconnected from your audience, you can fail to fulfill your marketing objectives. Mistargeted ads and posts are a social media mistake that can do more harm than good and damage your brand’s reputation.

5. Not building out personas

Every target audience consists of buyer personas—representations of your real customers within the served market segment. Market research and data about your existing customers will help you identify personas, including their behavior patterns, motivations, goals, and demographics. You can overlook important audiences if you don’t build out personas, spend money on messages for people uninterested in your brand, and waste resources on mistargeted social media channels.

6. Not being inclusive

Audiences are composed of individuals, many with something unique that makes them who they are. By not being inclusive, you’re limiting your brand’s reach. On the other hand, focusing on inclusivity, embracing diversity, and including people from different backgrounds representing the real world we live in expands your market. Inclusivity in social media campaigns can be as fundamental as having people of various ages and ethnic backgrounds in ad images. Still, layers of diversity extend beyond images alone, including gender identity and spiritual beliefs.

7. Ignoring comments, questions, or posts from customers—especially negative ones

Sometimes, you don’t have to do anything wrong for a social campaign to tank. In fact, sometimes it’s what you don’t do. People use social media platforms to connect and converse. Use your brand’s profiles as a bullhorn—only talking about yourself and never acknowledging interactions—and engagement will drop off. That lack of engagement can have far-reaching effects (i.e., your content won’t be seen) thanks to algorithms designed to show posts from accounts users interact with most.

Acknowledging positive and negative comments shows followers and customers you care and that they are meaningful to you. A survey of 1,000 customers by Sprout Social indicates social media is one of the top channels for consumer complaints. And 54% of the survey participants indicated they use a social media platform to get a response from a business. If you don’t respond, then it appears you don’t care and that they’re not worth your time. In a day and age where customers demand personalized brand experiences,  not caring can lead to loss of customers and revenue.

8. Being too sporadic about when and where you post

We hear you when you say you’re not going to post just for the sake of posting, and that’s spot-on, considering users can block a brand that only posts timeline-crowding fluff. There’s value in waiting to post until you have something relevant to say, but try and spread content across a few posts for more mileage, or create an editorial calendar that gives you topics to talk about on a more consistent basis. Otherwise, a lack of regular engagement may cause your content to not surface in social feeds, thanks to algorithms.

Most social media platforms provide post-scheduling tools, but if you’re using a multi-platform strategy, consider using software that automates posts across channels and analyzes their performance.

When creating your posting plan for different channels, start by identifying content that naturally fits each platform. For instance, photos work well with Instagram, videos on YouTube, and business-oriented blog posts are on-target for LinkedIn. Keep in mind that not all messages should be applied to every platform. For example, Reddit offers a different kind of community engagement than Twitter, which supports short snippets of information and responses. Reddit includes user-driven communities called subreddits that are essentially discussion boards. Users can choose which subreddits and subjects they follow versus following people or an account like on Twitter. Knowing this, the content you develop for your Reddit community would be substantively different than tweets.

9. Being too regular about when and where you post

There’s a flip side to posting frequently. It’s possible to leverage automation too much, making your scheduled posts feel predictable and robotic. Be sure your social media budget includes room to spend time on each platform daily to interact, share content from other accounts, and use relevant current events to your advantage.

Also, make sure you don’t over-post on a channel. You can overwhelm users with content and cause followers to ignore your messages or unfollow you. Instead, be selective about what you're publishing. Embrace quality over quantity. Get as much interaction from a single post as possible versus posting an avalanche of content and losing your audience.

10. Posting with an inconsistent voice or tone

Know who you’re talking to, and craft the right tone for how you speak to them. Social media is all about connecting. So be sure your brand has a clearly defined, consistent personality—and avoid being too salesy in what you post. It can come across as inauthentic and be a real turn-off for followers.

Craft a consistent voice and tone that expresses your brand’s persona and reinforces your brand image. Changing voices and tones can make audiences question the trustworthiness and reliability of your brand. You can, however, cultivate tones that vary slightly based on the content and information provided on social media channels. For example, announcing a new product on Instagram or Facebook could have a different tone from an announcement on LinkedIn, which would likely portray a more business-like brand persona.

Tip: Your voice isn’t just limited to the copy of your posts—it can include the “flavor” of photos and videos you post, too.

11. Posting without proofreading and checking

Some social media foibles are worse than others. You don’t have to go full-on foot-in-mouth to make the wrong impression; sometimes, even a simple typo can require some damage control. Double-check your copy, consider sensitive content from every angle, engage a proofreader, and, when necessary, run certain posts by a legal consultant.

Even the best proofreader can overlook something. Check content multiple times before posting. Look for spelling and punctuation errors. Determine if hashtags used are appropriate for the topic or theme of your post. Check data points for accuracy. Ensure that links work, that UTMs are accurate, that posts use your brand voice, and that they are engaging and relevant to your audience. Lastly, check your post length to ensure it’s within channel guidelines.

Examples of companies who have made social media mistakes

Social media mistakes put you at risk for a viral consumer backlash. So, always proof before posting, and when an error occurs, handle it as quickly as possible. Here are a few examples of social media failures.

  • In 2016, Coca-Cola tweeted a cartoon of Russia as part of its New Year’s marketing campaign. The company erroneously used a map of pre-World War II Russia, which excluded Crimea, a region of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014. It led to outrage and the hashtag #BanCocaCola, forcing the soft drink company to publish an apology and correct the map. Eventually, it settled down, but a quick check to ensure map accuracy would have avoided this situation.
  • UPS tweeted, “If your child addresses a letter to the North Pole, you can leave it with us. We do shredding.” The tweet was deleted, and a UPS spokesperson tried to explain it was an attempt at humor to promote their shredding service. Ultimately, this didn't have a hugely negative impact on UPS, but it highlights how a misstep can impact your brand.
  • When Sunny Co. clothing decided to promote their Pamela swimsuit, they posted an offer on Instagram that promised everyone who reposted and tagged their picture within 24 hours would receive a free $65 swimsuit. It went viral, and the company, unable to keep up with the demand, issued a later post stating they could cap the promotion “due to the viral volume of participants.” To customers, it came off as the company back-peddling on its promise. In a time when building trust and strong relationships with customers is paramount, it’s vital to keep promises and portray truth in marketing.
  • In 2017 Dove posted a Facebook ad showing a woman of color removing her shirt over four panels, but the fourth panel showed a white woman. It created a PR nightmare for the company even though the maker of Dove, Unilever, tried to explain it was meant to show “the diversity of real beauty.” Dove apologized for the ad more than once due to the anger and outrage it caused.
  • Walkers Crisps, a UK-based snack company, developed a social media campaign where customers submitted selfies that appeared next to a video of brand ambassador Gary Linekar to win tickets to a sporting event. Unfortunately, the company didn’t audit the pictures before publishing them, and users posted photos of criminals, serial killers, and dictators versus their selfies.

12. Not integrating your social media marketing across other channels

Do you have a blog, regular promotions, affiliate marketing, or landing pages that you use to drive sales, conversions, and traffic to your site? Cross-pollinate content and marry those efforts with what you’re doing on social. But be sure to tailor the messages and intent with each platform, or it might end up feeling forced or out of place.

Integrating and working cross-functionally with other channels creates an interconnected, unified experience for your audience and makes a positive impression, reinforcing your brand identity. It’s also a cost-effective way to leverage sales opportunities and move potential buyers down the marketing funnel at various touchpoints. Cross-functionality can be as simple as using content you created for a LinkedIn post, such as a downloadable ebook, and posting a link to an appropriate Reddit community, or promoting it on an affiliate website.

13. Not investing in paid social media promotion

Social media marketing can be incredibly valuable to brands, letting you personally connect with customers where they spend the majority of their time online. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s hard to get your content seen on social as a branded page. When you’re working up a budget for your SMM, be sure to leave room for paid promotion, so your more important content gets better engagement when you need it to. When it comes to spending money on paid promotion, however, don’t be tempted to buy followers or pay bots to engage with your content. If you’re authentic and put in the work, engagement and the audience will follow!

Of course, paid social media promotion requires resources and a budget. Budgeting not only helps ensure you will have adequate resources required to support social media marketing and advertising campaigns, but it also helps you keep track of your costs.

Stay the course with a good strategy and the above tips, and you’ll be on the right track to serious SMM ROI.

14. Not Utilizing User-Generated Content (UGC)

UGC is content created by your users and followers and shows a human side of your brand. It includes images, videos, reviews, and text. A considerable part of UGC value is linked to consumer trust. And according to a Turn To Networks study, 90% of consumers say user-generated content influences their buying decision more than any other form of advertising.

UGC is such a powerful marketing tool that many brands run UGC campaigns. For example, Netflix used the title “Stranger Things” in a hashtag to promote the series’ second season. Thousands of people began posting images of stranger things in their daily lives, hashtagging the show’s title that generated close to one million audiences in two weeks for Netflix.

A common use of UGC is posting user reviews on your website or sharing them in social media ads. Or, let’s say you have a brand ambassador that posted a great image using your product on Instagram. Get their permission to share it on your Instagram account to leverage this UGC. Another example is sharing an eye-catching ad a customer posted featuring your brand on their Facebook to your Facebook page. Or leverage the consumer appeal of a clever user-generated TikTok video highlighting your product on your Instagram Reels or YouTube.

15. Not listening to and utilizing your community

The whole idea behind social media is being social, connecting, creating goodwill, interacting with customers and potential customers, and promoting your brand. This requires listening to your audience and gaining valuable consumer insights that occur organically in post replies. Likewise, you can interact to get input on new marketing campaigns and recent events or interface with your community to complete surveys.

Let’s say you own a local chain of bakeries and see many favorable comments about a new cookie you introduced. At the same time, users comment they wish you sold them in prepackaged boxes of cookies. Based on this information, you could try “grab and go” cookie boxes and promote them on your social media platforms. Or, perhaps you own a restaurant, and everyone on social media raves about your special dipping sauce. This may lead you to test the demand for a branded, bottled sauce.

Another example highlights how social media listening can help you proactively improve your product or service quality. You can, for example, use social listening tools to monitor mentions using keyword filters. By doing so, you may be made aware of a glitch and proactively offer a fix before it gets out of hand.

16. Not focusing on the channels that give a higher ROI

It’s fun posting creative photos on Instagram and short videos on TikTok. But if blog posts on LinkedIn produce a significantly higher ROI, why waste money on social media platforms that aren’t delivering results and supporting key business objectives? Instead of over-extending your marketing resource on channels that don’t deliver ROAS, think of what you could accomplish by focusing them on channels that deliver results.

17. Not consistently testing copy, image, and CTAs

With a variety of automated tools available, there’s no need to launch a campaign without testing the content first. For instance, A/B testing allows you to compare different marketing assets to determine which ones deliver the best results. Savvy marketers try different versions of ad copy, images, infographics, and calls to action to determine which ones will help them best reach their goals.

Don’t consider testing a one-time activity at the outset of a marketing campaign. Continual testing helps to ensure your marketing messages remain on target. For instance, suppose you’re running a campaign that’s doing well, then a competitor announces a product upgrade, and you see your social engagement slip. Chances are, you’ll want to modify your marketing assets to highlight your advantages over the competition’s new offering.

18. Not evolving your strategy

Jack Welch, the ex-CEO of General Electric, once said, “Strategy is not a lengthy action plan. It is the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances.” The marketplace, technology, and your competitors are continually changing and evolving. If you don’t grow your strategy, then you may be left behind.

Even social media platforms and technologies change. For example, TikTok, a media app used to create and share videos, launched in 2017 outside China and now has more than 689 million active monthly users worldwide. Sixty-two percent of TikTok users in the U.S. are between 10 and 29 years old. So if your target market is younger Millenials and Generation Z, then paid advertising on TikTok shouldn’t be overlooked. Other social media technology updates include Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels (15-second video clips set to music), YouTube Shorts, Snapchat Filters, and Pinterest has updated boards with new features.


Establishing a social media presence is a must in today’s highly competitive marketplace. But it takes more than merely creating a few accounts and taking a haphazard approach. Treat social media as you would any other valuable marketing channel. Create an umbrella strategy and develop a content plan for each platform. Define best practices, create innovative social media marketing campaigns, and use marketing automation tools to execute, track, and monitor your social media activities. Last but not least, keep your social media presence engaging and energetic.

If your in-house marketing team doesn’t have the bandwidth or the expertise required to launch, manage, and monitor SMM, consider engaging social media marketers through a work marketplace like Upwork.


Projects related to this article:
No items found.

Get This Article as a PDF

For easy printing, reading, and sharing.

Download PDF

Latest articles

X Icon