10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Brand

Human beings are prone to mistakes. It’s just a fact of life. But in these mistakes are valuable lessons that others can pick up to avoid making them. So, until super-cognitive robots replace digital marketers and community managers, the social media world will see erring brands. Be assured, though; it’s just as human to learn...

Human beings are prone to mistakes.

It’s just a fact of life. But in these mistakes are valuable lessons that others can pick up to avoid making them. So, until super-cognitive robots replace digital marketers and community managers, the social media world will see erring brands. Be assured, though; it’s just as human to learn from these mistakes.

Now, if history has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can make them. Some of the biggest global companies, powered by layers of marketing innovation and branding experience, have dealt with dire results. Here’s how it has adversely affected their business.

  • Significant drop in impression and engagement rates
  • Reduced customer loyalty and advocacy
  • Increased negative attention and troll attacks

Costly blunders made by popular brands

A big-time McMistake

McDonald’s encourages customers to use the hashtag #McDStories to talk about how awesome they are, as part of their social media strategy. But customers decide to hijack the hashtag and share their worst experiences. It is what the kids, these days refer to as “epic fail.”           

Cold shrugs, no hugs

Here’s Huggies making amends.

Huggies hopes to attract more customers. So, they poke fun at dads for being naturally unsuitable to help babies wear diapers. But customers call them out for being sexist. And the company faces the repercussions of one of its most prominent social media mistakes.

Echo to Amazonian scream

Amazon wants customers to think its Echo product looks neat and puts out a 4-minute ad that focuses too much on the design. But customers think it looks creepy, and they trash it. Amazon ended up creating a parody version that went viral to make sure they were back in the good books of customers.

The mother of all social media marketing mistakes to avoid

Another problem is that you can make content marketing mistakes in a social network that go unnoticed at first. But you feel the long-term impact. These are hidden mistakes that can hinder your progress on social media platforms, without realizing what happened.

So, if you have ever asked yourself the below questions, there’s a good chance that you have made a few social media guffaws.

  1. Why are my competitors performing better in social media marketing?
  2. Why are my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages not as popular as LinkedIn?
  3. Why is there a steady drop in followers count?
  4. Why are so many bots following me?
  5. Forget going viral, why am I not even getting more than 100 likes?

When you say it, it’s marketing. When they say it, it’s social proof – Andy Crestodina

The human side of social media marketers is what causes them to commit errors. Thankfully, it’s the very part that makes them supremely capable of never doing it again. But how do you where you are going wrong – if you aren’t sure of just how wrong it can go?

Here are the five biggest social mistakes that you should look to avoid.

Mistake 1: All guns blazing, without a strategy

Imagine if your favorite Netflix show had started with Season 4 instead of Season 1. You may still think some of it looks cool, and maybe you relate to one of the characters. But the chances are that you’re left scratching your head and wondering what’s happening.

Social media users feel the same way when companies approach them with a clear-cut communication plan in place. Like how you roll out products or services, you need to set measurable metrics, follow up on performance, and test what works and what doesn’t.

What you need to get first

  • Defined short-term and long-term goals
  • Consistent content marketing tactics
  • Investment of time, money, and a little bit of patience
  • Dedicated marketers who are passionate about social media (even if it’s just one)

Follow these steps to formulate a social media plan

  1. Spend time with primary stakeholders to understand brand mission and vision
  2. Conduct market and competitor research to understand existing trends and patterns
  3. Revisit customer service feedback to check if any of those concerns can be addressed
  4. Create a social media platform-specific content marketing calendar

It is probably the most challenging mistake to overcome because it sets the pace for your brand’s social media results. It can be the first and last mistake you make. Unless you have social media marketing veterans or ridiculously priced tools, navigating your way through step one can be a tough nut to crack.

Of course, there’s a door number three. Social Animal, in a nutshell, can be the Swiss army knife of your social media marketing strategy. With our AI-powered intelligence and analytical prowess, your first step can be a quantum leap into social media nirvana.

How Social Animal can boost your Facebook marketing effectiveness

By giving you all the data-rich insights, backed by proven expertise, Social Animal empowers you to devise an ROI-focused strategy in any social network.

Dynamic Keyword and Page Search: Explore and track millions of pages and billions of posts based on specific inputs and results

Analysis and Discovery: Understand customer sentiments and unearth hidden insights on what interests and excites users about your business

Post Scheduling: Know when to post the right content at the right time in a way that attracts the number of meaningful engagements

Spy on your competitors on Facebook

Take a peek into their strategies & posting schedules!

Mistake 2: Who do you think you’re talking to?

Knowing your target audience is a crucial step in the social media journey. The fact that many have entered the social media world, without fully understanding their potential customers, have made this one of the common social media marketing mistakes.

If you convey the right message to the wrong audience, this can happen:

  • Alienate new social media users by addressing the wrong pain points
  • Annoy existing customers by creating a different tone of language
  • Create negative publicity by sounding ‘out of touch’
  • Cause poor channel performance because of lack of unified messaging

While building the profile of your target audience, here are a few essential factors to consider.

  • Age, gender, and geography
  • Income group
  • Frequently used social media platform
  • Level of purchasing power
  • Type of core values

Remember that if you are lucky, you may already know the age group, buying habits, browsing patterns, and other customers’ granular details. It helps you paint a reasonably accurate picture of the typical social media user that your brand should be targeting. But if your social media content is not contextual and relevant, it will lose their attention and, in some cases, lead to business-critical content marketing fails.

Mistake 3: Quick to panic during a time of crisis

A bad social media call isn’t the only thing that happens when humans are involved. Huge blunders that snowball into mammoth marketing crises are known to happen too. Irrespective of whose fault, it is probably the worst time for a social media marketer to take a backseat.

Sometimes, it may be just single negative feedback. Remember what happened during the doomed Fyre Festival in 2017? A single sandwich tweet smashed open the floodgates on the whole controversy.

Let’s face it. Criticism is real because social media marketing issues are real. Unless you deal with it immediately, it may end up blowing up into epic proportions that can spell doom.

How to deal with negative feedback on social media

  • Don’t ignore or delete comments and mentions
  • Engage as early as possible before customers start assuming your stance
  • Be authentic and human while addressing your social media mistake
  • Create a communication protocol to deal with the crisis, with ownership roles
  • Make FAQ pages a repository for myth busters

Mistake 4: More ‘media’ than ‘social’

There is an adage that says that everybody wants to be a rock star, but nobody wants to practice guitar lessons. Many social media marketers focus so much on the media that they forget that they must be social. It is why the lack of human engagement is high on the list of common social media marketing mistakes.

Ironically, increased social engagement is a popular content marketing KPI in any worthwhile social network, but when it comes to talking to audiences – brands tend to forget it.

If you treat your social media platforms as merely content publishing machines, your business will sound like a robot, a cyborg, or maybe a Ted Talk speaker. If your audience wants to hear from Ted, they will probably subscribe to his YouTube channel. Since they are following you, they must get a dosage of your unique personality. Otherwise, they will find very few reasons to feel engaged in your social media updates.

What your brand can do to be more human

  • Don’t sound too corporate and boring – make your content quirky, witty, and genuinely empathetic
  • Let your existing customers advocate your brand through testimonials, contests, etc.
  • Interact with users through comments – good, bad, or justifiably nasty – that are directed to your brand on social media
  • Make sure to engage with comments on your feed, outside your community, which makes you sound more open to conversations
  • Get followers who real people, and not farm-fresh bots who add zero value to your credibility at second glance

Mistake 5: Always be selling non-stop

Your social media users realize that you’re there to establish or enhance your brand image, which includes promoting your products and services and offering customer service. Unless your business purely thrives on vanity results such as the number of manufactured likes and shares, at some point, you will look to publish content about your products, solutions, or services. But here’s a deadly social media marketing mistake.


Quantity doesn’t take precedence over the quality of social media. You may update your platforms several times a day, but it won’t boost your image if all you do is sell, sell, and sell some more. It can hurt your social media brand because your audience will treat you like they do a door-to-door salesperson.

So, you must focus on other exciting conversations you can weave around the industry.

How you can stop selling and start socializing:

  • Be an industry thought leader by sharing authoritative and engaging social media content
  • Get topical by positively contributing to a trending topic that may be a shared interest or a social empowerment initiative
  • Introduce the people behind your brand – let them talk about their vision, passions, and opinions

Five more common social media marketing mistakes to avoid

Mistake 6

Engaging in personal attacks against individuals or other companies is always bad for business. Don’t get personal or sound toxic during any social media interactions.

Handle the situation calmly by ignoring any conversations that are not related to you and avoiding the usage of inflammatory content in response to attacks.

Mistake 7

Treating social media like a service ticketing system is older than old school. Go beyond outdated reactive customer service to deliver proactive customer experiences.

Make sure to ask your customers what else you can do for them, other than answering their queries and fulfilling their service requests.

Mistake 8

Spamming your customers with information is a surefire way of driving them away. You will come across as a cold-hearted broadcast announcer, as opposed to a social and customer-friendly company.

Nurture conversations with your audience by giving them content opportunities to talk about their lives, brand experiences, or just opinions about something you may want to launch.

Mistake 9

Manually running your entire social media marketing journey is asking for trouble. In today’s automated tool era, you will be history if you rely only on ‘people power.’

With a tool like Social Animal, you can automate several parts of the process that require very little to no human intervention. From content curation and influencer search to competitor monitoring, you can use social media marketing automation tools to drive more efficiency and accuracy.

Mistake 10

Staying free of paid promotional tools means that you’re ultra-confident about your social media strategy. But ask yourself, are you willing to invest dollars in your brand to get more mileage?

Every social media platform comes with its set of premium advertising options that let you promote directly to a specific target audience. Quite simply, when you put your wallet where your megaphone is, the chances of sales conversation are much higher.

Why fail on social media when you can win?

One of the primary reasons for social media becoming a haunting ground for erroneous thought processes and lazy typos is that everyone wants to jump on the next big bandwagon. Whether tweeting trending hot takes and posting event updates on Facebook Live to sharing Instagram stories daily, businesses compete for attention. And why wouldn’t they?

Look at what the results it can help you achieve:

  1. Build brand awareness by promoting content about products, services, success stories, and mission statement
  2. Tell your company’s story and make your interactions feel human
  3. Grow online traffic by leveraging social media platforms and directing users to your website or landing page
  4. Enhance SEO value through link building and search-friendliness
  5. Increase your revenue by extracting maximum social media marketing ROI
  6. Outlast your competitors in the long run by gaining marketing recognition
  7. Improve customer loyalty by creating more stickiness on popular social media platforms
  8. Encourage a culture of social listening and gather valuable feedback to improve your brand promise
  9. Create timely conversations that keep your brand in the minds of customers at the right time, in the right place
  10. Deliver memorable customer experiences on social media platforms

Today, social media marketing is neither rocket science nor breaking news. From bootstrapped one-person-army startups to fully-fledged multinational enterprises, everybody wants a little piece of the action.

Unfortunately, in the process, they tend to make social media marketing faux pas. Especially when a brand forgets to put itself in the shoes of the customer, it can be a red flag moment.

But there are often gaps between what brands want to convey versus how customers perceive their messages. To bridge these gaps, they must make their presence felt on social networks, without highlighting their lack of understanding of customer behavior and psychology.

Sometimes, it may be a simple typo while posting the message or a loss in foresight about any negative results. It doesn’t mean that it will affect the brand any less. If you’re not yet confident to avoid these missteps, then your best bet is to avoid social media itself.

After all, a mistake by any other name could still be as disastrous.

You might also like: The Ultimate List of 101 Social Media Terminologies You Must Know

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Christy Bharath is a writer, with 13+ years of content marketing and branding experience. He helps clients tell their stories across industries like Banking, Retail, Healthcare, IT Services, etc. He also trains writers to help them generate authentic and creative content. Christy is a birdwatcher, and he tweets @contentbirder.