Beginners to social media are likely to get confused when starting out because there are so many things to learn and do on the various social media platforms and sometimes you just don’t know from where to start, what to do and what not to do.
From my experience, most beginners make the following mistakes and if you can manage to avoid them you will save money, time and frustration. In addition, you will get good results faster without spending your time on useless tasks.
If social media is something really new to you, then I suggest you start by reading these 2 articles (10 social media marketing tips for beginners and Difference between digital marketing and social media) and then come back to learn about the most common mistakes people do when using social networks.
1. Concentrating only on Facebook
Although the word Facebook has become a synonym to social media, it is not the only social network you can use to promote your website. Maybe for personal use Facebook is all you need but for SEO purposes and more web traffic, you need to engage on other social networks as well. If you are short of time then Google+ is your next best choice.
2. Working on too many social media platforms at the same time
While you should not only concentrate on Facebook, if you try to engage on too many platforms at the same time it will be very difficult to achieve good results. This is one of the mistakes that many people do and at the end they quit believing that the whole social media marketing is useless and not rewarding.
So instead of trying to get followers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn at the same time, you can start with a couple of networks and then once your profiles are mature you can move on to the next.
It is worth noting that after some point your social media profiles will grow organically and the effort you will have to put on each network will be less.
3. Your social media profiles are not SEO optimized
Besides the traffic benefits and visibility gained from social media, there are also some hidden SEO benefits. You can SEO your social media profiles and boost your presence both in social media and search engines.
Doing so it not that hard, basically you need to treat your profiles on the different social media networks like your website. Special attention should be given to the titles, urls and descriptions you use and try to be authentic in what you say and share.
4. You don’t have the social media buttons on your website
A secret for social media success especially for beginners is that you need to give your users easy ways to share your content on social media. This means that social media buttons should be made available in your website or blog in prominent places and in the right size.
There are many combinations that will work but in my opinion for optimum performance it is recommended to:
- Place a ‘Facebook like box’ in the sidebar, above the fold
- Place an ‘Add to Circles box’ in the sidebar
- Use large social media buttons for sharing the content and try to position the buttons above the fold and in areas visible by the users.
- Do not forget that a number of your readers are using tablets to view your pages so make it easier for them to share your content (another reason to use big buttons that are easily clickable by finger).
- If you are using an image in your post make sure that the Pinterest button is available and configured correctly.
5. You share only content from your own websites
Unless you are Seth Godin or Danny Sullivan you cannot share content from your own websites only. The primary purpose of social platforms is to network with other users and sharing interesting content from a number of websites is the suggested way to get noticed and increase your followers.
Do not forget to follow the leaders in your niche, share their content consistently and interact with them by posting comments or mentioning them in your posts.
6. You try to increase your followers too fast
All membership websites have rules and social media networks are no exception to this. If you fail to obey their rules, you risk losing your account and all the time you have spent building your profiles. If you don’t want to read the policies of each network then the best thing you can do is avoid exaggerations and you will be fine.
For example, do not start adding and removing tens of new people per day but follow a more moderate approach. I would say that adding/removing 10-20 people per day (on each social network) is enough to grow your profiles steadily and keep you under the radar at the same time.
If you follow a more aggressive pattern then you may get a number of penalties (for example Facebook may disallow you from adding new friends for 30 days, Twitter will suspend your account, Google+ will give you a notice etc) and this will slow you down further.
7. You want to be followed but forget to follow back!
This is another common mistake most beginners do with social media. They put all their efforts in following new people or removing those who are not following them back and forget to follow back those that are already following them.
If you don’t follow people who follow you, some of them will stop following you and this is why you see fluctuations in your followers count. There are many tools to use to monitor this and although you don’t have to follow back anyone that is following you, it is suggested to do so especially at the beginning.
8. You don’t know the difference between a personal profile and a business profile
Almost all social media networks (maybe with the exception of Twitter) have different versions for personal and business profiles. Facebook has the Facebook Business page, Google+ has the Google+ for business and Pinterest recently introduced Pinterest for Business.
For Facebook and Google+, a business page is owned by a personal profile so you need to first create your personal profile and then create a business page. Each network has its own rules and what is important is to create a business page to promote your web site. You can use the business profile to promote posts from your website only and your personal profile to promote posts from other websites as well.
9. You are either on auto-pilot or completely manual
As I mentioned above, there are many tools you can use to automate almost all social media tasks but this is not recommended. Personal contact where possible will produce better results rather than using auto-replies or anything that is not human.
On the other hand, you cannot do everything yourself. If you are active on more than one network, you will need a lot of time to make frequent posts, write comments and engage with your followers so maybe you should consider using a tool for some tasks but not all.
I use buffer to schedule some of my tweets so that I free up some time to work on Facebook and Google+.
10. You forget about engagement
Social networking is not only about connecting but it’s also about engaging. Don’t forget that one of your goals when using the social networks is to find new customers and more followers so besides following people you also need to engage with them. Personal contact is the most efficient way to promote your business offline and this is true in the online World as well.
11. You neglect the fact that people may LIKE or +1 your post without reading it or visiting your website
This is something I noticed for some time now and I am sure people who have experience in social media, may have noticed this too. Many times when I post on Facebook a URL from my website, I notice that there are a good number of Facebook likes but not that many visits from Facebook for the particular page. This means that people see the post in their timelines and they click the LIKE button just by reading the intro and seeing the image published with the post without visiting the website.
I am giving this example to raise the importance of using good images in your social media posts together with attractive titles and catchy descriptions. A post can go rival if you get this two things right and if you manage to push the message at a time you have most of your followers online.
12. You believe that your posts are seen by all your followers
This is another misconception that disappoints a lot of people. Let’s say that you have 2000 people as fans in your Facebook business page. When you make a new post using your Facebook business account, it will only be seen by aprx 200 people i.e. only 10% of your fans will see the post in their timelines. The other networks have similar rules and the easiest way to increase the number of people who see a post is to use advertising.
13. You don’t know that you can promote your profiles through advertising
Taking the lead from the previous point, it’s good to know that if you want to:
- Get more Facebook fans
- Get more Facebook likes on your posts
- Get more tweets
- Get more twitter followers
- Get more Google+ followers
- Get more 1+s
…then the fastest way to do this is by utilizing the advertising options of the different platforms. Facebook has the Facebook ads, twitter the promoted accounts and tweets (only available in the US for now) and Google+ has the Adwords express platform. They are easy to use, they don’t cost much and the results are more than satisfactory.
I like to use the Facebook advertising options for getting more likes to my business pages and so far this has been generating some very good results with minimum cost.
Note: To clarify a misconception, you are not buying Facebook likes or tweets but what you are paying for is for more views for your posts. If what you are posting is good your followers are more likely to like it or tweet about it.
14. You don’t use images with your posts
Many studies have shown that posts that use nice images will get more likes, tweets, Pins etc. This is true for all social networks including twitter (which some people believe that it is about 140 characters only). So every time you want to share something on social media make sure that it is accompanied by a good quality image.
15. You don’t use hash tags
A hash tag is the easiest way to follow a discussion on any platform. For example during the NBA finals you can search for #nbafinals on twitter or Google plus and stay informed about the latest stories on that subject. A few weeks ago Facebook started using hast tags as well (Twitter and Google+ were using hash tags from the beginning).
Usage of hash tags is straightforward, just use the ‘#’ followed by the keyword you want to use. For example the tweet for this post is like this:
15 social media mistakes to avoid #socialmedia #socialmediamistakes
Social media is a very important component of a digital marketing campaign and it is a must for every marketer who wants to compete online. Beginners to social media may have difficulties understanding how each social network works that’s why it is very important to avoid doing the 15 mistakes outlined above.