The Missteps of Engagement: Learning from Social Media Marketing Mistakes

Social media is a powerful marketing tool. True! But what’s also true is that the ever-changing social media landscape can be intimidating to a marketer or brand trying to keep up! So, how do you tackle this challenge? By slowly and steadily learning – not just what to do on social media, but also what not to do! And this blog is about the second part – social media marketing mistakes to avoid! 

We’ll be talking about the common pitfalls that brands make, ones that can cost a brand’s reputation, ones that can lead to the precious marketing budget going a waste! 

But before we discuss social media marketing mistakes, let’s understand why these mistakes carry weight in the current social media landscape! 

Social Media Marketing Mistakes – They Are More Detrimental Than You Think

The number of users on social media is increasing rapidly and is projected to reach six billion in 2027. This implies that every post represents your brand in front of a vast audience. So, most social media marketing mistakes can have a huge impact on your brand’s reputation. 

In 2024, the total social media ad spending is projected to reach US$219.8bn. This means that brands around the world are constantly striving to get noticed, to woo their audience. So, it’s very easy for a disappointed customer to find alternatives to your brand. You cannot allow errors in your social media strategy to disappoint your customers. 

In addition to these crucial facts, let’s understand why one small misstep on social media can have far-reaching consequences for a brand. 

  • One insensitive post, a design fail, an unprofessional presentation – anything can damage a brand’s reputation. Not just on social media but in general. 
  • Your website might have limited information about your brand. But your social media page is where you are constantly conversing with your customers helping them understand your brand better. So a bad encounter there can lead to strained customer relationships. 
  • Social media marketing is not easy; it’s not cheap. So, all the effort and budget spent on planning the content, executing your ideas, and designing the posts can go down the drain because of grave social media marketing mistakes. 

So yes, you need to approach the dynamic social media landscape with caution. Let’s now talk about those grave social media marketing mistakes to avoid at all costs! 

10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes Brands Should Avoid 

1. Using misleading clickbait 

How many times have you been lured into watching a video on social media by a catchy headline, only to find that the video is not what you thought it would be? Do these clickbaits disappoint you? Do you think you’ll willingly return to that social media page that fooled you with this clickbait headline? You probably won’t! Your customers won’t either! 

So, stay away from clickbait copies. Whether it is a simple text post or the text on an image or carousel or video post! 

A good example will be the instance when Burger King used a clickbait Tweet for International Women’s Day. The controversial statement did grab all the attention the brand thought it would. But the underlying message did not save the brand from the wrath of the social media crowd! 

What can you do instead? Focus on the value your post creates for your customers and try to win them with your authenticity. To achieve this, you need clear, compelling headlines that align with your brand’s unique tone of voice! That’s the best way to start a conversation on social media. Not with a clickbait! 

2. Letting factual errors hamper your reputation 

Remember that time when the popular style blog, Total Beauty, confused Whoopi Goldberg with Oprah Winfrey? The image below is a screenshot of that Tweet to jog your memory. 

Factual errors like this one are the kinds of errors that brands cannot afford to make! The brand was at the receiving end of criticism for this mistake. But most importantly, it’s been 8 years but the marketing realm has not let this one go! After all, the internet never forgets! The brand might have taken down the Tweet yet you’ll still see screenshots of this circulating around. 

So, to avoid walking the social media walk of shame, ensure that you double-check the facts in your posts. But to err is human; why even AI tools are prone to making mistakes after all! So, if you do post a factually incorrect post, be upfront and transparent about it. By accepting and acknowledging the mistakes you make on social media, you are showing your brand’s vulnerable side, your brand’s human side! This helps maintain trust. 

3. Being tone-deaf 

Neglecting to listen to your audience, and ignoring the social media sentiments about your brand can be some of the biggest social media marketing mistakes. Because doing that leads to misaligned content, content that warrants unwanted criticism and ridicule. 

A good example here is ALDI’s “fill-in-the-blank” Tweet as seen in the below image. The idea was to create a conversation,  to gather feedback. However, the post did not go as intended. The responses to this Tweet were pretty harsh. Incidents like this one could be averted through social listening. By understanding what customers are talking about your brand on the various social media platforms.  

An interesting perspective to note here is that the post reportedly received a good response on Facebook and there were quite a lot of positive replies from ALDI customers. The issue was merely on X (formerly Twitter). 

So, yes, it’s important not just to understand customer sentiments but also the overall emotions that prevail on different platforms. This is yet another example that shows that not all social media platforms work the same. So you need to tweak your idea for the platform and its users. 

4. Erratic posting schedules 

You cannot post at random times and expect results! Erratic posting, whether it’s random posting times or posting too frequently for a brief period and then disappearing, can break trust and momentum. It’s not always easy to win these back! This can take a toll on your brand’s engagement on social media as well. 

So, what can you do about it? Identify the optimal posting schedule for your brand. 

The popular social media management toolkit recently spoke about the best times to post on X and the best content types based on their analysis of over a million Tweets. 

Look for information from such dependable authorities on social media marketing. The blogs and social media pages of popular social media management tools can be a good place to start. An even better option will be to look at your brand’s social media analytics. Whether you use built-in analytics on social media platforms or a comprehensive tool to monitor your performance, your page analytics can give you the most dependable insights about the time to post on social media to receive the best engagement. 

5. Hopping on the wrong trends 

Trendjacking is good, no doubt! But do you really need to jump on every trend you come across? The below example from the popular frozen pizza brand DiGiorno proves that thoughtful content planning matters more than following trends. 

For a quick background, the #WhyIStayed hashtag on social media back then was about people sharing their domestic abuse stories. So, the above post was not the best idea after all! The brand faced a lot of criticism from the social media circle. 

We’re sure you are now recalling several such instances of brands landing in hot water for jumping on the wrong trends. 

So, yes, before you hop on trends, ensure that you fully understand the trend, its origin, and the sentiments involved. Get on board only if you think that the trend is relevant to your brand and to your audience. 

6. Relying solely on stock images 

Stock images do make creating social media posts a breeze. However, relying solely on them can result in an uninspiring and plain social media aesthetic. Now you do not want that for your brand, do you? 

There are a couple of problems with stock images due to which relying too much on them can be one of the biggest social media marketing mistakes. 

  • Stock images that look staged fail to make a genuine emotional connection with your customers. 
  • They might not carry those details that can help represent your brand’s unique personality. 

So, if you don’t want your brand to get lost in a sea of generic images, then switching to custom graphics will be a great idea. With this you can:

  • Create illustrations unique to your brand.
  • Create designs from scratch.
  • Edit and fine-tune your product photos for a professional touch. 
  • Or even combine stock elements and add your creative flair to create something that truly looks and feels like your brand. 

For example, the below image is a glimpse of the Instagram page of Asana, one of the most popular project management tools in the market. Notice how the brand uses on-brand custom graphics to create a visually immersive grid of informative posts. Striking social media graphics like these are sure to impress the first-time visitor and the existing audience alike. 

7. Ignoring your brand

Have you ever stumbled upon a profile that looks so generic that you forgot what the page is about or why you visited it? That’s what happens when you ignore your brand when creating social media content. 

One of the biggest social media marketing mistakes that brands make is merely existing on social media without creating an impact. Without leveraging on-brand content. If your social media profiles do not justify your brand’s visual identity, if your posts do not carry your brand’s unique tone of voice, then how will your audience know what makes your brand unique? What reason will they have to connect with your brand? 

Hence, begin by defining your brand’s voice and values, and your objectives for social media. How can you do that? 

  • By consistently incorporating your brand’s colors.
  • Integrating your brand mascot relevantly in your posts.
  • Ensuring that the copy in each of your posts aligns with your brand’s tone of voice. 

The below image is a snapshot of the Instagram page of Headspace, an app offering guided meditations and more. Anyone who knows the brand or has encountered the brand through marketing emails and the app might perhaps instantly recognize the signature visual style and brand colors. That’s the power of creating on-brand content for social media. 

KIMP Tip: Maintaining a clear social media brand style guide can be of great help in achieving a consistent presentation of your brand on social media. It can help make your brand recognizable in the visually overwhelming social media realm.

Need help designing consistent on-brand social media graphics? Get KIMP

8. Not optimizing your page for your audience 

Talking at your audience instead of talking to them is one of the biggest social media marketing mistakes you can make! If your social media page and the content on it do not talk in the language of your audience and do not focus on their interests, then your social media page acts as just another promotional material rather than a medium of engagement. 

When you fail to optimize your social media pages to suit the likes and dislikes of your audience, you are missing valuable opportunities. 

So, what can you do instead? 

  • Define your brand’s ideal customer persona. 
  • Understand the nuances of their personality – the lingo, the visual style and the type of content that resonates best with them. 
  • Create content based on these details.

Take Netflix for example. Being a global brand, there is the pressure of handling audiences from different demographics. The brand does that brilliantly. Right from customizing the “Bio” section on their regional X pages to curating content that resonates with each demographic! 

The below image is a snapshot of what the Netflix India page looks like on X. The Bio and the cover image are in tune with a big movie release anticipated by a majority of the Indian audience. Little optimization details like these can make a global brand appear more approachable to the local audience. 

9. Creating posts with no clear intent 

Content that misses the mark can be one of the most detrimental social media marketing mistakes a brand can make. This can be a waste of resources and time. Posts without a clear intent can confuse your audience and negatively impact brand engagement. 

When there is no clear intent or CTA (call-to-action) in your post, your audience does not get a reason to engage with it. This can also mean that your social media content fails to help with brand recall or help you achieve the intended goals. 

To avoid this, here are some things you can do: 

  • Define your brand’s objectives on every platform – it could be to boost website traffic on one, to humanize your brand on another. 
  • Focus on the value of the content to your audience and the desired outcome from the post. 
10. Ignoring the aesthetics of your social media profiles 

Having all the above factors sorted and finally ignoring your social media aesthetics can be one of the biggest social media marketing mistakes. Because social media is a visually immersive space. Whether it is carousels on Instagram or short videos on TikTok or long videos on YouTube, you know that there’s plenty of other content similar to yours. You know well that there are several other pages similar to yours. So, there should be a striking visual factor that sets your page apart. 

The below image is a snapshot of the Instagram page of a popular windows and doors manufacturer Pella. The signature brand color, yellow – appears on the profile picture and on the Story Highlight cover images. The rest of their grid also looks organized and they use clear templates to ensure a visually cohesive experience for every visitor. 

Overall, the aesthetics of Pella’s Instagram page leave a lasting impression on any first-time visitor. 

This is the power of strong aesthetic appeal on social media. A few things you can do:

  • Come up with a consistent grid layout on Instagram. 
  • Create stunning cover images for your YouTube videos and Instagram Reels.
  • Use professionally edited on-brand cover images on Facebook and YouTube. 
  • Post sleek branded graphics on Pinterest to create a virtual portfolio. 

On the whole, a well-planned and executed social media content strategy can help enhance the aesthetic appeal of your brand’s social media pages. 

Design Stunning Social Media Visuals With KIMP 

A good marketer learns from their social media marketing mistakes. But a great marketer learns from the social media marketing mistakes that others make! Are you ready to be a great marketer? Then we hope these quick reminders inspired you to revisit your social media strategy and start with a fresh perspective. 

Now with that fresh perspective, if are looking for a fresh take on your social media design workflow, why not try an unlimited design subscription, like KIMP? Unlimited designs, unlimited revisions, and a dedicated design team to take care of your never-ending social media design requirements and then some! 

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