Common Pitfalls a Marketer needs to avoid in Social Media Marketing

Every company needs a social media presence and social media is the most popular online activity, it’s free, and it’s here to stay. In fact, a recent survey found that 90 percent of businesses use social media in some form.  With sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and Google Plus, businesses can build relationships with customers, increase sales, and improve their brand’s identity.

However, simply having a handful of social media accounts doesn’t guarantee success. Sending out a few tweets and sporadically posting on the company’s Facebook page isn’t going to make a company more profitable or help it stand out from the crowd. By avoiding some basic pitfalls, companies can increase ROI and create more opportunities.

Not Having a Plan

Only one in eight companies have a developed social media plan. Consumers are constantly flooded with disorganized information, promotions, and messages. A business may have impressive content but without a plan, posts may get lost in the clutter. In order to cut through the chaos and effectively deliver a message, a business needs to have measurable goals, a clear social media policy, a planned content calendar, and a defined company voice.

Not Linking Digital Marketing Efforts

Some businesses make the mistake of keeping their social media accounts separate from each other and from other online marketing efforts. This makes the sites harder to find and consumers aren’t going to spend much time searching. In order to have the maximum amount of reach, accounts should be tied together and linked to company websites and paid search advertising campaigns.

Not Putting Thought into the Bio

On many social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the description of the company is the first thing people see. It’s important to include a URL linking to the main site as well as a creative and descriptive bio that will let people know what the company does and give them a good reason to follow or like the page. A company has a few short lines to make an impression and encourage the consumer to take action.

Oreo Cookie quickly lets consumers know a little bit about their product, gives a direct link to their website, and gives the consumer a good reason to follow them.

Not Using Images

Consumers don’t want to spend their free time reading massive blocks of text. Even a short post without an image can easily go unnoticed. In fact, tweets including an image have 200 percent more engagement than tweets without images. On Facebook, posts with photos get more likes, comments, and 50 percent more impressions than plain text posts.

Not only should a business use images, they should use colourful images that are visually stimulating. If a business is displaying a product, it should be shown in action. For example, if a company sells T-shirts, instead of showing a shirt on a table, they should show someone wearing it. If a company sells food, it should be shown ready to eat instead of behind the glass of a display case.

Panera Bread included a scrumptious-looking picture of their Easter cookies in their post about raising money for the Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition to the great message, they captured the attention of their audience visually to inspire more engagement.

Not Leveraging Hashtags

Using hashtags can double engagement and help businesses to insert themselves into relevant conversations and trending topics. Finding a target audience or new followers can be as easy as choosing the right hashtag or creating a hashtag campaign.

Businesses can also piggyback on popular hashtags to have a larger reach and a more personal connection but it is important to avoid using unrelated hashtags simply to get noticed. Cramming into random conversations and using hashtags unrelated to the business can look like spam to consumers.

Home Depot posted a great image in this Instagram post but the 12 hashtags are a little much.

To practice healthy hash tagging, companies should limit the number of hashtags to one or two and come up with the most relevant tags that will help attract the right audience.

Not Using a Uniform Voice

Businesses should have a voice that reflects their brand. It should be consistent for every marketing channel, caring, and human. Is the company sexy and cool, family-friendly and fun, affordable and basic, or upscale and smart? Whatever the voice is, a company’s words and visuals should be the tone of their brand.

Not Interacting with Fans or Followers

According to LiveOps, 85 percent of consumers feel that how a brand handles issues on its website or social media channels is a good indicator of its quality of support but data from evolve24 shows that only 29 percent out of 1,298 consumers who publicly complained to a company via Twitter received a response back.

It seems many companies are slipping up here. Social media has quickly become one of the most popular ways to reach a company or business but tweets and posts are going unanswered and consumers are taking notice.

The quality of a company’s customer service across social media platforms is vital for a positive reputation, its reach, and ROI. Satisfaction rates will be low if customers’ concerned are ignored. Papa Johns does a great job at responding to customer’s questions and complaints and is recognized for their customer service.

Treating All Social Media Platforms the Same

Every social media website has its own audience, customs, and language and it’s important to know how people communicate on a certain network. If a company blasts the same message across all platforms, it comes across as fake and spam-like. Businesses need to make an effort to understand the ins and outs of each individual channel in order to adapt their message to each platform and make a more personal connection.

The Wrap-Up

Maintaining a strong social media practice is essential for a company’s success. It’s sometimes easy to look past certain details but by avoiding these social media pitfalls, there will be less need for damage control and more time for reaching out to potential customers, interacting with current fans, and increasing sales.


Some brands that did not transition from one side of funnel to another after Social Media (SM) campaigns:

The funnel ( shows the conversion of the consumers who are brought in by the marketing campaigns & generated revenue for the brand.

  1. HMV Britain SM campaign was initiated on twitter but was hijacked employees who were sacked around the same time due to internal issues of the organization.
  2. Pepsi Swidish branch posted on facebook a voodoo doll of competitor Portugal’s megastar Cristiano Ronaldo tied to train tracks for an SM campaign. But the facebook group of fans of the footballer joined in together to raise the ire & take down the campaign.
  3. J.P. Morgan started an SM campaign on twitter to engage its consumer base through an enlightening Q&A session. But well known journalists also joined in criticizing the bank in the aftermath of 2007-08 slowdown & the bank was forced to cancel the next session of Q&A.
  4. Old spice ran a campaign on twitter by trying to engage the female partners of male deodorant customers suggesting that they can advice the male counterparts about the masculine habits. But the campaign was not received well by the male customers. The marketers were forced to arrange for a parallel coupon & promotional discount to make the sales look good during the campaign.
  5. In 2013 after the marathon bombing tragedy, cooking site Epicurious decide to start an SM campaign by asking it’s 480,000 Twitter followers to cope with the incident by sharing recipes for their whole-cranberry scones. This was a disaster for the SM campaign.
  6. Online retailer CelebBoutique thought of taking advantage of the trending topic on #Aurora by posting a promotional tweet. Actually the hashtag was trending because of Aurora shooting. The campaign proved to be so out of place. This is the classic example of how the twitter is not a great platform for trends because the inclination of emotions of a trend cannot be gauged from just a popular stream on twitter.
  7. American Airlines set up an Auto-Responding to anything that was tweeted on their hashtag. The only problem was that they did not look into the actual text any user was posting & therefore responded with a thank you to a customer who posted an angry abusive post on their hashtag.
  8. American Apparel offered 20% off to anyone living in states that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. This was a bad choice in terms of any kind of marketing campaign be it social or conventional.
  9. The Gap tried to attract customers to do some online shopping as the Hurricane Sandy approached, instead of you know, preparing to deal with a powerful hurricane. The company eventually removed the tweet and offered apology. American Apparel was not the only clothing retailer to commit such blunder in their social media campaigns.
  10. In 2009 Burger King launched a Facebook contest called the “Whopper Sacrifice.” If a user removed 10 of their Facebook friends, in return, they would receive a coupon for a free Whopper. This caused some confusion. Also, since it violated Facebook users’ expectation of privacy, Facebook stopped this campaign. The same chain of Burger King also faced heat of the customers on twitter in Sept-2014 when they moved their head quarters to Canada to save on federal taxes.

What are some examples of brands that did not transition from one side of the funnel to another?

The core objective of Marketing is to generate more revenues or sales by reaching out to potential customers and engaging them in more ways than one.

A typical funnel process starts with brand exposure to brand engagement to generating leads. This leads are then pursued to ensure the leads or prospects are converted. The process goes one step ahead and makes sure the customers are retained and remain loyal to the brand.

Companies adopt various methods to expose brands to consumers and attract their attention. They do it through conventional mediums and lately have adopted the immense potential of social media platform.

Companies often spend heavily for such campaigns, try to be creative and try numerous means of customer interaction. Even if they end up reaching out to as many potential customers as possible, they more often than not end up not having the desired results. There seems to be a ‘leak’ in the entire process that takes up valuable customers. This can be due to not understanding the customer’s expectations correctly and making wrong assumptions. This can backfire in disastrous ways spoiling the image and reputation of the company which could lead existing customers leaving the brand once and for all at the cost of immense expenditure and investments.

Here are some examples of brands that went wrong in their social media strategies and failed to transition from one side of the funnel to the other and somehow got lost in the transition.

  • Coors a Beer company tried to extend into water, but its transition did not make sense to its own customers and failed miserably
  • Kodak went into oblivion when it failed to answer the call of the digital age. Same happened with polaroid.
  • Netflix got a lot of heat after it decided to launch Qwikster, whose purpose was to separate Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service from its online streaming service. Users who wanted both DVDs by mail andonline streaming would’ve had to create a separate account for each of the two services. Ultimately Netflix decided not to launch Qwitster
  • New Coke launched by Coca Cola dint receive favourable response from the consumers because they thought that original coke flavour had been tampered with and hence started to boycott the brand
  • Coke’s heavily-marketed Dasani water, but consumers were outraged to discover that the water they were spending good money on had just come from a tap in London

The most common reasons why brands fail to make the transition can be many; some of which have been summarized below.

  • Cultural issues when entering new markets and geographies. New segments of customers do not show the same response as that of local markets and companies make some serious blunders in assumptions
  • Products or services fall short of promises and take a big hit on reputation.
  • New products that require significant customer education and awareness of using or consuming the product, without which the brand fails to be successful.
  • The product is revolutionary, but has no market for it. This might be again due to false assumptions and false alarms on social media platform.

Many companies have learnt the lesson the hard way. Many more still keep on repeating the mistakes. However, it will take a while before companies outline a clear framework of measuring the workability of brands in markets. Consumers will always surprise companies. Hence they should be extra careful about what will work and want will be discarded out of sight immediately.

What pitfalls should marketers watch out for in embracing social media for marketing?

Social media marketing is very different from conventional ways of marketing. Conventional marketing have essentially been of two types – “in your face” or “the creative ones”. These have largely to do with the products and brands. On the other hand social media marketing is all about “Engagement” with the customer. Differences like these unfortunately are not understood by everyone, which often leads to failed campaigns. Some of the pitfalls that marketers can avoid in embracing social media marketing are:

  1. It‘s all about Customer Engagement!

Social media marketing is not about your product or brand or sales or profits or market-share. It is only about the customers and their association with your brand. The mindset required for marketing campaigns at the top is very different from the mindset required at the bottom. It means that your market share rank has nothing to do with social share rank. Although it is true that your social share rank will definitely impact your market share rank. In essence you cannot assume that social media marketing is about you. It is about the customer and only the customer!

  1. It’s more than just being able to type fast!

Success in Social media marketing is not just about being able to type fast! In other words, you cannot just put anything or everything out there on social media platforms and expect it to work for you. Social media marketing requires carefully thought-out, systematic and methodical approaches and strategies for it to work. Like the various principles and theories in conventional marketing, social media marketing has its own set of best practices and guidelines.

  1. Confusing people does not work anymore!

Confusing, misguiding or withholding complete information from users might have worked for marketers in conventional forms of marketing but it would be foolish to assume it would work with social media marketing too. Users on social media can easily call your bluff through collaborative information-gathering and if it so happens, they can be unforgiving to you. Today it’s all about providing information upfront to the users.

  1. You can’t mess with social media and its users!

Social media users are mostly well-informed and have the ability to speak-out and let millions of other users know of any wrong-doings on part of any organization. Any attempt by an organization to dictate terms to the users on social media platforms can bounce-back terribly. The minute a user feels cheated or that you are being unethical in your conduct or trying to dictate terms by flexing your muscle, you are in trouble!

  1. You can’t try to herald people in any particular direction!

Marketers have tried to leverage social media platforms to run campaigns with an objective of driving people towards a particular agenda or ideologue. Such attempts have often backfired as the true motives behind such campaigns have been revealed on the very same platforms through fellow users aware of the real situation.

  1. It’s not about Signaling anymore!

Conventional marketing has always been about “Signaling” – providing selective information to customer to make him feel reassured in your product or service. This has always favored the advantaged party – the marketer. No longer though! Today, the customer is prepared to ask questions and challenge you on what you say. Screening is the new thing!

  1. Screening will take place no matter what the strategy is!

As discussed above, social media marketing is about screening and not signaling. Having understand that, you also have to understand that Screening will take place no matter what your marketing strategy is. You cannot make the mistake of assuming that it does not apply to your brand or product. And more importantly, the customer must not feel cheated after the screening. The answer to the question – “Does your marketing campaign withstand screening?” must always be an emphatic “YES”.


While social media offers incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with customers and build their brand, not all companies have been successful in deriving complete value from their social media efforts. The problem is usually with the way Social Media Marketing is handled. Rather than following a well thought of and strategic approach to social media, most brands jump into social networks just because others are doing it.

Marketers need to avoid these common pitfalls in embracing social media for marketing.

  1. No plan of action – Social Media Marketing needs solid research coupled with a practical plan in place. Most marketers fail to realize that though social networks is a fun place but the business behind is serious. They fail to ask themselves – What are their goals, who will be the target audience, how do we plan our content, does our social strategy align with our business objectives, who is going to manage social media etc. If the marketers do not have answers to the above questions and still on social media for advertising their products or services, it’s a major pitfall to watch out for.
  1. Acquiring mass followers and not targeted followers – While it’s good to have good social media following, marketers need to be very focused on engaging genuine audience who will be interested in your service or product. Those who engage millions of fans without a valuable output have stumbled over a pitfall.
  1. Focusing on product and not customer – Like conventional marketing, social media marketing also should focus on customers, their interests, making relationships, engagements and not purely selling products. One way broadcast about your product is a clear pitfall marketers should avoid.
  1. Not researching the competitors enough – It’s good to know what the competitors are doing, however, just being on social media just because your competitors are without researching what are they on social media, what sort of content are they posting and who their followers are, is a pitfall to watch out for.
  1. Not posting the right content – Marketers sometimes post standard content on all the social media platforms without understanding that the content on , say Facebook, might not be relevant to Twitter. The end result is uninterested audience with no progress on your social media marketing campaigns.
  1. Too casual or too much involvement – Both of these are a great recipe for social media marketing failure. Good promotion require right advertising to the right people at the right time. Too much of anything or offering nothing at all can ruin your business. Being concise and original is the key.
  1. Ignoring analytics – The world of social media is dynamic which means you continually need to optimize your SMM strategies. Continuously measuring progress, analyzing what works and what doesn’t, making adjustments as per analysis is the right way. Keeping social media marketing and analytics separate will be a pitfall marketers need to avoid.
  1. Not having a metric system in place – Generating ROI is definitely the end objective of any marketing campaign, however, the social media campaigns should be measurable using the right metric system so that decisions like allocating resources etc. can be reached at easily.

Apart from the pitfalls mentioned above, other major mistakes that marketers do are – not committing enough resources to make the campaign work, politically or socially insensitive posts, not promoting social media initiatives properly and forgetting the metrics.



The pitfalls budding social media marketers should watch out for

Not even the most conventional-minded marketer today will deny the power of social media in engaging customers and influencing their choices. And yet, as many brands have found out the hard way, succeeding on social media street is no piece of cake. It’s fraught with risks and uncertainties that have tripped up some marquee brands and their highly evolved marketing engines.

One of the greatest challenges of social media is to engage audiences who are faced with a massive information overload even when it comes to information they are proactively seeking. When it comes to unsolicited communication, the task of getting it across is twice as daunting. The message and the creative execution need to be extremely engaging to even register with them. Millenials especially are tough to engage with due to their short attention spans and impatience with content that’s anything less than spectacular.

The second major challenge is that of understanding and accepting who ‘owns’ the brand and its messaging on social media. Most brands have learnt that the ownership lies largely with the audience. The traditional content creator approach doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s best to let consumers co-create content with you and lead the direction of the conversation; the brand should merely be the platform, the facilitator that enjoys their gratitude and goodwill.

Another common pitfall that brands must be wary of is not coming across as a consistent, human entity. Marketers have always laid a lot of emphasis on creating a strong brand persona across media, but somehow when it comes to social media, the messaging tends to be more ad hoc and me-too. Lack of confidence in one’s posts- characterized by sticking to ‘safe’ material- is another almost surefire buzzkill for audiences who are looking for something interesting and unconventional.

B2B marketers often make the mistake of assuming that social media is for B2C brands only. The success of LinkedIn as a business networking community is just one of the facts that points in the other direction. According to a Forrester Research report titled “Social Technographics of Business Buyers”,

– 91% of business buyers read blogs, watching user generated video, participate in other social media
– 55% of decision-makers were in social networks
– 43% are creating media (blogs, uploading videos or articles, etc.)

Josh Bernoff of Forrester commented, “If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late.”

So those are some of the mistakes that can be avoided with a little thought and preparation (and by having a good digital / social marketing team on board). I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section.

Pitfalls associated with Social Media marketers should watch out for

Post dot com period the much spoken Web 2.0 highlighted – the services provided by networks would be more and more dependent on the content created by users. Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006 have illustrated this power of network effect and led a phenomenal development that no other business line has experienced.

Social media platforms have truly revolutionized how businesses operate and made customer the driving force behind an organization’s strategy. Over the years such channels have helped in building customer expectations from a company and its brand perception. Companies are devising new mechanisms to interact with customers, employees and partners in order to differentiate. On the other hand customers expect best in class, anywhere and anytime service.

It’s obvious that businesses have realized that need to do social and do it better than others. However it is extremely important how these businesses take on this new medium and leverage it to its advantage. So even though it seems all very cool and positive in the beginning, there are number of problems that a marketer should watch out for –

  • It needs a very dedicated setup and consumes lot of resources, be it time and money or people. So organizations need to plan accordingly.
  • Many of the businesses go for social media because their competitors are doing it, without even understanding its reach, power and influence. Ideally businesses need to understand how the World Wide Web works first so that they can make best use of resources to reach the target market.
  • The essence of social media success has been the platform it provides where people can interact and collaborate. Companies need to take into account; the comments and reviews people post and devise their go to market strategy to be as relevant and reachable as possible.
  • Once a company adopts a social media marketing strategy, it has to make its presence felt there. The marketing team can’t run a campaign and then sit quite for next few months with a mindset that efforts put in would sustain for next few months. The usage of social media requires one thing and that is steadiness. One has to volley its target market with promotions in order to remain preferred choice of its customers.
  • Constant checks to ensure that the methods that track the success of social media efforts are accurate and reliable. If one compares its sales before and after social media marketing every few weeks, what quantifiable answer these methods provide. If the tracking mechanisms are not effective, firms wouldn’t know if you they need to re-align or re-frame their strategies.

Lastly, the marketing team needs to look at expectation management. They first need to set expectations and monitor it continuously so that customer experience is not compromised. The team has to design and develop the social platforms, optimize those social networks and digital assets and update multiple networks daily with fresh content. After all, all these numerous platforms need attention.