The 8 Biggest Mistakes We See Companies Make with Their Social Media


Outlook Marketing Services supports corporate and nonprofit social media programs large and small across clients in a variety of industries. This support ranges from content development to comprehensive plans that may include: organic and paid social strategy, program execution, monitoring/social listening, proactive engagement, optimization, reporting, social selling and/or employee advocacy. Our varied experiences with programs over the years means we’ve seen a lot and can share some advice on what to avoid when it comes to social media activities. In an effort to help organizations take a smarter approach, these are the eight biggest mistakes we see companies make with their social media.

  1. They don’t adopt the right attitude.

The most successful programs we’ve experienced to date are overseen by rock solid teams with the right mix of discipline and perspective. They start with a plan but are flexible and open to change. They have a seamlessly collaborative spirit, not just across their own internal teams, but in working with ours, as well as a pretty good sense of humor. This mindset inherently fosters experimentation, big ideas and risk-taking and is built on solid trust in both our and their team’s expertise. The result is an absence of micromanaging and a healthy understanding that small missteps, ideas that may fall flat or the need to make a big change are all part of a constantly evolving program.

  1. They don’t know why they’re doing it.

The worst thing a company can do is set out on a social media program (or any marketing program for that matter!) without a clear reason for being and key objectives. Is your goal to better engage with customers? Drive more visits to your website? Have enhanced intel on industry conversations related to specific topics? Make sure you know all the key reasons a social channel will support your business and how you’re going to measure success. That also means laying out a comprehensive plan for how you’ll execute the program and when you’ll evaluate and adjust.

A key aspect of doing this successfully, and where we see many organizations misstep, is in understanding the capabilities, strengths and limitations of each social platform. A few examples of areas that will impact your approach:

  • Not every social channel is created equal – your best approach is to tailor your strategy for each
  • Know what insights you are able to capture on each platform
  • Understand how you’re able to target (or not) via paid activities on each platform
  • Be aware that all social platforms are constantly changing and require both a flexible strategy and flexible performance expectations
  • Realize that not all metric reports or audience insights are easy to come by (This can be a manual process in many cases!)
  1. They’ve got process problems.

I cannot reiterate enough that if you’re going to launch or improve upon your social media program, you will need a good process framework in place to set goals, execute and review activities; if you’re operating without it, you are flying by the seat of your pants and will find yourself in a world of chaos. But the flip side will also hurt you: too much process. If you’re overthinking every small decision you make or are too in the weeds, you will be limiting your success and burning out your team – in both hours and creative energy. Social media can be spontaneous and change quickly, so you must be willing to be relatively agile or opportunities can pass you by.

  1. They have a limiting view on content and creativity.

Good content is the lifeblood of any successful social media program – a great social program will only happen if the content you’re sharing is valuable and relevant to your audience. All wins come from taking the perspective of your potential customer and their experience:

  • Don’t be too self-serving. Are you only sharing your own content (vs. third party articles)? Is your tone too sales-y and/or more focused on you than your audience?
  • Consider content selection thoughtfully. Are you reusing the same content again or again so it’s getting stale for your followers? Are you missing opportunities to utilize the full range of content at your disposal?
  • Cadence matters. Are you posting too often with diminishing returns? Are you posting inconsistently, making it hard to build a connection with your audience or establish a brand voice?
  • Experimentation and creativity is key. Are you experimenting with post length and formats? What about emojis, visuals and videos? Social is an environment where you can play with a more creative tone – don’t fall victim to being too formal. A little fun or expressing a definitive point of view can go a long way with your followers.
  1. They don’t work to break down silos.

This type of communication and collaboration gap can arise in two major ways: either externally, by not fostering visibility with partners like us, or internally, with silos across the marketing department, between marketing and other key customer-facing departments like sales and support or across the broader organization as a whole. In general, the best scenario for success equates to:

  • Collaboration and information sharing across all teams, internally and externally
  • A seamless customer experience across every touchpoint
  • Data sharing and integration, with joint KPIs
  1. They’re being defeated by data.

A growing emphasis on data-driven marketing has forced us all to take a hard look at performance through numbers, which can be a great thing. But we’re also letting it get the best of us by misunderstanding key performance indicators (KPIs), misinterpreting our metrics and misusing the results. How does this play out in social media programs?

  • Thinking one KPI alone is the only way to measure success
  • Thinking a KPI is right for every organization and every channel
  • Not doing any testing
  • Not doing clean tests to enable comparative analysis
  • Refusing to listen to the data and acknowledge: an audience, a list, a content tone, a visual or something else is not performing
  • Not exploring the nuances of quality over quantity in your results – i.e. is it better to have 45 engagements from a group of random followers or 1 engagement from a key decision-maker at one of your ABM-targeted account?

The companies who see the biggest wins with data are willing to test, willing to adjust and willing to adapt to changing platform behavior and performance.

  1. They don’t effectively utilize monitoring or proactive engagement.

More and more organizations are getting on board with monitoring and proactive engagement, but others still struggle to see the value because it can take time to see results. This is a missed opportunity. Monitoring, or “social listening” as it’s also referred to, can give you great customer and industry insights, ideas for content and help you monitor competitors. If you take it to the next level and invest in proactive engagement, you’re able to have more 1:1 personalized interactions with your audience, get involved in key conversations and build relationships with influencers, analysts and respected industry experts. It also gives you an opportunity to show the human side of your brand. Across every aspect of this strategy, resist the urge to take a short-sighted approach.

  1. They’re missing opportunities to harness their employee base.

Employees are a social media (and content!) program’s best friend. When it comes to your content development, harnessing your employees’ unique expertise is a chance to support your organization’s thought leadership efforts and strengthen your brand’s position in the industry conversation. The collective knowledge of your employee base is your greatest asset as a company, and you’re missing an opportunity if you don’t share it externally as well. Beyond just sharing said content on social, are you quoting employees? Tagging them in your posts? And to take it another step further, have you developed an employee advocacy program? This takes your social media program to the next level by enabling and motivating employees to share your social media posts to their audience – exponentially expanding your reach and lending a level of credibility that you would never be able to achieve alone.


What mistakes do you see organizations making most with social media? Have any great tips not mentioned above? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us in the comments, or share them with us on social media (see what we did there? ??) via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. And if you’re interested in learning more about how we could help your social media program, check out our services page and please reach out to us!




Author: Stephanie Manola, Account Director, Outlook Marketing Services




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