3 fatal social media mistakes you must avoid in 2016

Right this way

Business owners are responsible for everything, which can have its perks (donut Friday, anyone?). Yet it can also be a huge negative if you’re also the one responsible for managing your company’s social media presence.

In short, there’s so much that can go wrong — such as responding angrily to a criticism or accidentally posting a less than appropriate link. It’s easily done (or so I’ve read).

With the above in mind, in this article we’ll discuss three fatal (but all too common) social media mistakes you must avoid to be more effective and profitable (and sane) in 2016.

Mistake #1: Having ill-defined (or no) goals

Buying Twitter Followers Cartoon
Image by Sean R. Nicolson via Flickr cc

How many times should you update your Facebook page each day?

I have no idea. It’s not up to me, or any other “social media expert.” Blanket, generalized recommendations often aren’t helpful to your specific, unique scenario. Instead, you should adjust accordingly with a little more strategic insight.

Charging ahead with a “tactics-first” approach without first putting a cohesive strategy together is ineffective at best, because at the end of the day, you won’t actually be sure why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The best place to start is always customer research, which can help you put together living, breathing customer personas.

Demographics are nice, but they don’t tell you why someone does (or doesn’t) buy. So uncover your customers’ motivations by starting with their aspirations or goals, then discussing the problems holding them back from achieving those things and the different “pain points” they’re experiencing because of it.

Next, it’s time to reflect on the best way to position your solution (i.e. product or service) to solve their problems. Answering “why you do what you do” should be essential to get clear on your overall goals and help you create a specific marketing strategy (with detailed, SMART goals) to guide your tactical, day-to-day actions.

When you have a strategic goal in place, it becomes easier to decide what you’re going to do (tactics) and what you’re not going to do. This way, you will be less likely to see busyness as effectiveness…

Mistake #2: Confusing busyness with effectiveness

Social Media Resources Cartoon
Image by Sean R. Nicolson via Flickr cc

Yes, using a social media management tool like Hootsuite might help you manage the chaos. A little bit. But it’s not enough.

The problem is that small companies have limited resources (like time, money or people) to properly invest in specific activities (like social media). So when they try to do too many things, and become spread too thin, they’re not able to make significant strides in any one area.

However, if you have one (just one!) meaningful goal (i.e. “increase product sales by 20 percent”), it becomes easy to start turning down or ignoring things (like Pinterest) that might not fall directly in line.

Start with a SMART goal to reverse engineer success.


So, starting with the SMART goal you just identified above, you can reverse engineer success to see a plan fall into place.

Marathon runners are a great example of how to reverse engineer a goal. If a runner has a goal to participate in a marathon in one month from now, they create a running plan working from the date of the marathon to where they are now. It’s all about working back from a goal so that they know where to start today.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to prioritize and set boundaries.

Most productive (and successful) people don’t do a little bit of everything. Instead, they prioritize based on their return, knowing that some activities result in a higher return.

The Pareto Principle states that, essentially, 20 percent of your efforts create 80 percent of your rewards.

The trick is identifying which 20 percent generates that 80 percent. Your website’s analytics, engagement on Facebook (i.e. “People Talking About This”), and even going so far as to track your time while using these tools can help you spot what’s not working (and where to trim the fat) vs. what is working (and where to double your efforts).

Try not to let the other 80 percent get in the way, because your time is way too valuable.

Mistake #3: Spreading yourself too thin

Social Media Resources Cartoon
Image by Sean R. Nicolson via Flickr cc

Trying to manage seven different social media accounts (on top of everything else) is both exhausting and misleading. And you’re on a high road to nothing in doing so, because customers care more about quality and consistency rather than volume and scale.

So how can you leverage your time to get better results?

One way is through generating “thought leadership,” which means you can do a single activity (i.e. public speaking or writing for industry publications) and receive multiple benefits in return. You’re able to:

  • increase brand awareness
  • get facetime with customers
  • generate possible interested leads
  • and gain more website visitors or Twitter followers.

All at the same time, with a single investment of your time and energy.

To get started, look at how you can help local associations, nonprofits or universities using your expertise. Most of these organizations are starved for content and always on the lookout for people who can help. If all else fails (read: googling), Meetup.com is a worthwhile place to start.

For a more detailed guide on how to develop thought leadership, check out Forbes’ Using Thought Leadership to Grow.


Owning a business is both a blessing and a curse, because at the end of the day, everything falls on your shoulders. But social media mistakes don’t have to.

By creating goals to unify your efforts, slowing down to focus on the “big wins,” then keeping your eye on the most effective activities, you can become more successful in 2016.

Have you struggled with social media management and made any of these social media mistakes? What business plans are you making for 2016? Let us know in the comments section below!

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