The don’ts and don’ts of social media marketing for SMBs

Social MediaCategory
6 min read
Noah Plumb

I’m just gonna get this out of the way here at the top: I’ve made mistakes managing social media marketing for @GoDaddy. Yep, on my watch we’ve tweeted an employee’s password. We’ve targeted English ads to non-English-speaking audiences. We’ve even tweeted the gibberish generated by a cat stretched across a keyboard. Maybe our biggest mistake? We paid for followers. Ouch. We’re not perfect, but we learned from our blunders and got better.


No one wants to tell you that social media marketing is hard.

It is, though. Not like spelling e-n-t-r-e-p-r-e-n-e-u-r-i-a-l from memory hard or tightrope-walk-across-the-Grand-Canyon hard, but like did-I-leave-the-oven-on-before-I-left-for-work hard and remember-your-mother-in-law’s-alma-mater hard.

It’s hard to feel confident that you’re *doing it right* when you don’t know what doing it right looks like.

Whether you’re just getting started with social, or you’re experimenting with various social media marketing strategies to grow your business, it’s easy to stumble. The important thing is picking yourself back up, shaking off the dust, and doing your best not to make the same mistake twice.

Social Media Marketing Slipup

Social media marketing missteps

That said, here are some common mistakes to avoid when using social media marketing for your small business.

1. Don’t forget the point of all this.

Social media marketing has one goal: to grow and sustain your business. Every single thing you do on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest work toward that goal — and can be measured.

Anything that doesn’t increase brand affinity or attract new customers or improve customer loyalty is a waste of your time and money.

Decide what’s important to you, measure it, and regularly check in on your progress. Social media is a long-term play, and measuring your investment and progress will help you recognize the return over the long haul.

Pro tip: Research what’s important to track in. Find a few metrics to track and stick to them.

2. Don’t think you have to be everywhere all the time.

People are gonna tell you that you need a Facebook and a Twitter and an Instagram and a YouTube and a LinkedIn and a Google+ and all that. You don’t. Choose a network that works for you and your business based off of the long-term social media marketing goals you’ve established.

Pro tip: Consider Facebook first. Everybody has a Facebook profile, and it has the best tools to represent your business and engage your customers and fans.

3. Don’t neglect your brand.

On branding: Resist the temptation to share kitty pics and fail vids. Instead, share quality content that’s valuable to your followers and aligns to your business’s products, services and style.

Remember who’s in control.

On moderation: Remember who’s in control. Moderate inappropriate comments, and yes, it’s OK to ban users sometimes. Don’t feed trolls, but address legitimate concerns with confidence and transparency. Take conversations offline when necessary.

Pro tip: Take a step back from your social profiles and every post you publish. Consider how it looks to the people you’re addressing and the people you’re not — people who like you and your business, people who don’t, your competitors, your peers, your current customers, and your potential customers.

4. Don’t forget that it’s *social* media.

I get that you’re super excited to let the world know about your new emoji throw pillows, but take a deep breath before grabbing your Twitter blow horn. Think about how much value you’ve provided the community before asking for shares and clicks and comments and likes.

Pro tip: Kick off your social media presence by listening and adding value to conversations about something other than your company, your products, and yourself. Help someone out. Congratulate another. Encourage a third. Once you’re comfortable with the medium and have made some connections there, you’ve earned the right to *begin* promoting yourself (in moderation).

5. Don’t automate all your junk.

Automatically publishing the same content to multiple platforms can be done through your social platforms themselves or through third-party tools and apps like IFTTT and Hootsuite. It’s called “syndication.” When you overuse it, it’s also called “lazy” and it can create complications you may not expect.

It seems spammy. If your customers follow you on all the social networks you’d like them to, you look socially thirsty asking them to view and engage with the same content on multiple platforms.

It can be sloppy. On Twitter, it’s a great idea to include an @mention to attract attention. If that tweet is syndicated to Facebook, you’re left with a post that includes syntax for another platform. How likely are your fans going to be to engage with you if they can’t even tell if you logged into Facebook to post?

It’s harder to clean up. Ever had a typo? Let the cat out of the bag too early on Twitter? Deleting a single tweet just after it was posted isn’t too hard. As you might imagine, a syndicated mistake takes longer to clean up.

Pro tip: Go slow at first. Focus on quality over quantity, polish over reach. While timeliness is critical in social moderation and engagement, there’s no rush to get that next post out.

6. Don’t use a Facebook Profile (personal account) to represent your business.

Personal Facebook Page

Facebook Profiles are for regular people, users of the service; Pages are for businesses, brands, public figures and places. Creating a Profile for your business is a mistake. Profiles have a limit to the number of friends you can have, while pages have unlimited “Likes,” aka followers.

Pro tip: Set up a proper Facebook Page.

And finally, what may be the most important don’t on the list …

7. Don’t forget what it’s like to be on the other side.

Sure it’s easy to to complain publicly to get your s&*t prioritized, but don’t be a jerk about it. You’ll know what I mean when you have to start addressing complaints directed this way toward your business.

Here’s to spending more time building awesome stuff and less time cleaning up after yourself. I’d love to hear what you think of my points above. Tweet me.