More of the Biggest Social Media Mistakes Brands Make

by Gregg on February 22, 2013

Saw this piece on recently about the five biggest social media mistakes brands make, which according to writer Jessica Malnik are:

  1. You think you are your audience.
  2. You assume there’s a direct correlation between the number of "likes" and sales.
  3. You think just being present is enough.
  4. You buy in to data overload.
  5. You keep social media in a silo.

Know what? I agree with all five, and Jessica’s rationale. But why limit it to five? I’ve got a few more that I’d like to suggest.

You think your followers can’t wait for all that content you blast out on a regular basis. Social media is based on engaging with the people that have chosen to follow your brand and, as I’ve argued elsewhere on this blog, actually connecting with them as well. Having a lot of content to draw on is fine, but at the end of day, is it helping your followers? Is it empowering them to solve their problems? Carefully using content as part of the engagement process to do just that will make your brand a trusted resource and a thought leader.

You assume you have to be on all social media channels. Or, you assume you have to be on just one. Authors like Marty Neumeier suggest that some brands have a following that’s almost tribal. Take that logic and apply it to social media. Let’s say your followers are a tribe – if so, where do they congregate? Social media monitoring can help you find that out so you can target them. Just because your competitor has a slick Facebook account doesn’t mean that your tribe is there as well – it may be on Twitter, Google+ or even Pinterest. But you won’t know that without some data.

You think anyone can effectively manage social media. If you think that, I’d direct your attention to R.L. Stollar’s blog, which gives a blow-by-blow account of Applebee’s social media disaster of earlier this month involving the server it fired for posting on Twitter an ill-advised note from a customer written on a receipt. Stollar’s post is titled "Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown: A Photo Essay," and he’s not kidding – he’s got screen captures of virtually every mistake made by whoever was manning Applebee’s Facebook account during that episode. (Publishing an apology at 2:53 a.m.? Please.) And I know Jessica hates data overload, but consider that tens of thousands of negative comments were made to Applebee’s Facebook account related to that incident. Stollar’s post got more than 1,000 comments. And now I’m talking about it here. The lesson: Get proof that whoever would manage your social media is competent.

Social media is no longer a sidelight (or an option) for a brand. Neither is a cavalier attitude about it, because a brand’s reputation is online 24/7.

(Image credit to

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Malnik February 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Three great tips, Gregg. The second one is especially important. You don’t have to be on every new shiny social media site. Figure out where your audience is, and go there.

Thanks for responding to my post! 🙂


Gregg February 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Jessica: Agree – the issue there, I think, is that a new channel comes along, there’s a lot of press about it, and so that means to some brand execs, “We HAVE to be there.” But what does the data say? That was the case about a year ago with Pinterest. Looking at your social media followers as a community – or, like I said last night, a tribe – is a different mindset but one that makes the most sense, especially in light of limited resources, like time. Target those resources to the channels that really matter.


Mike Carrozzo March 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

First off, as always, some very insightful commentary. With you first tip about providing content that helps your followers solve business problems, I agree, but argue that such a result isn’t always measurable. To me this can be the most difficult part about developing a social media strategy. First off you need killer content, without a doubt. But taking that next step and being the conversation starter around that content is what will be key. Often, as is the norm in this day and age of 24/7 content, by the time you present content to your readers they have most likely read it 10 times elsewhere. So I often ask myself things like, did I present the content in a new and unique light to the reader? What was the next step they took after that? I’d argue that 9 times out of 10 that next step is the hardest thing to measure. Getting that engagement is gold in my opinion.


Gregg March 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Mike: Totally agree about engagement, and also agree that the result of that engagement, the actual solving of a follower’s problem, isn’t easy to measure. Here’s what I’m thinking – the killer content (whether it’s a whitepaper, tutorial video, archived webinar, etc.) needs to be approached like a library. At a library, you’ve got hard copy books, books on CD, movies of books, etc. So multiple ways for people to access that knowledge, and the job of the community manager, then, is to engage – and as I’ve argued, actually connect – with followers, to get to know them as personally as appropriately as possible, and then make that content available to in the means that makes the most sense to them. Then, with that engagement/connection established, the follow up becomes more proactive, which increases the possibility of actual measurement.

The key is to create a community, or like I said above, almost a tribe.


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