Today I have an awesome guest post from Zachary Jarvis over from Magnate talking about the 10 things NOT to do on social media. And boy did Zachary bring the heat…

Zachary Jarvis is a Digital Marketer with one thing on his mind: Results. Uninspired by the never-ending talk of ‘vanity metrics’ in the world of digital marketing, Magnate was founded – the ‘Social-First’ marketing agency.  On the very rare occasion, he isn’t watching Step Brothers in his spare time – you’ll find Zachary in the thick of social platforms, learning what makes us tick. This is driven by a fascination (perhaps a slight obsession…) with market trends and consumer behaviours.

Let me know if you think Zachary brought the heat with this post because we all know how difficult social media can be. IT IS A BIT OF A BEAST.

I’m sure Zachary has helped tamed the beast but showing us the 10 mistakes he made on social media. It’s always great to learn from other people’s mistakes… So definitely learn from his!

Anyway… Let’s hand it over to Zachary!

10 things not to do on social media

If you’re a digital nomad then you’re probably at the cutting edge. That being said… you also probably work on your own and you don’t have the benefit of working with people who can help you sidestep mistakes. When you work on a project, you learn a lot of things. You also make a lot of mistakes.

Don’t you just wish that there was a time machine so you could go back and tell yourself the mistakes to avoid? Consider this blog that time machine. These are mistakes that I made (with my team – I want to give them credit for making mistakes too) so you don’t have to.

These are all lessons that we learned the hard way. Lessons learned the hard way have a habit of sticking with you – but we’d all prefer to avoid them. Some of these mistakes seemed obvious in hindsight – but we had no idea we were making them at the time. Whatever new and unusual mistakes you make that aren’t covered here – make sure you follow this one piece of advice: learn from them.

1. We didn’t set a goal.

There needs to be a purpose behind everything you do. Putting up a post because you’ve told a client you will put up five posts a week is not enough purpose. Making sure that post does something towards achieving a set aim or goal is. Also, that goal has to be specific – making more money may be the ultimate goal for a business, but it’s too vague for social media marketing.

You need to focus on something like growing brand awareness, or having more click-throughs to the website. If you know what each piece of content you put out is meant to do, then it’s easier to see if you have been successful (and if it needs to be refined or changed). By setting a clear aim or goal for each piece of content, you can then see by KPI if they have been successful.

With the focus of a set goal, you can tangibly see what parts of the machinery of your sales funnel are working and not working so that you make sure that the whole of your process is a well-tuned machine. In the short term, it will help you to achieve a small achievable goal (eg. having more video views): in the long term it will improve your whole strategy

2. We didn’t have a clearly defined strategy.

Especially when a client is demanding results – it can be easy to try and do everything at once. You put out a piece of content that tries to attract people by entertaining them, get them interested, give them information to help them make a decision and include a call to action to try and convert them, Attract, Interest, Decision, Action – all in one place.

What could be four effective posts gets mashed into one and becomes an ineffective mess. People who have never heard of the brand before get put off because of the hard sell. People who know the brand may not even get to the special offer because of the amount they have to get through. There is no clear strategy. Having four posts which focus on each of these elements will get better results.

The first post should grow your audience. The second makes them interested in your brand. The third shows your value and the fourth converts. This is a sales funnel – it’s a clear process with defined objectives at each level. It allows for retargeting, focusing on specific demographics and split testing to refine the process. It helps to define your aim, and pinpoint what isn’t working if your objective isn’t being achieved.

3. We put out too much content.

Although it’s good to have a clearly defined purpose for each piece of content, and a defined strategy – you need to be wary of creating too much content. People suffer from ad fatigue. If they see your brand too much on social media, they will come to resent you ‘spamming’ their feeds.

One of the temptations about putting out a ‘multi-funnel’ piece of copy, is that everything gets done at once. However, people don’t like being sold to. They need to make a genuine connection and go on a customer journey. They need time to make up their mind, until the call to action – where ideally they should commit and convert. The four posts in the example above should probably be put out over the course of a week, building up the audience and their willingness to commit before dangling the special offer in front of them.

4. We didn’t put out enough content.

On the other hand, you don’t want to create too little content. A post every day or so will still keep you front of mind with a Facebook audience. A post every week, every month, or on an irregular schedule will mean that your brand is forgotten amongst all the new information they are presented with.

If your strategy is to put a post out every other day on Facebook, then you can’t just replicate that pattern if you also include Twitter in your strategy. To be seen on Facebook, one post a day will probably put you on someone’s feed. To be seen on Twitter, because of the constant influx of new tweets and no weighting, you may need to post between 7 and 50 times a day (depending on your objective).

You need to research your platform and make sure your level of content is appropriate to the platform and the audience. One of the reasons social media marketing is migrating from Twitter to Facebook is because it’s a smaller audience that requires more content to attract.

5. We changed our strategy too quickly.

It’s important to thoroughly research and understand your business and their audience before you start to create content. Once you have and start to put out a campaign – then you need to have the confidence to let the campaign run.

People don’t automatically buy from you the first time they hear about your business, or the second – or maybe even the third, even if your product is the thing they’re desperately looking for. There is a cumulative effect in advertising. A campaign has to run before it is proven to be a success or failure.

It’s easy to think ‘something’s not working’ and then to try something completely new – you may decide to change platform, or content length – even the approach of your creative. The whole point of this blog is about learning from mistakes. If you spend a lot of time making sure this is the right content before making it – then you need to see why it hasn’t worked. Split test, change the audiences, tweak the copy – give it time.

6. We took the data at face value.

When you drill down into the data to see what has gone wrong with a campaign – make sure that you take time looking at the numbers. Firstly, you need to compare to see what has changed. It could be that you have written a piece of content that’s great for closing but was placed too high up in the sales funnel.

By properly analyzing the data, you can see if your starting point was wrong – or if you’re joining up two dots that don’t exist. Also, part of letting a campaign run is so that you get a decent sized data set to base your analysis on. A data set that’s too small means that you are basing your judgement on a random and not a representative sample.

7. We didn’t try new things.

Once you have made enough mistakes, you get yourself into a position where things are working. The instinct when you have finally got things right is to play it safe and carry on doing what you’re doing. That’s not a position you can take in social media marketing.
Twitter quickly shifted to Facebook, Snapchat Stories were starting to gain traction until Instagram Stories was launched.

By trying out new things, you may be the one of the first to gain advantage from using them. People are always interested in new technology, and being agile as social media marketers mean that we have to find an audience where their attention already is. It’s also important to try new things to see if they are a ‘flash in the pan’ fad that momentarily distracts or something that will be part of social media’s evolution.

8. We focused too much on the competition.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition. Firstly, it helps you understand the marketplace so that you know what works and what doesn’t work. There is a danger though if you watch your competitors (or your client’s competitors) too much, there is a temptation to play them at their own game and challenge them directly.

The danger with this is that it can rob you of your creativity and have the side effect of turning the audience off both your brand and your competitors, as they see you both as exactly the same thing and experience accelerated ‘ad fatigue’. Better to be aware of what your competitors are doing, and make sure that your approach makes you stand out.

9. We scaled our campaigns too quickly.

When something works, then you want to capitalise on it. That means you can be tempted to scale a campaign. Be warned, unless you have also done the work on building your audience, scaling your campaign too quickly can be a very bad thing.

In a Facebook campaign, if you scale too early – a campaign that was successful because it appealed to your custom audience may not appeal to a larger audience. As Facebook charges less for a relevant campaign, scaling too quickly to an audience which isn’t likely to be as interested will cost more for each person reached. As you will be reaching more people, this cost is multiplied – and you end up with bad CPC/CPM/CTR/Conversion costs when you do this.

10. We forgot why people are on social media.

When you’re promoting a business, it’s easy to focus on the needs of that business rather than the needs of the audience. It’s important to meet your business objectives and aims but unless you think about the people who will become customers, those objectives and aims won’t be met.

You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and ask yourself questions like these: What will get their attention? What will interest them? What will help them make their decision? What will make them take action? What social platform will they use? What time of day will they look at it? What device will they look at it on? What other companies are they looking at? What other things do they like that tie in with my brand?

Ultimately, people are on the Internet for one of two reasons: to have a problem solved, or to be entertained. If they need a problem solved, they do a search. If they go to social media, they are primarily going there to be entertained. If you can solve their problem when they’re there, that’s great – but if you aren’t going to entertain them or give them interesting information – they will just scroll down to the next post


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