Unfollowed: 8 Mistakes Businesses Make With Social Media


Running effective social media is deceptively difficult. When it comes to organic social media, many businesses don’t realize how they’re hurting their own brand or turning away potential customers. Here are the 8 most common social media mistakes businesses make and what to do instead.


✖ Mistake: Having a part-time person do literally everything

What goes into running social media?

Getting the best results requires quality content creation, engaging with the community, planning, scheduling, editing, creating and then following guidelines, analyzing results, applying analysis to future content creation, promoting posts on paid social after posting them organically, analyzing those results, and the list goes on and on…

It quickly becomes a full-time job.


  • As a social media manager and brand builder, Phoebe McPherson, says, “It’s just me… I can only organically engage with so many people on Twitter, create so much content, put out so many fires.” View full tweet.


Even a standalone social media manager needs support. Whether it’s people to look over copy and serve as a second set of eyes, a designer to help create visual content or even just an intern to delegate work to, your social media efforts will be much stronger with more than one person doing everything.

✔ Alternative: Support your social manager with a diverse team

✖ Mistake: Focusing on “going viral”

There’s a common misconception about how social media marketing actually works.

The real goal is to build long-term relationships and positive associations with your target market by creating and delivering content which they want to interact with. A return customer is always more valuable than a first-time customer. Developing this relationship is a steady, incremental process.


Don’t get me wrong: if you manage to luck out and go viral, then it’s possible to capitalize on it. But that’s a situation to take advantage of when it happens. Pursuing “viral” to grow your business won’t help.


First, it’s impossible to “engineer” viral content. You can output all sorts of content with the hallmarks of past viral videos or articles, but there’s absolutely no guarantee.

Second, even if your content goes viral, you’ll get an initial rush but it takes a delicate hand to invest in enough products, server bandwidth, etc. to support the rush but not overproduce. Without strong pre-existing relationships, virality is equally likely to get your hopes up than net you long-term profits.

✔ Alternative: Focus on consistent, quality content

✖ Mistake: Expecting immediate returns

By now, it shouldn’t be a surprise that organic social media is a long-term investment, not a short-term cash grab.


Like SEO, effective social media depends on incremental progress based on relevant, valuable content and continually perfecting your craft as the field shifts and changes.

More likely than not, you won’t see immediate returns on your social media efforts. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable. But since your goals are to build relationships and nurture customers, there are two obstacles in your way which can only be overcome with time.


First, your target audience has to start seeing your social media posts.

Second, you need to get data to learn what your optimal posting times are, what content your audience best resonates with, and how to leverage those to make the strongest relationship.


While you’re working on these, you’re laying the groundwork for future ROI. Don’t expect the money to flow in immediately.

✔ Alternative: Be patient

✖ Mistake: Only borrowing content

When you see a great image, phrase or theme on the Internet, you might want to use it. Why would you reinvent the wheel?

There’s a way to use other people’s content and give them recognition, but here’s why you still shouldn’t rely on it.


“Borrowing” doesn’t mean “retweeting”, “sharing” or another form of sharing the content that somebody else has made. That’s just engaging with the community. The issue here is that if you retweet a cute puppy video, your content is what you say about it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the video itself is your brand’s gift to your followers.

Sure, there are a thousand cute puppy videos out there, but making one at your doggie daycare (and showing off the facilities in the process) isn’t necessarily redundant. It actually asserts that your brand is as reputable as all the other puppy content creators. If you’ve been sharing/retweeting/etc. theirs, then they might return the favor and further establish your reputation.


When you borrow, steal, or even just conveniently remember something that another brand used, you’re imitating their voice and brand identity rather than forming your own. Of course taking inspiration is a time-honored tradition, but in order for that to be successful, you still need to apply your inspiring ideas or principles to what makes your brand unique.

The entire point of using social media for a business is to showcase your own brand identity and use that as a vehicle to form genuine relationships with potential customers. So if your identity is only a mishmash of other brands’ identities, that leaves your efforts wasted.

✔ Alternative: Use borrowed content to supplement your own content

✖ Mistake: Failing to establish your brand’s unique identity

So now you know that you’d like to make your own brand’s content. But first, before you start actually creating, let’s talk about how that looks: what your brand’s identity and style are.


If you avoid creating a brand style book, your content will be difficult to distinguish from any other brand’s. In effect, this will severely limit the value of creating content at all.


What should you include in your style book? Start by thinking about…

  • Colors (What feelings do you want your brand to embody?)
  • Shape & visual form (Geometric? Natural? Photographs or vector art? Filters or no filters?)
  • Voice & tone (Emojis, a few emoji options, or none at all? Professional, playful, clever?)
  • Hashtag use (How many? Which ones?)
  • Fonts (One to two, used in distinct situations: i.e., quotes vs headlines.)


All of these elements are critical for establishing your brand’s unique identity and personality. This is critical because your customers need to see your brand differentiated from others to build brand loyalty.

✔ Alternative: Establish a brand style book

✖ Mistake: Disregarding a content calendar

Your brand has a great personality, social media manager and expectations. Are you done?

Not yet.


Now you have to plan what you’ll post, and figure out when you can get the best responses to your posts.

Populating your content calendar is actually easier than it seems, and creating content ahead of time will give you breathing room when you have a fire to put out instead.


Here’s some ideas for what you could pay attention to:

  • How many times do you want to post per week?
  • Which major (i.e. Easter) and not-so-major (i.e. Love Your Pet Day) holidays are significant to your brand and relevant to your target market?
  • What is the news cycle for your industry? When are you expecting major developments?
  • Is your company sponsoring anything interesting?
  • If you have a blog, how often does it post?


A calendar can be built in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets; some companies swear by project management software or programs like Trello. Whatever you use to organize your content calendar, plan ahead and stick with it.

✔ Alternative: Create and follow a content calendar

✖ Mistake: Only promoting your business or products

A content calendar is all and well, but what do you schedule? Well, your social media is about your brand, so doesn’t it seem fair to mostly post about your upcoming sales, specials and new arrivals?


Customers respond to brands that have personality; post about great deals, but also post interesting and relatable content.

Find what your business is best positioned to see, and deliver that.


If your business sells candy to parents for holidays, try writing about the biggest trends for Halloween costumes, showing video highlights of great kids’ birthday party themes, or reviewing low-sugar or low-calorie treats for kids with restricted diets or allergies.

If your brand is a doggie daycare in a health-conscious area, try posting pictures of your puppies playing, giving recipes for healthy dog treats, or reviewing different collar styles and comfort.


There’s something unique about your business’s viewpoint and what your target market is interested in. Create content that’s relevant to your customers, and see what happens.

Engage with your target market, because quality relationships foster loyal customers.

Alternative: Engage to foster relationships

✖ Mistake: Relying solely on organic social

The truth is, these days, that a strong organic social presence isn’t enough to be successful on social media. With organic page reach dropping every month, you actually need two things.


First, you need to leverage your brand identity to create compelling content.

Second, you need to leverage paid social to get that content in front of more eyes.


An integrated strategy will help make the most of both pieces. Without both organic and paid social, you may be putting out great material, but nobody will know about it. Or, you’ll waste money promoting content that just isn’t compelling.

✔ Alternative: Integrate your paid and organic efforts

If you need help with leveraging paid social to make the most of your organic social media efforts, Contact Titan Growth for a free consultation.