Even though it feels like we’ve been using social networks as part of our marketing efforts for a long time, in reality we’re still just feeling our way through the social media landscape. And really, can you blame us? The rules for social media seem to change nearly every day, as new features get added and old methods fall by the wayside. We all want to go viral, so to speak, but correctly predicting the next viral sensation is about as likely as correctly guessing tomorrow’s Powerball numbers.


Don’t get us wrong — there have been lots of successful social media marketing campaigns, and there will continue to be more. However, we do notice a lot of little errors that marketers make. Correcting any that you may be making could mean an uptick in your engagement numbers and, ultimately, your bottom line. Here are five of the more common mistakes that social media marketers make, along with some tips for how to avoid making them.


  1. Not listening to your followers.

Your posts on social media should be a conversation, not a lecture. However, too many marketers put messages out on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks and then don’t check back for comments or replies. This is a mistake — you want your followers to know that you’re as engaged with them as they are with you. Show that you’re attentive to their needs by following up regularly replying to concerns, liking positive comments, and keeping up with the ongoing discussion after you’ve made your initial post.


  1. Too much next, not enough pictures.

Social media is a highly visual medium, and it’s been well established that users respond much more to images than they do to text-only posts. Yes, it’s easier to post just text, but photos and graphics will, on average, have a much wider reach. Take the time to include great images with your posts.


  1. Relying too much on automation.

Automation is great: it can save you lots of time, and it even remembers to do tasks when you forget to do them yourself. However, the tradeoff is that these tasks can become a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” We’re not saying don’t automate, but what we are saying is take time, on a regular basis, to check your automation and make sure it’s helping as much as it should. This includes posting at the best times, notifying you of important flags, and more. It’s also good to update manually on a regular basis to customize your messages as much as possible. As with most things, it’s important to strike the right balance between automated tasks and personal attention.


  1. Forgetting to be informative.

Marketing is all about promoting your own company, right? Well, yes, but in today’s social media spaces, where marketing and branding and consumer feelings are all conflated, it’s a good idea to do more than just talk about how great you are. The best social media marketers know that providing useful information without a hard sell can go a long way to boost good feelings about a company. In the end, that can often translate to more sales better than a direct marketing message can.


  1. Not following trends and chatter.

What’s hot on social media today is cold tomorrow. Taking too long to shape a post, or ignoring what others are saying, can make you look out of touch. Part of effective social media marketing is watching for things like trending topics and hashtags, memes, and messages that are reaching large numbers of people.


Are you making any of these social media marketing mistakes? We hope not, but if you are, taking measures to correct them could make a big difference in your marketing reach. And of course, it’s always a great idea to assess your strategies from time to time to see what’s working and fix what isn’t.