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The 4 Worst Mistakes Marketers Make On Social Media

For brand marketers, social media can be a scary place to operate, where they’re held accountable for their actions at all times. If they post something offensive, the brand can face serious backlash.

When Pepsi thought it was smart to capitalize on a cultural movement like Black Lives Matterto sell more drinks, social media users indicated it was a bad idea.

When a Ryanair steward failed to act appropriately to a racist man  on one of its flights, social media users made it clear that the brand’s actions were inadequate.  

Here are four of the worst mistakes companies make on social media, with ways to prevent these errors in the future.

Mistake #1: Joining a conversation three days after it's relevant. Social media is a reactive medium, and brands often fail in their abilities to provide timely takes on cultural moments.

Laborious sign-off processes and safeguard measures can lead larger brands to react to cultural events too slowly. Often by the time their creative makes its way onto social, it's no longer relevant. 

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Solution: Understand when your brand should and shouldn’t speak on social. Ensure that anyone working on your social media team has a deep understanding of the company’s tone of voice, so you can trust those people to react quickly on social when needed.   

Mistake #2: Lacking self-awareness. Time and time again, brand marketers fail to understand how the company’s target audience perceives it.  When Chase decided to tweet "why is my balance so low" followed by the mocking of "poor people decisions," it displayed a lack of self-awareness. Financial institutions generally don’t have the best reputation for their ethics, so Chase’s posting of this satire was in poor taste. 

Solution: Don’t post for the sake of posting. Brands and agencies put too much pressure on team members to post a set number of times per day because they think this arbitrary quota will favor them algorithmically. Saying nothing is far better than saying the wrong thing. 

Mistake #3: Producing creative content without considering the different social media platforms it will live on. Far too often, brand marketers take the same creative from brand photoshoots, TV ads, and other marketing environments and post it on all of the company’s social channels, expecting it to perform. 

Solution: Consider the environment in which the brand creative is being viewed. Each platform has its own nuances, so for social media, produce content through a social-first lens. Develop content optimized for mobile viewing, in 1:1 or 9:16 ratio formats, with subtitles and meme bars. To take advantage of our world of endless scrolling, capture attention with the first three seconds of the creative. Consider the mindset that the viewer seeing the creative will be in, too. For example, I’m in a different mindset on Facebook than I am on YouTube -- or on Pinterest, where I’m looking for inspiration. 

Mistake #4: Controlling every aspect of influencer creative. Brand marketers naturally have to protect themselves, since a wrong creative step can have catastrophic consequences -- but controlling every aspect of an influencer’s creative can lead to inauthentic content that the influencer’s audience rejects.

Solution: Give the influencers you’re working with freedom to shape their creative. Influencers know how to create content their audiences will engage with. Provide clear guidance, with special attention on the things not to do, and set very clear goals. Aim to work collaboratively to shape the creative. 

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