Considering the age of the earth, digital marketing is relatively new ground. Cut yourself some slack if you don’t have social content marketing down perfectly yet. Even the biggest brands have stumbled along the way. Fortunately, as American business magnate Henry Ford put it, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

With that in mind, take an easier route and steer clear of the most common social media marketing mistakes.

1. Lacking Digital Presence

Opening Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts is a must-do for 21st-century brands. The Internet increasingly serves as the initial point of contact, and not just for millennials who are the marketplace as the largest demographic. A recent study found the 45–54 age bracket is the fastest growing on Facebook, and users aged 55–64 are the fastest growing segment on Twitter. Digital accessibility is important across the board.

2. Failing to Maintain Regular Contact

Launching a social media effort is exciting and makes a big splash! Unfortunately, many brands peter out as time passes, leaving consumers wondering if there are better options elsewhere. Maintaining steady engagement builds credibility with your followers, so invest the time in keeping those accounts active. Depending on the social media network of choice, you should expect to be making between 5–70 updates a week.

3. Unclear Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media platforms offer a wealth of opportunity, but without predefined goals, it’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of costly, fruitless endeavors. Set priorities and plan accordingly. Do you want to boost engagement with likes and shares, reach an entirely new audience, promote ideas and products, or cement your brand’s authority? The answer will determine the best course of action.

4. Missing Your Target Audience

Each social media network is unique, attracting a specific type of user. Professionals flock to LinkedIn. Do-it-yourselfers trade ideas on Pinterest. Periscope is home to live streamers around the world, while Instagram is known for its foodies and artists. With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and a growing list of others to choose from, maintaining a presence on every channel is impractical. A good rule of thumb is to define your target audience and select the three most suitable networks. When brands treat digital connections as relationships, taking the time to understand how users prefer to communicate, that audience will be more likely to pay attention.

5. Running from Negative Feedback

Chances are someone is going to post negative feedback about your brand at some point in time. Don’t panic. The online community knows “haters gonna hate,” so as long as your customer service team is appropriately responding, your brand’s reputation will likely survive. But that’s the key: respond. Don’t censor, don’t ignore, and don’t make excuses for unmet expectations. This is an incredible opportunity to show your organization’s personal touch and interest in engaging with followers. Welcome those honest opinions, acknowledge room for improvement when possible, and, remember, a personal apology goes a long way in resolving issues.

6. Sounding Like a Robot

At the start of the digital age, brands relied on corporate lingo to showcase their professionalism, but canned responses might as well stay in the can for all the good they do these days. Social media platforms are about connecting people with people, and as global social media strategist Sally-Anne Kaminski told CNBC: "It's about humanizing our brands and not just being a marketing engine. You have to have a voice and have a personality. If you are just pushing marketing, you are just a bulletin board."

7. Too Much Self-Promotion

Post a constant stream of advertisements, and even your most faithful fans will lose interest. Need ideas on how to spice up social content? Make it about your followers. Try flipping the camera around to give them an insider look at your brand. Share authoritative articles and link to content relevant to your audience’s interests. Host contests, ask questions, and put fans in the spotlight by featuring their comments and reviews. The point is to add value to their lives and create incentive for others to follow along as well.

8. Buying Fake Followers

Starting out with nothing is tough, but buying “likes” on social media is money down the drain. Those followers may boost your numbers, but the reality is they are not going to engage with your page. And the social networks take a dim view of such tactics. Take the time to build a strong network of engaged individuals. Slow and steady wins the race! It may take months, but those efforts will snowball and last forever.

9. Hashtag Mania

In an effort to be seen as relevant, some brands have made the mistake of hopping on hashtag bandwagons without knowing what it means—like when a pizza company accidentally barged in on a serious conversation about domestic abuse. Social media is constantly shifting, so always check context first. Another pro tip: when creating a new hashtag, read it out loud and have a few others look it over first to make sure the meaning is clear.

10. Not Responding Quickly

The Internet doesn’t do business hours. Consumers shop around the clock and, if they message your brand, they’re expecting a fast reply. That doesn’t mean marketing teams need to be on-duty at 2 a.m., but at least one person in your organization should be monitoring social media accounts daily. Leaving comments or questions unanswered gives visitors the impression you’re not there or you’re too busy to care – neither desirable for your brand image. One of the perks of social media platforms like TwineSocial is that all relevant posts can be compiled into an administrative hub for easy review.

11. Leaving UGC on the Networks

Many people put social media marketing in a box, leaving valuable user-generated content on the networks themselves. That’s a huge mistake. Consumers view fan content as far more authentic than corporate advertisements. The best brands are leveraging this social proof, incorporating UGC into e-commerce, and it is a crazy powerful combo.

12. Forgetting Analytics

Most everyone knows about SEO optimization and e-mail open rates, but few brands are utilizing social media analytics tools. Want to measure post popularity, follower demographics, engagement rates, and reach? Key performance indicators – KPIs – are a marketer’s dream, providing actionable insight to ensure your social media campaigns are getting the best results possible. Counting likes and follows isn’t social media marketing. To know how your efforts are impacting your business, you need to be looking at KPIs.

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 30-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!