Social is hard. We get it. It often feels like one big zero-sum popularity contest. But fret no longer, we come with solutions… 10 to be exact. They’ll cover the biggest mistakes we see small businesses making on social media. As an added bonus, they (almost) all cost zero dollars.

1. Being inconsistent

This no-no is three-fold, but let’s start with the importance of maintaining a consistent posting cadence. We’re not saying you should publish the exact same number of posts on the exact same day and time each week, but sticking to a pattern can help your brand stay at the top of your followers’ minds (and feeds). Establishing a consistent framework can also help you stay on track and alleviate the pressure of on-the-fly content creation.

Inconsistency can also come in the form of brand voice and visual aesthetic. If it sounds like multiple people are writing or producing your content, it makes it harder for current and potential fans to relate to your brand—which is one of the key purposes of using social media in the first place. Building a style guide early on is an invaluable exercise that will make it easier for staff members to collaborate on social media content creation.


2. Not defining your strategy

Style guides are crucial, but only account for a fraction of a social media content strategy. Identifying your primary social platforms, content themes, audience targets, and hashtags will help you ensure that your efforts are making a valuable contribution to your marketing goals.

Knowing your target audience is the first step toward building a solid strategy document. Fortunately Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Business Accounts all offer free ways to do a little harmless stalking into your audience’s demographic, interests, and behaviors. Use this data to inform your brand voice, content themes, and platforms.

Define the Strategy

3. Not establishing goals and KPIs

#Goals: you can’t create a very effective social media strategy without ‘em. Each of the most common social media goals—Awareness, Engagement, and Direct Response—have unique key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with them that will help you measure and evaluate your content’s efficacy, and inform the calls to action you write into your post copy. For example, if you’re looking for more traditional engagements (likes, comments, shares) to strengthen your relationship with your fans, you might end every post with an open-ended question or statement like, “Tell us your favorite way to stay active during the summer!” If you’re more focused on driving clicks, that call to action might switch to “Check out these deals to save on fitness classes this summer!”

Just as you can’t launch a paid Facebook campaign without first selecting your marketing objective, you shouldn’t produce content without first considering your goal for the post.

clear KPIs

4. Ignoring the numbers

Data drives strategy. Thus, taking the time to evaluate the performance of your social media content is invaluable to the success of your accounts. Fortunately, in addition to free audience insights tools, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, also offer free reporting tools to help you understand the fruits of your labor.

Upon gathering these metrics on a monthly and quarterly basis (recommended), you’ll be able to draw insights which will allow you to make data-driven optimizations to your social strategy. For example, are certain content themes outperforming others? Does different content resonate better with fans on one channel more than another? Taking the time to reflect on these insights will not only help you identify opportunities for content optimization, they’ll also provide tactical examples for your brand’s success on social.


5. Not responding to comments

From customer support to surprise and delight, community management is the gateway to your fandom. You may be tempted to hide—or worse—delete negative comments from unhappy customers. Don’t. Just as you wouldn’t ignore a disgruntled customer who approached you with a complaint in-store, you shouldn’t overlook an opportunity to make it right on social either. In fact, responding to negative comments with a sincere apology and solution can be instrumental to repairing your relationship with a potentially loyal customer.

respond to comments

6. Waiting for fans to come to you

One way to strike a healthy balance between promo-heavy and lifestyle content is to incorporate user-generated content (UGC) into your feed. UGC is content that your fans post on their feed that features your brand in some capacity without being prompted. Remember those hashtags up there that you’re going to start using?


7. Posting the same content on every platform

People use different social media channels for different types of content—and so should you! While Twitter is known as more of a hub for real-time trending content, users are flocking to Instagram to catalog their stylized, picturesque moments, and to Facebook for their BIG life updates. As you map out which messages are most important (and relevant) for your social channels, assess which platform is most appropriate along the way.

There’s no need to start from square one when mapping out your content calendar. Set yourself up for success by first defining a handful of content themes that represent your recurring social priorities. Each theme should serve a unique purpose. For example “Behind the Scenes” post copy and visuals should always embody the brand’s mission and values—this means a photo of an office birthday cake might not make the cut.   

treat each platform differently

8. Promoting your product too hard

You know that friend who won’t stop talking about herself? Yeah, no one wants to hang out with that girl. Keep this in mind when composing copy for your social posts. Stray away from “we this” and “we that,” and pepper in some “you guys” and “our fans” to demonstrate that you put your audience first.

We’re not saying that your social content should be absent of any direct written or visual mentions of your brand.

be humble

9. Not promoting your product enough

Facebook studies have shown that including more branded elements or products within your mobile video ad content can actually improve Ad Recall performance.

fb post

10. Treating your feed like your personal account

Say it with me, “My brand’s social media accounts and my personal social media accounts are two different things.” Feel better? I feel better. While spur of the moment selfies might work on your personal Instagram account, there’s a good chance they won’t click with your brand’s audience. If you find your brand’s account falling into that gray area between personal and business, it’s okay! There are plenty of ways to course correct. Take Instagram, for example. The memory-sharing platform recently introduced Archive, a feature that allows Instagram users to remove a post from their public feed without deleting the content for good. Brands might consider archiving posts that are no longer reflective of their social media strategy, or are simply poor quality.



This summer we invited small business owners and entrepreneurs to the ISL office for a series of knowledge sharing workshops designed to help them optimize their digital marketing efforts for success. My talk was called “Mastering Social Media” – it uncovered the who, what, where, when, and why of small business social media strategy. Business owners left with an understanding of social media best practices including how to understand their audience, develop a brand voice, and maximize content reach. The list of 10 mistakes scrapes the surface in terms of proactive solutions, but the deck, which you can find here, dives deep into how you can further improve your social media presence. I encourage you check it out. Past that, hit me up with any questions: