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5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

A tip sheet for dodging costly, time-consuming missteps and what you should be doing instead.



A tip sheet for dodging costly, time-consuming missteps and what you should be doing instead.

December 11, 2020 10 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I first got into marketing, it was long enough ago that a lot of people said the internet would just be a fad. Several years later, when social media started to become a thing, most people said the same about that. Today, it’s clear how ludicrous those theories were, but there is still a tremendous amount of misinformation about social media.

A lot of people have over- or under-inflated expectations of the results they should anticipate, how much work goes into it and how they should best utilize it. That misinformation hurts them, either directly by doing the wrong things and hurting their brand, or indirectly, by wasting time and money on ineffective strategies and tactics.

I want to help you avoid those costly and time-consuming mistakes so you can build the business you deserve, serve more people and bring more value into the world. So let’s talk about some of the common mistakes people make in social media, how to avoid them and what you should be doing instead so you can maximize your results.

Related: How Did This 16-Year-Old Girl Amass 100 Million Followers On TikTok?

Inconsistent posting activity

A lot of people start off super-motivated about their social media, but that motivation quickly wanes for most.

That mindset is understandable. Entrepreneurs are incredibly busy to begin with, so when you couple that with the fact that many have unrealistic expectations in terms of how long it takes to see results, it’s easy to see why they often stop soon after starting. But most understand the importance of social media, so they keep trying, which leads to a cycle of repeated starting and stopping.

The problem created here is multifaceted. First is the issue of momentum. If you’ve ever had to push a broken-down vehicle before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s significantly easier to keep it moving than it is to get it moving from a dead stop.

Once you get into a routine with your social media efforts, you’ll find that you start to exponentially increase your results without an exponential increase in work. It will become easier to block out the necessary time, come up with content ideas and engage with followers.

The second issue is audience perception. When customers see you show up inconsistently on social media, with weeks or months in between posts, they will question your consistency in general. On the other hand, when they see you consistently posting valuable content day in and day out, they will assume you are equally consistent in other aspects of your business.

Third are the algorithms that determine what shows up in people’s feeds. When you post consistently, you will “train” the algorithm to show your content to more people more frequently — assuming, of course, that your audience finds it useful. As a result, more people will engage with your content, indicating to the algorithm that it’s valuable and should be shown to even more people. It doesn’t take a genius to see how this can snowball into massive exposure.

Posting off-brand content

It can sometimes seem difficult to come up with enough content to maintain a strong presence on social media. In an effort to fill the gaps, some people choose to post content that, while possibly interesting, informative or entertaining, is disconnected from their brand. This is the equivalent of talking just to talk, and it hurts your brand because it dilutes what your brand is about.

The “rules” vary a bit from platform to platform, and even from brand to brand, but the basic premise is that while it doesn’t necessarily have to always be about your business, everything you post needs to align with your brand’s core values and personality.


A good approach is to select three to five core topics that you’re passionate about as your foundation. For example, my topics include:

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Veterans
  • Resilience
  • Freedom

Any piece of content I develop for social media is going to fall into one of these categories. You need to take the same approach.

When selecting your topics, it’s important that at least one or two can be connected directly to the products or services you provide through storytelling and analogies, and that each of your three to five topics are tightly ingrained with what your brand stands for.

Generally, one or two will be directly related to what you do for your customers, and the remaining topics will be based on who you are and why you do what you do.

The first group is obvious because it’s what you do. The second group may be less obvious, but often just as (if not more) important, because people typically choose a brand based on whether it aligns with their own values.


Each social network is its own unique environment and what works on one may not work on another, and what’s acceptable on one may turn off customers on another. There could even be unique nuances within a network.

For example, you can typically post things on your personal Facebook profile that, while on brand, may not be ideal for your public-figure page on the same network. And content that works great for Facebook may not be ideal for Instagram or Twitter without some substantial reworking.

It’s important to understand who your audience is and what resonates with them on each platform.

Asking friends to like/follow your page

This is easily one of the most common mistakes, and we’ve all seen the innocent posts leading up to it.

Someone might open a post with a story about how they’re trying to grow their business, serve more people or even get around Facebook’s abysmal organic reach, and then segue into asking their connections to like their page.

On the surface, this seems harmless. After all, what’s wrong with more people liking your page? The reality is this can have profoundly detrimental effects.

Most pages don’t have many followers to begin with, and for a lot of brands, a majority of those followers are friends and family who will never buy. And because they aren’t potential customers, they likely won’t engage with that brand’s content.

This negatively skews your engagement rate, which hurts your organic reach. In other words, when a lower percentage of people engage with your content, the algorithm that powers the feed will assume people aren’t interested in the content, so it will start showing it less frequently. Unsurprisingly, this creates a vicious downward spiral, resulting in obscurity.

Inviting people who aren’t potential customers to like your page increases your follower count, but it also skews your actual engagement with “ghost” followers so you’ll reach fewer people. Instead, focus on building an audience of engaged potential customers.

Adding random people to your groups

We all hate being added to irrelevant groups without our permission, and yet there is no mechanism to prevent it.

Every day, I’m added to a number of groups — sometimes by good-intentioned friends, sometimes by people trying to push a political ideology and other times by sleazy marketers who are “just trying to help me out” with their “awesome” products or services. In all cases, the end result is typically the same: We immediately have a negative perception of their brand as a result.

There are cases where it’s acceptable to invite people to your group without a conversation ahead of time, but only when you already have a real relationship (as opposed to someone you’re just connected with) and you genuinely know they would be interested. To put it in context, I recently launched a group that I’ve been planning for a while, and I only invited 0.008% of my connections.

Inviting random people to a group without their permission puts marketers on the same level as those people manning the kiosks in the mall who try to chase you and sell you their garbage when you walk by. It’s sleazy and desperate, and it creates a bad impression of your brand.

Another downside is that having a bunch of disinterested, unengaged people in your group destroys your engagement. This hurts you algorithmically, meaning that because fewer people are engaging with your content, Facebook will begin showing it to fewer people. It also hurts you from a brand perception perspective. Think about it like this: What kind of impression would you have if you went to a group with thousands of people, but the posts in that group had little to no likes or comments? This is why it’s critical that we get the right people in our groups.

A better approach, rather than simply clicking that “invite” button and adding a bunch of names, is to invite them manually, through email, DM or even organic or paid posts. This gives them the option to join if they’re interested, without forcing it on then. It also helps to ensure that you get the right people in your group.

Putting social media on autopilot

A lot of tasks can and should be automated, but some people take this too far. Certain aspects of social media can be automated, but not your entire campaign.

Where most people go wrong is they sign up for some social media posting tool like Meet Edgar, Hootsuite or Buffer, queue up a bunch of posts — usually, it’s just links to their articles — and just let it ride. They don’t bother to engage with their audience, and as a result, two things happen.

The first issue is that their audience sees they don’t really care about them. It becomes clear that they’re only using social media to blast their message to anyone who happens to see it. Kind of like those mall kiosk salespeople we talked about earlier. It’s not a good look.

This has both immediate and long-term negative impact on your brand, and also leads to the second issue. The second issue is that the algorithm begins to demote their content because no one is interested in it. Fewer people seeing it means even less engagement, which means even fewer people will see it, which means even fewer people will see it, which means…. I think you get the idea. If you’re old enough, this situation might remind you of the old public service announcement about cocaine back in the 1980s that seemed to run at every commercial break. Basically, it creates a powerful downward spiral that can often be difficult to climb back from.

Related: How Startups Can Leverage Social Commerce

If you want solid results from your social media efforts, you have to do more than just posting a steady stream of content. You have to actually engage with your audience and show them that you actually care about them.




The Unbearably High Price of ‘Free’

Using the word ‘free’ in your marketing is a quick way to get attention, but it’s also a double-edged sword that has tripped up a lot of businesses.



Using the word ‘free’ in your marketing is a quick way to get attention, but it’s also a double-edged sword that has tripped up a lot of businesses.

Free Book Preview: Brand Renegades

Discover how two entrepreneurs used unconventional business strategies to turn their startup into a multimillion-dollar company.

June 13, 2021 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the most powerful words in the English language is the term “free.” Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

  • “Buy one get one free.”
  • “Get a free gift with purchase, valued at $499.”
  • “Get a free eye examination.”
  • “Try our membership for FREE.”
  • “Get FREE delivery”

It seems like just about every company uses some kind of “free offer” in their marketing. So why is the term “free” used so liberally?

Because, frankly, it works — by appealing to our basic human emotion of greed.

The word “free” has appeared in more advertisements than there are grains of sand on a beach. And it goes way back to the genesis of advertising when giving free samples was the best (and only) new way to get customers. So what makes “free” work so well?”

Free gets attention. It makes people feel like they are getting a great deal. On a subconscious level, it works in reverse, too — you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t take advantage of something for free.

But using the word “free” in your marketing can be a double-edged sword, especially if you don’t use it correctly.

Related content: The 5 Triggers of Psychological Pricing

Is there a wrong way to use the term “free” in your marketing?

Absolutely. There are thousands of ways that using the term “free” in your marketing can trip you up, reduce your product or service value, and do irreparable damage to your brand.

Let me give you a real example. One of our clients was in the business of producing extremely high-end Italian-made leather shoes and bags for men. Their most famous pair of boots retailed for $3,500. Their most popular bag, a messenger-style laptop bag, retailed for $950. The company’s previous marketing agency advised them that the best way to double their boot sales would be to offer the messenger bag for free.

As far as irresistible offers go, that’s a pretty good one, and it did in fact, increase sales of the boots — in the short term. But it was a strategic disaster in the long term because now they had conditioned their clients to expect the messenger bag for free.

In other words, by offering it for free, they had completely devalued that product (remember it was the company’s top-selling bag.) Even worse, by offering something of high perceived value for free, they had also damaged their own luxury brand. Why would people ever pay full price again?

The good news is that people have a short attention span, and with the right strategic pivot and messaging, you can erase the damage of using “free.” But it takes time.

The same dangers apply when you start using discounts in your business. If you discount your products, why would people ever pay full price? They just wait for them to go on sale. When our Italian client came to us, they had a branding and sales disaster on their hands through no fault of their own. Fortunately, we were able to get them out of their pickle by repositioning their products and reinventing their brand — a move that resulted in them being purchased eighteen months later by a competitor.

Moral of the story: Using a free offer can be a slippery slope and must be used sparingly and carefully.

Related: The Price Is Right: How to Price Your Product for Long-Term Success

Before using “free” in your business, ask yourself:

  • Does this have a real value that we depend on for revenue?
  • By offering this item or service for free, will this adversely impact another related service or product (for example, if you offer the first consult for free, and expect to be paid for all future consults)?
  • Why are we considering offering something for free? What else could we offer that would help us achieve the same result?
  • What if it’s not your business using “free”, but your competitors?

    Now, if you’re on the other side of the fence and your competitor is offering something for free that you are charging for, it’s time to put your marketing into high gear.

    Just because there is no money exchanged doesn’t mean that it’s not paid for in other ways — for example, in lost time, huge frustration or poor quality.

    Think of the experience and quality of “free” healthcare versus a private plan. Draw these analogies in your marketing to establish your value in the minds of your clients.

    “Free” is still a mighty word used to grab attention in marketing. But handle with extreme caution, and don’t be lured into using it to stimulate short-term sales at the expense of long-term growth.

    Related: 3 Lessons About Setting Your Price Learned From a Vegas Prostitute

    It seems like just about every company uses some kind of “free offer” in their marketing. So why is the term “free” used so liberally?



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    Have You Stashed Too Much Money in Your Emergency Fund?

    Think you’re totally set with a full year of expenses set aside in an emergency fund? Hold up. You might have too much socked into liquid assets. Read on to learn more about how much is too much for your emergency fund.



    Think you’re totally set with a full year of expenses set aside in an emergency fund? Hold up. You might have too much socked into liquid assets. Read on to learn more about how much is too much for your emergency fund.

    Free Book Preview Money-Smart Solopreneur

    This book gives you the essential guide for easy-to-follow tips and strategies to create more financial success.

    June 10, 2021 6 min read

    This story originally appeared on MarketBeat

    Last year heralded the case for a robust emergency fund. As people lost jobs left and right due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably checked and double-checked your emergency fund (I know I did).

    However, have you ever thought about how so much of a good thing can be just that — too much? Your emergency fund could end up way too plump.

    Where People Usually Put Their Emergency Funds

    Where do most people stash money in order for it to remain truly accessible? Most people put their funds in one of the following categories:

    • High-yield savings accounts: You usually find high-yield savings accounts at online banks, not at brick-and-mortar banking institutions. (They don’t have much overhead due to their status as online banks, so they can offer higher returns.) High-yield savings accounts usually earn around 0.50% annual percentage yield (APY).
    • Money market accounts: A money market account, also called a money market deposit account, offers a deposit account that pays you interest based on current interest rates in the money markets. You can find money market accounts at local banks. Money market accounts often come with a debit card and check-writing capabilities.
    • Checking or savings accounts: You won’t earn much interest with checking or savings accounts at a brick-and-mortar bank. Earnings for both of these types of accounts can range from 0.03% to 0.04%. However, you can access your money at any time, which means that these accounts offer major liquidity.

    Any of these options make sense because you can easily get your money out when you need it. However, if you put too much money into any one of these, you could risk a lack of growth and put yourself at a disadvantage, tax-wise.

    Before you choose the right vehicle for you, check rates, fees and withdrawal rules.

    Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Too Much

    Emergency savings offers so many great things — to a point. Let’s take a look at the downsides to putting an overly large amount in your emergency fund.

    Downside 1: Your money may not grow.

    Where do people usually park an emergency fund?

    Somewhere liquid and highly accessible, like a money market account or a high-yield savings account, right? You want to have access to that money the second your boss says, “Sorry, but I have some bad news…”

    Here’s the deal. Let’s say you save $1,000 at 0.01% APY. After a year, you’ll end up with just $1,000.10. If you put the same $1,000 in a retirement account that earns 6%, you would earn $1,062 after a year. See how you could lose out?

    Most accounts that offer a safe haven for your money often don’t offer ample returns.

    The average stock market return hovers around 7%, three times higher than any high-yield savings account rate offered anywhere today.

    Downside 2: You could lose out on the tax front.

    When you focus on saving in your emergency fund too much, you may neglect your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, which could include 401(k) plans, IRAs, 457 plans or 403(b) accounts.

    Let’s say you have the opportunity to contribute $6,000 into a traditional IRA. Your contributions get deducted from your taxable income. You would only pay taxes on the remaining balance.

    Let’s say you make $60,000 per year. Your taxable income automatically gets reduced $6,000 to $54,000 from your traditional IRA tax deduction.

    What happens when you save your money in a high-yield savings account instead of a tax-advantaged account? You miss out on that reduced taxed income.

    Downside 3: You may not clear out your debt.

    You may hear so much about the importance of emergency funds that you ignore the fact that you still need to pay off debt. That begs the question: What kind of debt do you have? Credit card debt? Student loan debt? You may want to pay down those debts first and then tackle your emergency fund. Or you can save $1,000 for emergencies to start out and then tackle any outstanding debt.

    Downside 4: You may sacrifice other goals.

    When you don’t contribute to your kids’ savings accounts, to your own retirement or maybe even save for a down payment on a house, stop and ask yourself why.

    A gargantuan emergency savings might not mean much when you’re stuck putting a vacation on a credit card or forgoing a child’s college savings account altogether.

    So… How Much Should Go in Your Emergency Fund?

    Obviously, this answer depends on a few factors, including your current income amount. Many financial experts advise saving three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

    For example, let’s say you generally spend about $4,000 per month on general expenditures, such as your mortgage payment, utilities, food, health care premiums and other items. You should save between $12,000 and $24,000.

    However, you may want to adopt the 3/6/9 rule instead, depending on your job situation. In other words, you may want to:

    • Save three months of expenses if you have a steady paycheck, have no mortgage or dependents.
    • Save six months of expenses if you have a steady paycheck, have a mortgage or dependents.
    • Save nine months of expenses if you have irregular income or if you are the only one in your family who earns money.

    How Much Equals Too Much in Your Emergency Fund?

    As you can see, it’s easy to have too much in your emergency fund. If you find that you’ve stashed more than six months’ worth of emergency money in your account and have a steady paycheck, no mortgage or dependents, ease up.

    Carefully consider whether you have too much in your account based on the stability of your income and the number of people depending on you. You may also consider the level of support you receive from others. (Your parents might love it if your family moved in if it came down to it!)

    When you do decide on the right amount, automate transfers so they occur each and every week or month. That way, you don’t have to think about saving — it just happens.

    Featured Article: What is an overbought condition?



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    How to give good feedback to your collaborators?

    The feedback process must be close and continuous.



    The feedback process must be close and continuous.

    Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

    Get a glimpse of how to overcome the mental and physical fatigue that is standing between you and your full potential.

    June 8, 2021 1 min read

    This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

    This story originally appeared on Querido Dinero

    Feedback is the analysis of a person from different perspectives to show what they do very well and accelerate their professional career, but also what they need to improve because it slows their growth.

    The difference with the evaluation of results is that the feedback process must be close and continuous, and when implemented correctly it generates relationships of trust .

    We tell you how to make it a natural practice in your company:

    The difference with the evaluation of results is that the feedback process must be close and continuous, and when implemented correctly it generates relationships of trust .



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