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More social media mistakes to avoid

By Alfred Lua
In a continuation of last month’s column, ALFRED LUA from social media management platform buffer discusses even more ways that businesses can learn from the errors of others.

Last month, this column outlined some of the social media mistakes that the Buffer team had committed with the aim of ensuring other businesses did not make the same errors. Here’s a few more to avoid.

Limiting content

Sharing only one’s own content on Facebook – We used to shy away from using content generated by others on the assumption that it wouldn’t contribute to the bottom-line: traffic, signups and revenue. It even felt counterintuitive – who wants to send traffic to someone else’s website? On reflection, this was short sighted.

"By posting content from other sources, the buffer page’s reach, engagement and fan base increased significantly"

Sharing one’s own content means a business is really just marketing to its existing followers. Not only does this fail to expand the audience but also it increases the chance of turning existing followers off. By posting content from other sources such as TechCrunch and Wired, the Buffer page’s reach, engagement and fan base increased significantly.

Five of our recent top 10 Facebook posts were taken from third parties. These posts reached more than 1.7 million people, most of which weren’t existing followers.

To quickly find great relevant content on Facebook, use the Pages to Watch feature in the Facebook Page Insights section.

Ignoring Insta users

Failing to curate user-generated content on Instagram – Many different Instagram strategies have been trialled since we at Buffer started using the platform in 2013, including photos of company retreats and corporate gatherings, staff sharing about their daily lives and the organisation’s weekly Twitter chat #bufferchat.

Despite this, few followers were interested in the content; the account wasn’t growing and there were few post interactions. We then found a strategy that increased Instagram followers from 4,250 to 21,000 within six months. The strategy? Curating user-generated content.

By curating photos of direct interest to our target audience, coupled with a few Buffer news items, we have built a large, engaged following on Instagram.

Irrelevant news

Failing to target specific audiences – Whenever we conducted a ‘meet-up’ or workshop, the Buffer team would share the event on our Facebook page with every fan, even though many fans weren’t located in the same city as the event.

This would create an issue whereby our fans from all around the world would receive posts regarding events outside their location – people based in London are unlikely to find posts regarding Buffer’s New York meet-up relevant.


To correct this, we started using Facebook’s ‘preferred audience’ feature for localised posts. For example, when promoting a workshop in Philadelphia, posts were restricted so that only Buffer’s Philadelphia fans could see them.

Improve online efforts by taking note of what others have done
Improve online efforts by taking note of what others have done

Preferred audience posts reach fewer fans but they reach the right fans, giving a higher chance of engagement because posts are more relevant. At the same time, fans outside Philadelphia won’t be turned off the brand by seeing posts that are likely to be less relevant to them.

Facebook applies a posting algorithm that assigns a personalised relevancy score to every post a user can see. Facebook then uses this score to show posts in the order that is most relevant to users. By showing posts preferentially to the most relevant users, Facebook will be more likely to show our posts to users who are fans of Buffer rather than showing those fans less relevant posts from other businesses. This is especially useful for small businesses that have a local target audience.

No response

Failing to reply to questions – Surprisingly, businesses ignore 89% of people who want a response, according to research by social media management and analytics software provider Sprout Social.

In the same research, Sprout Social found these great benefits for businesses that responded to customer questions on social media:

  • 70% of people are more likely to use the brand’s product or service after receiving a response

  • 65% of people have more brand loyalty after receiving a response

  • 75% of people are likely to share a good experience on their own profile after receiving a response.

We reply to most questions on Buffer’s social media profiles and the team is working to reply even faster after research from social media specialist Jay Baer found that 42% of people who reach out to a brand on social media for customer support expect a response within 60 minutes.

This concludes the two-part series on common social media mistakes. Hopefully retailers find these to be useful when planning and managing their next social media strategies.

More reading: Part 1 - Don't make these social media mistakes

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