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Don't make these social media mistakes: Part 1

In part one of a two-part series, ALFRED LUA from social media management platform Buffer discusses how businesses can easily learn from the errors of others.

Despite being a specialist in social media management, Buffer has committed a good number of social media mistakes, errors that have cost the business reach, engagement and maybe even customers.

In an effort to prevent small businesses from committing the same mistakes, here is an overview of some of the social media mishaps made by Buffer and how they can be avoided.

Content overload

Focusing on quantity over quality – Just last year, we were posting four to five times to our Facebook page and tweeting up to 14 times per day. Having enough material to share wasn’t the problem as much content was being produced on our blogs and podcasts; however, we noticed that the reach and engagement of those posts increased three-fold when we cut posting to once or twice per day.

“Take stock of social media profiles and consider which channels are performing for your business and which are not.”

Limiting Facebook posts to just two per day forced us to share only our very best content. The higher-quality posts resonated with our Facebook fans and the Facebook algorithm surfaced them to more people.

Small business owners don’t have the time to create or find enough high-quality content to post five times a day on Facebook or tweet 10 times a day on Twitter. By reducing the number of times a business posts each day, it can focus on the quality of its posts rather than the quantity.

Spread too thin

Spreading across all social media platforms – As a social media management company, we feel a duty to test out all social media platforms so that we can understand how each platform works.

We then share what we’ve learned about succeeding on each platform but what we haven’t been so great at doing is deciding when to stop using a certain platform. It was only when Instagram introduced a similar feature called Stories that we gradually stopped posting to Snapchat and focused instead on Instagram.

For the time and effort we put into Snapchat, we weren’t getting the results and most of the users on Snapchat weren’t our target audience anyway. Instagram, on the other hand, provides several advantages such as better discoverability, analytics (including audience insights) and audience targeting through ads.

Every additional platform a business incorporates will require additional time and effort to create great tailored content for that platform. Take stock of social media profiles and consider which channels are performing for your business and which are not.

By moving away from social media platforms that might not suit a business or those that are not performing well, businesses can double down on those that are.

Wrong orientation

Using only landscape videos and images – We were accustomed to posting landscape videos and images because that was the ideal image size for most social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter (1,024 pixels by 512 pixels); however, that might not be true anymore.

As square videos and images are no longer cropped on Facebook and Twitter, they take up more real estate on someone’s feed – 78 per cent more, in fact. After spending $1,500 on experiments, we found that square videos actually generate higher average views and greater engagement than landscape videos, especially on mobile phones.

Another fun experiment to explore might be posting vertical (portrait) videos and images, especially since Facebook is showing a larger preview of vertical videos on its mobile feed.

No show

Not uploading videos onto social media platforms – Quintly, a business that provides social media analytics tools, analysed more than six million Facebook posts and found that videos uploaded to Facebook received more engagement and shares than YouTube videos on Facebook.

“The interaction rate for Facebook native videos were on average 109.67 per cent higher than for YouTube videos,” Quintly reported. “Facebook native videos had on average a 477.76 per cent higher share rate compared to YouTube videos.”

Just a year ago, we were still sharing YouTube links to videos rather than uploading videos onto social media platforms.

When YouTube links were posted, the best video post only reached 3,397 people. Now, videos uploaded onto Facebook receive an average reach of 53,254 people.

Hopefully there are takeaways here for small businesses looking to improve their social media strategies. Stay tuned for the second part of this series where more mistakes will be revealed as well as the lessons learnt.

Alfred Lua

Alfred Lua is the content crafter for social media management business buffer. Learn more:

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