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Don't make these social media mistakes: Part 2

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.


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 counter-intuitive – who wants to send traffic to someone else’s website? On reflection, this was short sighted.

Sharing one’s own content means a business is really just marketing to its existing followers. This not only fails to expand our audience base but also 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.


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 minimal 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 items, we have built a large, engaged Instagram following.

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

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 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.

Preferred-audience posts reach fewer fans but they reach the right fans, creating a higher chance of engagement because posts are more relevant. At the same time, fans located outside Philadelphia won’t be turned off 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.


Failing to reply to questions – Surprisingly, businesses ignore 89 per cent 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 the following great benefits for businesses who responded to customer questions on social media:

  • 70 per cent of people are more likely to use the brand’s product or service after receiving a response
  • 65 per cent of people have more brand loyalty after receiving a response
  • 75 per cent 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 per cent 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 social media mistakes. Hopefully retailers find these to be useful when planning and managing their next social media strategies.

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

Alfred Lua

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

Jesse-Leigh Elford Photography

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