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Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in your Social Media Strategy Posted in Digital Strategy, Social Media, Concocted by Fred Roed, 13 comments
Published on 8 October 2009

1. Generalisation
Number one on the list, and possibly the most pervasive mistake of all. Too many companies out there have pointless blogs, boring Twitter streams or aimless Facebook pages. Try this rather: Have a point, and focus on one thing. For example, presentation and events gurus Missing Link, use their Twitter stream to educate followers on how to make better presentations.


2. Corporate speak
Another pervasive mistake. Now you know, so don’t YOU do the same. The idea behind social media is that it’s social (*duh!). Corporate lingo – where your’re trying to sound smarter than you are – doesn’t work. Break down the barriers and talk in the same language as your customers. Unless, of course, your clients are grey-suited corporates. Then, maybe,  it’s ok.

3. Dishonesty
If you lie, you will get bust. ‘Nuff said.

4. Non-disclosure
Almost as bad as lying, non-disclosure is where, within your social media outlets, you pretend you’re not aware of problems that are occurring in your products or your organisation. This also applies to punting products or offerings without letting your readers know that they’re actually your products.

5. Cliches
Okay, we’re all guilty here. Words like twittersphere, synergy, energize, paradigm and low-hanging fruit… there are some words and phrases that are just so done.

6. Too personal
We DON’T want to know about your account manager and her son’s toilet training habits. Or if your community manager thinks that rash on his thigh is hindering his productivity. Not cool… and certainly not going to raise your online profile.

7. Not personal enough
This relates to point number 2, corporate speak. Blogs, Twitterstreams, social networks and Facebook pages work because they rely on interaction between people. It’s a personal thing. You need be engaging, compelling and relevant. Just don’t spill all the beans (point no. 6).

8. Lack of research
This is another trap we all fall into. It’s so easy to convey opinion as fact. Stats derived from conversation at the networking breakfast you went to last week do not count. You need to Google it, and cross-reference it. This is maybe very un-Heavy Chef like of me, since I often use opinion as fact, but that’s the way I write. But I do try avoid writing opinions, and then cover them up as facts.

9. Lack of authenticity
This means: if you’re not passionate and knowledgeable about the topic that you’re writing about, DON’T write about it. We see this all the time. Companies put their ‘corporate social media’ strategy in place, then task a junior in the marketing team to populate their various channels with content. This is more damaging than helpful.

10. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
Okay, so we’ve listed 9 mistakes to avoid – the last point on this list is to NOT make mistakes. This is the beauty and the paradox of social media. Don’t let this list dishearten you – the point of social media is to get your message out there, and engage in conversation with your community. You can’t do this without trying something. A Facebook page, Twitter profile, wiki – anything! Do it. Go ahead and get your hands dirty!

Read more posts by Fred Roed

Fred Roed

Fred is the CEO of digital marketing agency World Wide Creative. Fred co-founded The Heavy Chef Project, as well as Ideate, a forum for African entrepreneurs. Fred focuses on online brand building, marketing strategy and loud Hawaiian shirts. Fred is famous for his sartorial excellence, long diatribes about music and fanatical attention to detail when making pizza. Follow Fred on Twitter:

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  1. Rich...! says

    Great post, and thanks for the props…!

  2. Fred Roed says

    One time Rich, keep up the good work.

  3. Joy-Mari Cloete says

    I don’t mind opinions. I love ‘em. But they need to be backed up by facts. And oooo! Number 10 is awesome. We all make mistakes and we can all learn from those mistakes. I understand that companies are afraid of being sued for the slightest infringement but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least try to put a human face to the logo. ‘Cause in the end, we’re all human and no-one’s perfect.

  4. Fred Roed says

    Agreed – these lists are always subjective. This was really just a summary of thoughts, but #10 is most important : )

  5. Clint Pietersen says

    Fred, these are timeless tips. How about writing some articles describing how companies have made these mistakes. I’m sure there are countless examples. I’m sure it would be a great read.

  6. Fred Roed says

    Thanks for that Clint – and a great idea. Noted.

  7. Clint Pietersen says

    I’m looking forward to those articles Fred. The CookSource story is a recent example of a few of these mistakes ( and a potent example of the power of the community when they react (

  8. Clint Pietersen says

    Oops, this is the 2nd link I meant to share ( ) regarding the Cook Source story.

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  10. Cherokee says

    What a great video! Great presenting! Thank-you very much for shrnaig that. I feel my views are similar to yours when it comes to this kind of stuff. Feel free to drop by and post a comment on my YouTube as well I am new here and could use a little help!

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