As a small business owner, no matter the industry, location or ownership (franchise vs. independent), there are many things you are expected to be an expert at  — one of which is social media. To successfully use social media, local business owners and managers are often required to be experts (something that is very difficult, seeing as you have a business to run!).

The good news?

Vivial is always trying to find ways to make your life easier. Below you’ll find a collection of the top social media mistakes that small businesses make — and how you can avoid them.

If you read these mistakes and realize you are guilty of a few, don’t be upset! Social media is constantly evolving and so are the audiences who use it; your faux pas will most likely be forgotten once you hit your stride on social media. Not to mention the fact that the social media mistakes you made in the past can help you refine your strategy moving forward.

Mistake: One-way conversations

Many social media novices see networks as just another way to broadcast their sales promotions, products and services to customers. They don’t have two-way conversations that social media audiences are accustomed to, rather they replicate what would be a headline in an ad and speak at the customer.

Social media users don’t engage with businesses who speak at them, they engage with ones that have a conversation with them.

Solution: Go to the cocktail party

Social media gives you the opportunity to connect in real-time with potential consumers or current customers. If one of these people came up to you at your business you wouldn’t just talk to them about current sales and offerings, you would try to understand their needs so you can provide the best product and service for them. You should replicate this same mindset on social media.

Treat social networks as a cocktail party: connect with people in an easy-going manner where you talk more informally (and can subtly brag about your amazing business, too).

Mistake: Not posting consistently 

Posting and monitoring social networks when it comes across your mind, which could be daily, weekly or once a month.

Solution: Create a posting plan

As the social media manager for Vivial, I can attest that if I didn’t have a schedule, our social media marketing would be a mess!

Creating a posting plan will keep you social accounts active, your business open to conversations with consumers and remind you to monitor your social accounts.

The easiest way to do this is with Vivial Social (part of the Vivial platform). In addition to letting you schedule social posts to all the major social networks, it also helps you monitor engagement and reviews in an easy-to-use “to-do” list — so you always know what needs to be tackled.

Not sure how often to post?

We have the best practices for small business to give you a place to start.
social media engagement times

Mistake: Not having a strategy for social media

Creating social media profiles without tactics or goals that support your larger marketing strategy.

Solution: Spend 15 minutes on a strategy

You know your small business should be on social media, great start!

The next step is to create a small social media strategy, which consists of:

  1. A mission
  2. Goals
  3. Tactics to fulfill your strategy

You already have an idea of what you want to accomplish on social media or you wouldn’t have created profiles at all. In just 15 minutes you can establish your mission, goals and tactics to create an actionable social media strategy. If you need extra guidance, check out our article How to Create a Social Media Strategy Template.
social media strategy

Mistake: Not responding kindly to negative reviews/posts

When negative reviews / posts show up about your business online, most people either choose to ignore them or respond with the same negativity and emotion as the original poster.

Solution: Create a review response guide

When negative comments are said about your small business it’s easy to react in kind, using that same emotion to defend your business as it was seemingly attacked with. However, negative emotion doesn’t help attract more people to your business in a good way — it simply triggers a ripple effect and increases the likelihood that others will share them.

While positive reviews are essential, customers actually trust businesses that have a few negative reviews more because it brings credibility to the reviews. After all, nobody’s perfect.

There is no winner if you choose to argue with the reviewer. Knowing how to handle negative reviews and posts before they occur is key. Reading negative comments with a rational mindset will help you respond in a respectful manner and minimize any damage that the reviewer has done.

We recommend our review response formula which walks through the actions you need to take to have a positive outcome from a negative review:

  1. Acknowledge the review and the feelings of the customer. Don’t be dismissive of their experience, but rather apologize for it.
  2. Ask to discuss things further away from the public eye (in email or on the phone).
  3. Resolve the case which may entail just apologizing or offering a reimbursement in some way (we don’t recommend this most of the time, but some cases it may be warranted).

yelp review response formula

Mistake: Ignoring hashtag trends

You don’t use any hashtags — or use them for everything — on of your social networks.
hashtag social media mistakes

Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks (except LinkedIn) use hashtags and keywords to compile thoughts on the same subject. If you’re confused about hashtags, think about them as the equivalent of a keyword search.

Hashtags trends are often linked to news and high-profile events. For instance, hashtags like #blacklivesmatter recently drew attention to questions of racism and police brutality in the United States. In 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed highlighted the reasons why women stayed in domestic abuse situations.

Never jump on a hashtag simply because it’s trending.

Solution: Do some (quick) hashtag research

Hashtags are used as a way to connect using certain terms on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

By not using hashtags, your business isn’t connecting with others on social media networks. Use too many hashtags and your social posts are labeled as spam and are difficult to read.
social media engagement through hashtags

But you don’t need to just know how to use hashtags, but which hashtags are appropriate to your message.

You may want to jump onto a trending hashtag (which is a great idea to gain more exposure), but if you don’t do a quick search to see what that topic is actually about, you could be directing the wrong type of attention to your business.

You need to be aware of hashtag trends and use them appropriately, as DiGiorno Pizza learned when it saw the hashtag #WhyIStayed trending and decided to use it to sell pizza. DiGiorno quickly realized their mistake and pulled down the tweet, but many people on social media still have a bad taste in their mouth (no pun intended) about the brand because they tried to make light of a serious issue
digornio hashtag social media mistakedigornio apologizing for hashtag social media mistake

The social media mistakes that we’ve listed out are faux pas that any business — large or small — could make. All it takes are a few minor changes to your social media plan and your business will see a big impact in how your followers engage with you.


  • HI! really great information,everyone learn from these mistakes, thanks for sharing.

  • Great points, well outline to give even a social media novice a solid food to start using social networks more effectively.

    I like how you outline the strategy creation example.

    One will need to check the most influential network for their brand and/or business give it more share preference above the others.

    If, for example, twitter is the network which seems to be more of help to your business, then let it have more shares per day in your schedule.

    Take Away:

    To get more retweets, practice sharing about other people’s services than yours. They will see the tweet, like it and retweet it.

    This I say from my personal experience with my twitter profile.

    Thank you,

    Hope my input helps.