Social Media Branding Mistakes: 5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Personal BrandingSocial Media
Social media branding mistakes can be disastrous. Personal branding is as much an art as it is a science and there are five traps to avoid.

It can be immensely helpful to remind ourselves that social media branding mistakes happen in front of a worldwide audience. Avoiding them altogether is obviously the best strategy.

There are thousands of hard-working professionals trying to grow a strong, lasting online presence and personal brand. Many (if not most) turn to social media to achieve this. But alas, a large percentage end up creating unflattering brands on global social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

According to Jeremy Goldman, founder, and CEO of Firebrand Group, far too many professionals post messages on these platforms complaining about their daily work commute or bragging about a new purchase. Some even list comprehensive versions of their daily schedules in an ill-advised bid to seem more important. Goldman warns that this approach is foolhardy as very few people are likely to care.

Goldman says that when you’re busy crafting your personal brand on social media, it’s crucial to present yourself and your focus in a positive way. You need to be aware of how you’re projecting your brand into the world. You might end up unwittingly smudging your public image because of mistakes you didn’t even know you were making.

Some mistakes that professionals make on social media are obvious, even to the untrained eye. However, even skilled personal branding professionals make some less evident errors from time to time. The great news is that most of these mistakes are simple to avoid. Plus, you can learn how to implement more effective personal branding strategies just as easily as you can unlearn the ineffective ones.

Here are five common social media personal branding mistakes that are best avoided if you hope to develop a genuine and engaging personal brand online.

1. Sharing Generic, Copy-Pasted Posts

Personal branding experts recommend that you always customize your posts when you share updates or links on social media platforms. Don’t use the share button’s default texts or a generic template. This is true even if you’re promoting a product or connecting with someone on a professional platform such as LinkedIn.

People will know when you’ve taken the time to write a personalized message. That alone will immediately boost your public image. It conveys to your followers that you’re respectful, attentive to detail, and willing to go the extra mile — all of which will add to the believability of your brand. This cultivates a strong social media image and will generate more likes, feedback, connections, and networking opportunities.

2. Not Being Authentic

You might remember actor George Takei’s iconic social media posts from 2010. His joke posts were so frequent and entertaining that millions of followers wholeheartedly believed he was an extremely talented joker. Unfortunately, it was later revealed that it was actually Takei’s ghostwriter who had been brewing up his wisecracks and witticisms. The former Star Trek icon’s public image took a huge hit as a result.

That just goes to show that social media branding mistakes are no joke. If this was the effect of inauthentic social media posts on a globally acclaimed actor, imagine what being perceived as spurious could do to your personal brand.

If you meet someone in real life, chances are that picking up on a lack of sincerity on their part would be a major turnoff. It’s no different on social media. Your followers can tell when you’re being authentic, and likewise, they can tell when you’re trying to be someone you’re not.

3. Neglecting Offline Channels

The digital world has become a key platform in the personal branding industry. But if you don’t make use of your online personal brand in the physical world, you could be missing out on a golden opportunity.

Think of it like this. Many people become enamored with celebrities or public personalities after seeing them in off-set interviews that reveal their genuine personalities. They then look these icons up on social media platforms to follow them on a closer, more personal level.

You might prefer to engage your followers on Twitter or Instagram first, but if you have a chance to meet those connections in the flesh, grab it with both hands! That way, you can make a lasting and intimate impression on people who already appreciate your brand and what it stands for. Events can cement those connections and create a long-term customer and fan base.

The worst-case scenario is that you may have wasted more or less 45 minutes on a coffee date if you don’t resonate with someone you’ve met in person. If you do see eye to eye, however, you may foster a professional connection that can last for decades. Interacting with your followers face-to-face can only strengthen the connections you have built across your social media platforms of choice.

4. Focusing Too Much on Yourself

This may seem counterintuitive at first glance. After all, you’d expect that your personal brand would be all about you, right?

However, on closer inspection, you’ll realize that your personal brand isn’t as much about you as it is about the services you provide to others. Personal branding aims to collate and distill all of your best characteristics and traits. It showcases how you can help others to realize their goals and ambitions.

There’s nothing wrong with projecting confidence on digital channels. At the same time, you don’t want people to know you for shameless self-promotion. Remaining generous and receptive to the people on your networks are better ways to foster lasting relationships and enhance your professional reputation.

5. Lacking Focus

We’ve all seen those social media profiles whose owners will share celeb gossip one day and deep political insights the next. Perhaps one of your social media profiles introduces you as a skilled copywriter. Another makes you seem more like a digital marketing specialist.

Of course, each one of us has a number of different skills and facets. There’s nothing wrong with highlighting these as a part of your personal brand. However, inconsistencies in your branding can leave your followers confused, and worse still, make you seem professionally unfocused.

Your digital personal brand doesn’t have to reflect the full scope of your personality. Choose a few key traits to represent to the public and ensure everything you post online aligns with those traits. This should apply across all your social channels.

For example, if you’re focused on finance, start-ups, and entrepreneurship, stick to offering advice, pointing people toward tools they can use for funding, and creating talking points around these topics. Don’t dilute your brand by posting content that has no correlation with your core focus.

Getting Social Media Branding Right

Branding yourself on social media requires perseverance, commitment, and authenticity, both online and in the real world.

Ensure you have a focused, genuine personal brand that’s projected consistently across all your preferred social platforms — then protect it. Social media branding mistakes tend to happen when we’re in too much of a hurry. Slow down. Proofread everything word-for-word. If you get this right, you’ll be well on your way to creating a lasting and positive professional impression.