8 common mistakes that decrease audience engagement on social media

8 Common Mistakes that Decrease Audience Engagement

Christy Walker Social Media Leave a Comment

You create a social media post for your business, post it, then sit back and wait for the comments, likes, or retweets to start rolling in. You get a like or two and then…crickets. What’s going on? Why is no one engaging with your business?

Does this scenario sound all too familiar? Social media marketing is not as simple as it might seem. It takes knowledge, strategy, and thought. If your social media marketing efforts are dismal at best, it’s likely you are making one or more of the following mistakes.

Here are 8 common mistakes that businesses make that decrease audience engagement on social media & how to correct them:

Mistake #1: You’re Selling Instead of Conversing 

It’s called social media and not sales media for a reason, folks! People do not log into Facebook or Instagram to be sold something. They log into see what their friends and family are up to, read interesting news and articles, and watch adorable animal videos (seriously…have you seen this one?).

This does not mean that you can never sell to your audience but it does mean that not every post should be a sales pitch. In fact, most of them should not be! If you’re approaching social media as just a way to increase direct sales, you’re doing it wrong (also, you’re going to be disappointed—especially if you aren’t running ads but we’ll get to that later). Social media is a way to to improve your brand’s recognition, keep current customers engaged in a dialogue, and grow your audience.

Mistake #2: You Don’t Sound Human

I’m quite sure that you are human but does your business present as human on social media? Or, does the voice of your business sound robotic, cold, and impersonal? People will not engage much with a business that has an inauthentic voice. 

So how do you make your business sound more human? Think about the people you like to interact with most in real life. What makes them so likable to be around? Probably the following: they listen, they respond when you speak to them, they are polite, they have a sense of humor, they are helpful, they are genuine. These traits should be present in all of your social media posts and comments.

Take a look at this less-than-great Facebook ad from Best Buy. I think they really tried to give this post an authentic-sounding voice but it didn’t work out. The copy sounds boring and sad and the graphic is lackluster too. I’m getting sleepy just looking at this ad! Sorry Best Buy, but I think you missed the mark this time.


Now check out this Facebook post from Midwest Living Magazine. It sounds like an old pal talking. Well done!

Increase Audience Engagement on Social Media

Mistake #3: Your Content Isn’t Exciting  

Newsflash—no one wants to read or discuss boring stuff! There are so many cool things on the internet (ok, some are a little weird too) and audiences will quickly move on if your content is not attention-grabbing. They certainly won’t stick around to comment on it! Your content needs to excite your audience. What makes exciting content, you ask? Content that is helpful, new, funny, inspiring, or useful.

It can be difficult to create content that is exciting if you’re in a “boring” industry (sorry accountants, I’m looking at you!). But even accounting firms can create exciting content. No really! They have a wealth of information that is helpful for their audiences to know—and helpful is exciting when delivered well. If you work in a “boring” industry, you’ll need to be even more mindful and strategic about how you deliver your content. We’ll get to that next, but first let’s look at a brand selling a less-than-exciting product in an engaging way: 

Charmin uses fun polls, popular hashtags, humor, and relatable topics to engage their audience on Twitter. If a toilet paper company can create engaging content, your business can too!

Charmin Killing It on Twitter

Charmin Killing It on Twitter

Charmin Killing It on Twitter

Mistake #4: You’re Not Sharing Content in an Exciting Way

Do you remember on Friends how the gang would get so annoyed when Ross would start talking dinosaurs?


Dinosaurs are actually pretty freakin’ cool but his delivery of information was a big SNOOZE FEST!

It doesn’t matter how interesting your content is, your audience isn’t going to engage much if you deliver it in a way that bores them. Look at this post from FamilyFun Magazine. It’s not the worst Facebook post I’ve ever seen but it’s pretty boring, especially considering the topic—toys! The copy is mundane and the photo does nothing to grab my attention. Heck, I can barely tell it’s toys! A more impactful approach may have been to showcase the toys in action, rather than sitting in a pile. What do you think? 


Now check out how Planet Fitness is killing it on Instagram by sharing a mixture of photos, graphics, and videos that are useful, fun, and inspirational.

Planet Fitness killing it on Instagram

If you think you’re boring your audience with your delivery style, here are a few things to consider: 

  • Are your social media posts so long that your audience loses interest?
  • Are you writing in a passive or active voice?
  • Are you sharing exciting photos/videos to complement your text?
  • Are you using the right platform to share your content?
  • Are you only using one format (video, text, photos) instead of a mixture?
Mistake #5: You Don’t Talk Back

Your mom probably taught you not to talk back but when it comes to social media, talking back is a good thing! When your audience comments on a post, sends a message, reviews your business, tweets you… you should respond. Give your response as quickly as possible, before your audience moves on and loses interest.  

Some companies only reply when asked a question or when they receive negative feedback, but that’s not the only time that you can or should respond. When someone compliments your business, say thank you! When someone shares their thoughts about a post, thank them for their input or ask a follow up question. Don’t ignore your audience when they reach out. Engage in the conversation!

Check out how Oreo responded well to a vague and slightly confusing comment on Facebook:

How to Increase Audience Engagement on Social Media

Mistake #6: You Never Tag or Mention Others

When you share something from another source, be sure to tag that source in your post. It might encourage them to interact with or share your content down the road. Social media is reciprocal. In addition, if you write content that you think will be valuable for certain others in your industry to read, consider tagging or mentioning them. This alerts others of your content and encourages them to comment and share it.  

The trick here is to be thoughtful of how and when you are tagging and mentioning others. The last thing you want to do is spam others with your content. Only share quality content with those you really think will benefit from seeing it. For example, if you link to another company’s blog from your blog post it would be appropriate to mention them on Twitter when sharing your post. It would not be appropriate for us to tag and mention every marketing company or small business when sharing this blog post to social media. See the difference? Here’s a real life example to clarify: 

We recently wrote about the digital marketing blogs that entrepreneurs should read. When we shared this blog post to Twitter, we mentioned the brands included in the article with hopes they’d appreciate the nod and share with their audiences too.

Increase Audience Engagement on Social Media

Huzzah! It worked!

Increase Audience Engagement on Social Media

Mistake #7: You’re Not Willing to Spend Any Money 

Remember that era, not all that long ago, when you could post to Facebook and it would reach all or most of your fans? Well it’s gone, people! It stinks, I know, but we’ve complained for long enough. Let it go already!


It’s time to come to terms that Facebook and social media have changed. The fact is, social media is a pay-to-play arena now. There are free ways to market your business online, and it’s a great place for small businesses with small budgets to start. But if your business wants to see serious results from its social media efforts, you’ll need an ad budget.

Here’s the good news—you don’t need a huge budget to get huge results. If you develop a smart digital ad campaign, a little bit of money can go a long way. Spend your money wisely by promoting only your most important content. That means unless you’re a veterinarian clinic or animal shelter, there’s no reason you should be spending money boosting cute kitten photos. Sorry, kittens.


Another smart use of your ad budget is reaching out to new users to grow your audience. Be sure to target only your desired audience—those who will find your products and services most appealing. Think about factors such as gender, income, age, location, and interests. For example, if you’re a woman’s clothing boutique in Des Moines, advertise to females living in Des Moines within the age range of your current customer base.

A terrible use of your budget would be buying followers, fans, or likes. Beware of so-called “marketing agencies” who promise a certain amount of likes or fans for a particular sum of money. There’s a myth out there that the number of likes or followers is the most important metric for social media accounts. Reach, impressions, and engagement are much more important and you’ll get that with quality followers, not quantity.

Contently has a great article on creating killer Facebook ads. And be sure to check out this article from Social Media Today on powerful Twitter ad targeting strategies.

Mistake #8: You’re Sticking With Platforms That Don’t Work for Your Brand

There are an abundance of social media platforms out there to share your content and build brand awareness. If you have given it your best on a particular social network and corrected the mistakes mentioned above, maybe it’s time to move away from that network and on to another that’ll work better for your brand. Consider networks such as Instagram, Google+, Periscope, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. Think about what your company offers and which platform will highlight it best. Also consider where your audience is already hanging out. For example, if your target audience is young, you’d be wise to consider networks such as Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Building an audience for your brand takes time. Don’t expect to see results overnight. But if you correct these mistakes and post consistently, over time you’ll see engagement from your audience increase.

What’s a mistake that you see brands making on social media that inhibits audience engagement?

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