7 Social Selling Mistakes to Avoid

7 Social Selling Mistakes to Avoid

Part of learning is making mistakes. This is true for just about everything in life, including social selling.

But the key to growing is to avoid making the same mistake more than once. You should learn from your mistakes and improve your strategies accordingly. 

Thankfully for you, after working with hundreds of clients on their digital strategy, I’ve seen many of the same mistakes again and again. And in this week’s Sell with Social, I’ll share the most common social selling mistakes I see and provide tips on how to avoid them. 

The Seven Most Common Social Selling Mistakes

To be clear, there are more than seven mistakes that can be made when implementing a social selling strategy. In fact, I probably make 2-3 mistakes each week myself.

Making mistakes is good, as it means you are taking action.

My goal in this article is to help you recognize common mistakes and provide some resources that you can use to help avoid or learn from them. 

So, without further ado, here are the seven most common mistakes I see with social selling. 

Mistake 1: Lack of a Clear Strategy

A common pitfall in social selling is diving in without a clear strategy. Entering the social media world without defined goals or an understanding of your target audience is like sailing without a compass. It's essential to have objectives and an understanding of who you are trying to reach. You don’t need to wait until you have the perfect strategy, but you need to have a strategy. 

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Define Your Goals - Have clear results that you are looking to achieve. It could be generating leads, expanding your network, leveling up your career, etc. The key is to know the “Why” behind your actions. 
  • Understand Your Audience - The “Who” is a close second to your why.  You need to have an understanding of who your target audience is. These will be the people you are trying to reach through your social network. 
  • Be Methodical - The spray-and-pray approach doesn’t work in traditional sales, and it doesn’t work in digital sales either. Be methodical with how you approach your social selling strategy. 

Mistake 2: Overemphasis on Selling

Social selling isn’t just selling; it's about building relationships. The mistake many make is constantly pitching their products or services without adding value to their audience. And while you should expect to receive benefits from social selling, you should focus most of your effort on giving instead.  

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Focus on Value - Think about ways you can provide value to your audience. What can you do to give them a sample of the value they will receive if they choose to work with you? 
  • Build Relationships - Put the “social” back in social networking by building genuine relationships. Remember, it’s people who ultimately decide to purchase from you.  
  • Use the 80/20 Approach - A great rule of thumb is to make 80% of your social selling activity focused on providing value, and 20% on selling. This is a give, give, give, receive, approach that makes you not come across as desperate. 

Mistake 3: Neglecting Personal Branding

In social selling, your personal brand is your currency. An inconsistent or absent personal brand can significantly hamper your efforts. Your online persona should reflect your professional self, consistent across all platforms. Develop a personal brand that speaks to your expertise, values, and personality, making sure it resonates with your target audience.

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Optimize Your Profile - Your profile is the landing page for all your social selling activity. Be sure to optimize it so your visitors understand what you do, who you do it for, and the next step to work with you. 
  • Create a Brand Promise Statement - A brand is a promise you make to your audience. What is the promise of your brand? Write down what you will do to help your audience succeed and use that as a foundation for your personal brand
  • Deliver on Your Brand - Once you’ve identified your brand promise, it’s time to deliver on it. Make sure that you consistently show up and give to your audience in a way that invests in your asset, the personal brand. 

Mistake 4: Expecting Instant Results

One of the most common yet overlooked mistakes in social selling is the expectation of instant results. Social selling is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Many individuals step into the world of social media with the hope of immediate sales and rapid growth, only to find themselves disappointed. The reality is, building a strong social selling presence requires patience, persistence, and consistent effort. 

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Be Patient - There are no shortcuts to being successful. Digital strategies can give you exponential growth, but it takes time to get the snowball rolling. 
  • Build Habits - You’ll need to make a habit out of social selling. Become somebody who regularly shows up, comments, engages their network, and posts valuable content. 
  • Envision Your Future - The end goal is a future where you can expand your reach, build authority, and generate more revenue through digital channels. Remember that this future “you” is attainable.

Mistake 5: Failing to Engage (Authentically)

Authenticity is key in social selling. Automated responses or a lack of personal touch can be off-putting. Personalize your interactions, and don’t shy away from showing your human side. Respond promptly and thoughtfully to messages and comments, and engage in real conversations. Authentic engagement builds trust and fosters lasting relationships.

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Engage Your Network - Actually engage with other people in your social network, don’t just shout into the digital wind. Connect with people, send messages, comment on posts, etc. The more engaged you are, the more successful your social strategy will be. 
  • Know Who You Are - Be authentic about who you are (and who you are not). The world of social media is full of phonies and grifters, and consequently, people are on high alert for bullshit artists. 
  • Collaborate With Others - One of the best strategies for engaging is to collaborate with others in your network. This could be through tagging in posts, recording videos together, or co-hosting events. Collaboration is a great way to expand the reach of your social network. 

Mistake 6: Too Much Focus on Algorithm, Not Enough on Content

A critical misstep in social selling is prioritizing algorithm optimization over the creation of quality content. While understanding and leveraging social media algorithms can certainly boost your visibility, it should never come at the cost of the content’s value and authenticity. Many fall into the trap of producing content solely designed to 'game' the algorithm, often leading to content that lacks depth, relevance, or genuine engagement with the audience.

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Quality Content First - First and foremost, focus on creating quality content. The algorithm wants to reward those who are able to engage with the content they create. This means creating quality content that your audience enjoys. 
  • Don’t Try To Cheat - Since the dawn of search and social platforms, people have been trying to cheat the system. Even if this works in the short term, it can penalize you in the long term. It’s not worth trying to cheat the algorithm
  • Be Human - Having “real” content can actually perform better than “perfect” content. People crave original, human-generated content, so don’t be afraid to put out content that doesn’t tick all the boxes. 

Mistake 7: Not Staying Consistent

Consistency is the key to building and maintaining a strong online presence. Inconsistency in posting frequency or engagement can lead to a decline in audience interest and engagement. Your followers expect a regular flow of content and interaction, and failing to meet these expectations can quickly diminish your visibility and impact on social platforms. This inconsistency can send a message of unreliability or a lack of dedication to your audience.

  • Start Small - You don’t need to do everything on Day 1. It’s better to start small and be consistent. Even just 15-30 minutes each day will enable you to start making progress.  
  • Block out Time - Treat your social selling activity as dedicated prospecting time. Block off time on your calendar to spend commenting, creating content, and reaching out to your connections. 
  • Repurpose Your Content - You don’t need to create brand-new content with every post. Repurpose your primary ideas and content to help reinforce your message to your audience. 

Learn, Do, Grow

Social selling is a powerful tool when used correctly. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can develop effective strategies that build lasting relationships and drive business growth. Remember, social selling is an evolving field; stay adaptable, keep learning, and continually refine your approach.

You will make mistakes. The key is to learn from them

For this week’s action items, I want you to reflect on your social selling strategy. Are you making any of the mistakes above? What mistakes have you made already? How have you learned from them?

Mistakes are a good thing. It means you’re getting better. And if you’ve had issues with any of the common mistakes above, you are not alone.

But now it’s time to learn from them! 

Here are this week’s action items:

  1. Take Action. - To make mistakes, you first need to take action. If you’re already doing social selling, you’ve completed step 1. 
  2. Make Mistakes - Next, consider the mistakes you have made and are currently making. Did any of the items above ring a bell? What are the challenges in your current social selling strategies that you know need to be addressed? 
  3. Learn and Grow - Finally, consider how to improve. Mistakes are only a problem if you don’t learn from them. Review the tips under each section above and see if you can’t remedy your mistakes and improve your strategy in the process.

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