10 Social Media Marketing Challenges & How to Overcome Them

Ready to tackle the biggest social media marketing challenges?

If you’ve been struggling to keep your social media strategy agile and up to date, you’re definitely not alone.

Competition for attention on social media is tougher than ever. New social networks are changing how we create content. Plus, people’s expectations are getting higher every day. It’s no wonder building a memorable brand presence online can feel overwhelming.

Fear not. In this guide, we’re breaking down 10 of the most common social media marketing problems brands face today. For each challenge, we’ll also give you actionable next steps that help you clear the hurdle with ease.

  1. Keeping up with changing social trends
  2. Finding social talent
  3. Proving the ROI of social
  4. Falling engagement rates and fewer post interactions
  5. Standing out against established social competitors
  6. Lost time from juggling multiple social platforms
  7. Little-to-no communication between departments
  8. Running out of creative content ideas
  9. Responding to call-outs and crises
  10. Lack of growth, direction or strategy

The average lifespan of a trend is shrinking fast, leaving room for more trends than ever before.

This abundance is great for consumers, who get to enjoy hyper-targeted micro-trends that appeal to their interests 24/7. For marketers, harnessing trends is only getting more complicated.

According to a Q2 2023 Sprout pulse survey, 49% of marketers say identifying and responding to emerging trends on social media is the biggest challenge in managing their brand’s social presence.

A text-based graphic that says "49% of marketers say identifying and responding to emerging trends on social media is the biggest challenge in managing their brand’s social presence."

It’s a needle-in-a-haystack effect for social media marketers. To create content that resonates with your target audience, you have to sift through an endless stream of content to figure out what’s relevant.

When done manually, this looks like a lot of scrolling. Thankfully, social media management tools and process adjustments can keep you on trend without blowing up your screen time.

Solutions:

  • Make trendspotting a collaborative effort. Don’t attempt to keep up with rising trends all by yourself. Instead, crowdsource ideas by asking teammates about what they’re seeing on their feeds.
  • Use a social listening tool to tap into trends in a way that resonates. Nailing your voice-of-customer is crucial to creating effective trend content. Audience insights from a social listening tool help refine your message so that it’s current and relevant.
  • If there’s not enough time to create net-new content, opt for strategic engagement plays. Commenting on viral videos or content from relevant creators can generate as many impressions as a feed post.

2. Finding social talent

One of the biggest challenges social media teams face isn’t taking place in inboxes or timelines. It’s on the job boards.

Hiring social media professionals has become quite a challenge in today’s ever-evolving landscape. The demands placed on social marketers have skyrocketed. It’s no longer enough to be a strong strategist or copywriter. Brands now seek individuals who excel in creating engaging content across various formats, all while possessing a firm understanding of internet culture.

According to The Sprout Social Index 2022, more than half (52%) of marketers cite finding experienced talent as their team’s primary obstacle. This scarcity of experienced and proficient professionals in social media management presents brands with difficulties in securing the right team members.

An overview of social media teams' biggest challenges including bandwidth, proving ROI, social execution, resourcing and social as a business function. The leading challenge is bandwidth/talent, which has increased significantly YOY.

If you’re on one of the many teams trying to up their headcount this year, be extra thoughtful about your growth strategy. Craft an enticing job description that aligns with your future vision for the channel to attract qualified talent.

Solutions

  • Write a thoughtful, clear and intentional social media manager job description that shows candidates you understand and value their work.
  • Create an exceptional interview experience using resources in this hiring manager toolkit. It’s complete with interview questions, scorecard templates, assessment examples and an onboarding checklist, all designed to create a wow-worthy process from start to finish.
  • Brush up on social recruiting strategies. Use employee advocacy and referrals to tap into brand new spheres of talent that might miss your job listing otherwise.

3. Proving the ROI of social

Social media has come into its own as an integral part of every business strategy. Its impact is felt everywhere, from the songs we sing to the topics we talk about.

Still, some higher-ups may fail to recognize the immediate value of investing in social media as a priority channel. Although social plays a clear role in lead generation, customer nurturing and more, it’s difficult to make sense of the metrics needed to translate that impact.

Making a business case for social media is a common challenge associated with social media marketing but it shouldn’t have to be.

Although justifying social media to your boss might involve factors beyond your control—budget, personnel—tying your organization’s presence to business practices, the bottom line and performance is a priority. Doing so not only helps cement the importance of your role but also helps earn future buy-in from colleagues and leadership.

Solutions:

  • Document how your social presence impacts business goals—think brand awareness, lead generation, customer nurturing and sales—by understanding important social media KPIs.
  • Highlight relevant metrics that have moved the needle in the past year to help you reach those goals, like traffic, mentions, reach and engagement.
  • Conduct marketing competitive analysis to drive home the importance of having a strong social presence for your respective industry.

4. Falling engagement rates and fewer post interactions

“Is organic social traffic dead?”

This simple, five-word question has sparked countless webinars, LinkedIn posts and think pieces. It makes sense. Ever-changing algorithms can make chasing organic traffic feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole, where hitting one target means missing the next.

In our most recent quarterly pulse survey, marketers ranked keeping up with rapidly changing algorithms and features as their second most common social media marketing challenge.

Earning reach and interactions can be an uphill battle if you’re not running paid promotions alongside organic content. That said, it’s not an impossible fight.

Solutions

  • Assess your top-performing posts to understand what drives the most interactions. Try to find common threads between these posts, such as timing, content themes, post types, formatting or voice.
  • Focus on content that taps into your existing followers, customers and community. This might include question-based content, user-generated content campaigns and responding to shout-outs and comments.
  • Consider collaborating with influencers and brands as a way to extend your reach and encourage more brand mentions.

5. Standing out against established social competitors

Feel like you don’t have much of a share of voice?

Most industries are crowded with competition. Look no further than the beauty space as evidence, brimming with brands and influencers eager to show off products in action.

Whether you’re facing off against legacy brands or established players in your industry, staking your claim as an up-and-comer is a tall order.

Focus first on establishing your identity and community versus obsessing over others’. It’s easy to get stuck comparing follower counts and engagements, but that’s not doing you or your followers any favors.

Remember: A smaller, thriving community is more valuable than vanity metrics.

Solutions:

  • Build your primary promotional strategy around engaging with customers—for example, curating user-generated content and responding to questions, comments and tags.
  • Develop a distinct brand voice—don’t discount the power of personality as a way to stand out.
  • Activate employees to boost your brand’s content and reach beyond your account.

6. Lost time from juggling multiple social platforms

Building a presence across multiple social networks can often make it feel like time is slipping through your fingers.

With messages, notifications and content deadlines constantly demanding your attention, managing multiple profiles and interfaces is one of the most challenging aspects of social media marketing.

Maintaining a presence across various platforms means cross-posting and engaging with comments on different channels. Without a well-thought-out strategy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burned out.

We all have limited time in a day, so it’s crucial to allocate it wisely without compromising customer relationships or disrupting your schedule.

This is where tools like Sprout’s Smart Inbox come in handy. This centralized approach to inbox management consolidates messages across channels in one convenient place, saving you time and energy.

A UI mock-up of Sprout Social's Smart Inbox.

Solutions:

  • Define your “priority” network and focus most of your efforts there. Ask yourself: Where do you have the most meaningful interaction? Where are you seeing the most growth? Which platform is tied most to your business goals?
  • Adopt a social media tool like Sprout to consolidate your social presence and assets. Doing so will result in less time jumping between networks and will help streamline your workflow.
  • Consider outsourcing or sharing responsibilities across your marketing team as needed.

7. Little-to-no communication between departments

Social media marketing isn’t just about posting content and interacting with your audience. It involves collaboration with other departments such as customer service, product development and demand generation.

The graph below shows the teams that social marketers interact with the most.

A data visualization that reads "Teams that contribute to their organization's social strategy." The chart demonstrates that customer service, corporate communications, product, HR and R&D teams contribute to their company's social strategy.Sharing your data and insights shouldn’t be a burden and doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. Collaboration goes hand in hand with creating better campaigns and lessening second-guessing, empowering yourself and your colleagues.

For example, consider how your sales or product teams see the ongoing impact of your content marketing and social presence. With their insights, you can spend more time on activities that help your customers and win over prospects.

Solutions:

  • Set up regular meetings and check-ins to review metrics and explore collaboration opportunities across teams.
  • Be consistent and proactive with sharing social data. Use this social listening report template to democratize previously siloed insights across a business.
  • Use your CRM data to better understand how your company’s social presence impacts your marketing and sales funnel.

8. Running out of creative content ideas

Coming up with fresh content ideas is among the most frustrating social media challenges. A poorly timed creative rut can throw off your entire day, if not week.

Growing your social media presence is a never-ending job. Whether a campaign falls flat or earns a ton of attention from followers, you’re still expected to follow up and keep the good content flowing.

Social media success stories like Duolingo on TikTok represent a great example of how creative content can take your brand to new heights.

Duolingo's Tiktok profile page showing a following of 3.5 million and examples of their videos

Again, you can’t obsess over what your competitors or legacy brands are doing. Creativity often comes in waves and the same rings true for social marketers. We recommend being proactive about coming up with ideas through strategic, ongoing brainstorming.

Solutions:

  • Use social listening tools to uncover conversations and content your target audience is buzzing about.
  • Create a social trendspotting strategy to get a head start on movements and crazes before they blow up.
  • Collaborate with creators or brand advocates who’ve succeeded in driving engagement recently. What can you learn from them?

9. Responding to call-outs and crises

Social media has become a go-to channel for customer service and support.

Likewise, it’s a popular place to keep your customers in the loop in case of a crisis or hiccup with your product or service.

Screenshot of Tweets from a brand, @tryramp, sharing that their service is experiencing issues and then providing an update when the issue is resolved.

However, simply pushing out announcements isn’t enough to keep your customers happy.

Social customer care is an all-or-nothing game. If you only respond to a select few engagements, you risk getting called out for ignoring others. Ignore a high-priority message and you run the risk of setting off a brand crisis.

Speeding up your social media response time is an easy way to build transparency with your audience, but that alone is not enough. You should also ensure you’re responding to the full spectrum of messages that land in your inbox—that includes the good, the bad and the ugly.

Solutions:

  • Develop a specific social media crisis plan to handle events involving serious backlash without getting overwhelmed.
  • Stay up-to-date on common customer concerns, questions and trending topics. Use what you find to craft canned responses that still feel personal.
  • Make a point to personalize your customer responses (even when using messaging templates). Custom greetings and sign offs can make a digital interaction much more human.

10. Lack of growth, direction or strategy

Running social with a limited budget can feel like swimming against the current. It takes twice as much effort to meet performance objectives, let alone exceed them.

Choppy economic conditions have created roadblocks on many of the standard paths to growth. That doesn’t mean that your social performance is beyond your control. To pave a new way forward, marketers must prioritize and embrace new organic strategies that combat stagnation.

Solutions

  • Prioritize ruthlessly. Dive into performance reports to identify the ideal content mix that delivers the best possible results. Use what you learn to pushback on competing priorities that don’t contribute to top-line growth.
  • Encourage alignment between marketing and finance by connecting the dots between your strategy and the overall business plan. The more familiar you are with how you can contribute to top-line goals, the easier it will be to successfully make the case for budget.
  • Support customer retention by reallocating efforts toward social media community management. Focus on delighting your biggest fans. These brand advocates will help you build social proof, which in turn will help you attract new customers in an authentic and relatable way. By fostering brand loyalty, your business can also enjoy the advantages of recurring revenue.

Which social media challenges do you need the most help with?

Building an impactful social presence doesn’t happen by accident.

If you’re hitting roadblocks or don’t know what to do next, don’t panic. It happens! After all, challenges are just stepping stones to achieving your goals.

What truly matters is having a proactive plan in place to continually propel your social media presence forward. Addressing the social media challenges above isn’t something you can afford to shy away from.

If you’re ready to overcome these 10 common obstacles, download our suite of free social media templates to get started.

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