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Social Media 101: 30 Things You Should Avoid Doing on Social Media

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Social Media 101: 30 Things You Should Avoid Doing on Social Media

Social media is a great way to promote your brand, expand your reach, and increase followers who will hopefully become customers. However, it can also create trouble when not used correctly. One mistake on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and your brand is suddenly dealing with a serious reputation issue.

Since we don’t want you to experience that migraine-inducing nightmare, here are 30 things you should avoid doing on social media:

1. Only Focusing on Facebook

When you think of social media, the first social network that comes to mind is probably Facebook. With 71% of adults online using Facebook, it’s easy to believe you can join Facebook and handle all of your social media needs from there.

The problem is that Facebook may not be reaching your audience. There are a number of social media platforms better suited for different audiences. LinkedIn is for professionals, Vine is for the cool kids.

While having a Facebook account should be a no-brainier, it shouldn’t be your only social media network, either.

keys-264595_640Image Source: Pixabay

2. Jumping on Multiple Social Media Networks at Once

Even though you should be on other networks besides Facebook, having too many networks at once can be just as detrimental. Creating accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram and letting them remain dormant isn’t going to help increase traffic to your website or followers on social media. Not to mention – how are you planning to manage all those accounts?

Instead, find out where your audience spends most of their time. If they have a large presence on Twitter then you may not need a Pinterest account. In fact, your industry may not require image-based social media networks, so joining Pinterest or Instagram would be pointless.

3. Making it Only About Yourself

Think about that annoying friend or coworker (we all have one) who only talks about themselves. It gets old really fast, and it makes you not want to spend time with that person.

The same thing applies to social media. If all you’re doing is selling your product or service, then that’s a huge turn-off for people. Remember, social media is first and foremost social. 

Although starting out on social media can be a challenge, keep in mind it is about starting a conversation with people. Use social media to ask a questions or request feedback from visitors. It’s these small actions that will make people follow you or your brand.

4. Not Thinking Twice Before Posting

It’s really tempting to post an update when you have a fight with a loved one or employee. It’s tempting to start rambling about politics after a couple of drinks. But, once you update your status or send out that offensive tweet, it’s there forever.

Being disciplined is difficult at times, but it’s absolutely necessary. The last thing you want to do is to offend someone. It’s only going to reflect poorly on you and your brand.

Always think twice before sharing something on social media. And if you’re angry or a bit tipsy, then make sure your phone stays in your pocket.

5. Posting in a Hurry

Whether you just had a brilliant thought or want to be the first person to break some juicy piece of news, take a breath and think for a moment. Is the message appropriate? Is it legal to share? Are the sources trusted? While this may not be as devastating in some fields as in others, you just want to post with a clear head and not getting overly excited.

For example, you were in a bathroom and heard people discuss that a major merger was going to happen. For starters, they shouldn’t be sharing that in public, but it’s also not your place to tweet that information. You’re not Lois Lane.

We’re not saying you should ponder posts for days. Just take a moment and think before sharing juicy bits of information with the world.

6. Not Spell Checking

Including abbreviations, acronyms, and slang may be fine to use on a personal account with friends, but not for a professional. Customers want to deal with someone who will actually take the extra second to spell out “you”. It’s a simple and effective way to prove that you’re a professional.

Furthermore, double-check your spellings. Between human error and auto-correct, that one misspelled word can do major damage to your reputation. Keep in mind that people love to point these sort of mistakes out, and that one little incident will live on in infamy.

7. Responding Unprofessionally

Because you are conversing with people—again, social media is not a one-way street—you will most likely encounter a person who rubs you the wrong way. Whatever you do, don’t go all Amy’s Bakery on them. That’s completely unprofessional and will only tarnish your good name.

Always be polite and respectful. Even if you’re not at fault, it’s a whole lot easier to kill them with kindness than to do damage control.

8. Being Impersonal

Show people there is actually a human being behind the account. Most of us actually want to do business with other people and not with calculating, emotionless robots.

Give visitors a better understanding of who you are by sharing your interests and values. In other woods, make people a “fan” of yours.

You can do this by being lighthearted or witty. Think Taco Bell, Oreo, DiGiorno, or even being more serious and sponsoring something like a charity run.

9. Hiding From Negative Comments/Controversy

Unfortunately, you can’t just run away whenever you’re faced with a challenge. Let’s say you had a typo or accidentally sent out a tweet that was meant for personal use. It is important to own up to it. People will actually respect you for admitting you made a mistake and have a learned a valuable lesson.

The Red Cross faced a situation like this, but actually made light of the scenario, instead of ignoring it or posting one of those tired apologies.

10. Not Listening

Part of creating a community and actually communicating with your followers is taking the time to read what people are saying about your brand. There are a wide range of free tools that can achieve this task for you. These include Hootsuite, Social Mention, TweetDeck, Topsy, Icerocket and Google Alerts.

If you see someone has a question or concern, take the time to address the issue. You can also thank people who have positive things to say about your brand.

11. Not Optimizing Social Media Profiles

If you’re familiar with SEO, then this should make sense. Basically, you should optimize your social media profiles just like you would your website. This means you should have titles, descriptions, and URLs that will perform well on both search engines and social media.

Because each social media platform has different ways of optimizing profiles, you should review this handy article from Alex Chris. It outlines all of the steps that are required to optimize your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ profiles.

12. Forgetting Social Media Buttons on Website

Make life easier for you visitors by including social media buttons on your website. This way, if they like a piece of content from your website, they can easily share it through their social media networks with just one simple click.

These social media buttons can also increase your brand’s visibility and fans/followers since once a visitor follows your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts they’ll receive the latest information you share.

HubSpot has a great “Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Creating Social Media Buttons.”

13. Being Too Casual

There may be times when you’re conflicted about the level of professionalism involved. After all, for the most part, social media should be fun and interactive.

However, as we’ve mentioned before, you must maintain a professional relationship. So, mentioning what you ate for lunch probably isn’t really going to help your brand’s social media presence – unless you are a restaurant.

We’ll mention Taco Bell as an example again. Taco Bell’s social media presence is fun and entertaining. However, someone went too far and made an offensive remark. Taco Bell immediately got serious and announced that it does not tolerate bigotry.

14. Only Sharing Content From Your Website

Besides reaching new customers and followers, you’re also using social media to network within your industry. This is why you should be following industry leaders and influencers and sharing their content. This will eventually help increase your followers since you’re kind of riding on the coattails of established and trusted individuals.

You need to have a variety of content that is informative or entertaining for your audience. And the best way to do that is by sharing insightful content from authority figures.

15. Being Inexperienced

Social media is at the crossroads of generations. Younger people have the experience and knowledge to use social media, but they may lack the networking and people skills the older generation has acquired over the years. What does this mean?

It means there are social media posts which would have never gotten past experienced managers or executives because they may not be professional. This is why it’s important for everyone on your team to understand both the basics of social media and the professionalism necessary in the business world.

In short, make certain everyone is on the same page when it’s time to share your brand’s visions and values.

16. Increasing Amount of Followers Too Fast

While you definitely want to increase the amount of followers you have on social media, you want to make sure you don’t acquire too many followers too quickly.  Why? Because you’re probably doing something against the rules if this happens.

It’s tempting to follow the advice of people who promise hundreds or thousands of new followers in a short amount of time (often for 5, 10, or $20 bucks), but it’s not an organic approach. These tricks or hacks may deliver new followers for a moment, but you could be face penalties—like not being allowed to add new friends or even having your account suspended.

Also, many of these “guaranteed real!” followers are not people in your target audience. Seeing that number grow each time you log in might feel good, it isn’t actually helping you reach people who will actually support your brand.

17. Leaving Comments Unattended

Let’s be honest here. There are some nasty people online who have nothing better to do than make your life as stressful as possible. If you do not address these people, aka trolls, they’ll grow like weeds in a flower bed. After all, it only takes that one comment for things to spin out of control.

Make sure that you address all comments and complaints in a professional and timely manner. When dealing with a heckler, the best thing to do is not to sink to their level and get angry. That’s when things can get real ugly. has a helpful guide for handling these situations.

18. Hiring a Social Media Manager Just Because They’re “Tech Savvy”

Just because someone is “tech savvy”, and knows everything on the technical side of social media platforms, doesn’t mean they can handle the duties of a social media manager.

Sometimes, hiring a marketing or communication expert would be a better option since they will have a better understanding of what your audience is expecting, your business objectives, and the ramifications of an offensive post can be.

19. Relying on Just One Person

Creating and sharing content, along with engaging your audience, on social media can take up a lot of time and effort. This is why you should have a social media team in place. This way, if someone gets busy with other work, your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media pages won’t just sit there inactive.

Also, having a team in place means you can respond to customers and followers on a more timely basis. This is a great way to build your reputation as a brand dedicated to customer support.

20. Not Knowing The Difference Between a Personal and Business Account

Did you know that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and, Google+ have both personal and business pages? It’s a great way to make sure you can have a personal and professional life on social media. Just remember, you will first have to have a personal profile and that you still need to be careful about what you post.

However, it does allow a little more flexibility in showing your personality. If you have employees, make sure that they represent your brand by not sharing anything offensive.

21. Bad Timing For Scheduled Posts

Many of us have posts scheduled in advance. It just makes life easier to plan ahead.

But what if there was a crisis? Let’s say that you have a footwear company and wrote an article about the greatest Boston Marathon of all-time. You leave the post scheduled and then there was the horrible attack during the Marathon. Your content would come across as tactless because people will believe you are trying to cash in on a tragedy.

Always keep up with the news, and if necessary, make sure you postpone posts that are scheduled at inappropriate times.

22. Not Creating Incentives

Always make sure that followers are getting something out of your social media outlets. While contests and freebies are proven tactics, you don’t always have to give something away. You could provide timely responses, educational advice to better their lives, a sneak peek at a new product or even a behind the scenes look at your company.

23. Underestimating Data

What’s the point in continuing your social media efforts if you don’t know how effective your campaign is? How many people did it reach? What content interested your followers the most? All of these are important questions that need to be answered through analytics.

Tools like Sproutsocial, Buffer, Google Analytics, Moz Analytics and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud can all assist you in collecting and measuring data that can improve your social media presence.

24. Not Promoting Your Profiles Through Advertising

This may come as a surprise, but not all of your followers are going to catch your posts. It was recently revealed that if you had 1,000 likes on your Facebook page, then maybe 10 to 20 people will see your posts. This means that you may have to start paying for ads.

All of the major social media outlets offer advertising that can help increase your visibility, which in turn, can increase more fans, likes and followers. And, it’s actually not that much of a cost.

25. Not Having a Check-and-Balance System in Place

Whether it’s another set of eyes to proofread your status or making sure an image is appropriate to share, it’s not a bad idea to have a check and balance system in place. This means prior to sharing content on social media someone else reviews it.

For example, while you may think that pictures of everyone drunk during the office Christmas Party is a great way to humanize your brand, someone else may inform you that those images aren’t decent and can send the wrong impression of your company.

This shouldn’t keep content from being creative or shared quickly, it just should be a fail safe to prevent your brand from living in a PR nightmare.

26. Being a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy

Go through the Newsfeed of your Facebook account. Which statuses are you more likely to read? The ones welcoming the birth of a child, enjoying a day at the beach, or sharing a motivational image? Or the statuses complaining about work, being sick or just how terrible life is?

Generally, we’re more inclined to read and respond to positivity on social media. Instead of bashing the competition or spreading negativity, share content that is uplifting, inspirational, or lighthearted. This type of content is more likely to be viewed and shared.

In short, positive content is more valuable than negative content.

27. Being Inconsistent

There’s a rhyme and reason to when and how much content you share on social media. For example, you should discover the best times when your audience is online.

If that happens to be Monday through Thursday at 5:00, then that’s when you should be posting content—and that needs to be on a regular basis.

People will begin to expect seeing your updates at certain times everyday. If you break that habit for even just a week, your followers are likely to forget about you and move on.

28. Failing to Create ‘Authenticity’

Another way of putting this is “don’t talk about it, be about it.”

Customers need to believe you’re an expert in your industry. They want to believe the products or services you provide are those  you would use as well.

If you proclaim yourself as an environmentally aware brand, then don’t dump trash or chemical waste in a lake. Be honest and always practice what you preach.

29. Posting Without Images/Videos

You’ve probably noticed a lot of content consists of either images or videos. That’s because these visual pieces of content are faster for us to process (60,000 times faster than text) and are easily sharable.

Having a high-quality image or video can also increase the amount of likes for your post. On Facebook, for example, images are liked twice as much.

30. Improper Use of Hashtags

Hashtags have become such a phenomenon that they’re often mocked (that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake sketch is still great though). However, hashtags can give your social media content a major boost.

It was found that when brands use a hashtag on Twitter, engagement can increase by 50 percent. This is a great way to expand your reach. Hashtags also serve an equally important role on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

However, you don’t want to overdo it with hashtags. Having too many hashtags looks cluttered and desperate, so use relevant hashtags in moderation. Also, make sure that it’s legible. Using something like #thisiswaytoolongofasentencetouseinahashtag is just ridiculous! No one can read that. Keep it simple and to the point.

Is there anything that you’ve noticed that should be avoided on social media?


Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

CategorySocial Media

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Albert Costill


Albert Costill is a co-founder of and a freelance writer who has written for brands like and Search ... [Read full bio]

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