As anyone in business knows, you can’t be in business today without a social media presence. We also know social media can be a double-edged sword – especially without a strategy. People’s social media habits change like the weather, and scientifically speaking, it’s a daily study in what is working and what is not to get your target audience and current followers to stay with you and realize ROI from your efforts.

However, there is one thing that does not change – what NOT to do on social media. Customers, potentials, and peers are all human and still react poorly and swiftly to certain triggers that human nature won’t ignore. Here are the 7 Deadly Social Media Sins that can, in a click of a mouse or a swipe, erase all the hard work you’ve done to build your brand.

#1. Lust – Followers

Are you under the impression that the number of followers you have on social media automatically equates to business growth?

Do you obsess about your number of followers versus your competitors’?

On the quest for maximum social media visibility, if you’re trying to collect a mass of followers and subscribers via the quickest, easiest route – maybe you’re even buying followers – it simply won’t give you what you seek.

Consumers are savvy and desensitized to the ever-increasing attempts at faked “personalized” posts, sales pitches, and opt-ins. Even if they take the bait, without a true connection to you and your brand, they will bounce in a single click in favor of the right brand for their headspace. 20,000 followers can bring the same amount of business as 5,000 followers…How?

The NUMBER of followers you have does not directly correlate to love and growth. The QUALITY of engaged followers is where you will realize results. Accumulating a community naturally that fits your brand is going to inspire growth.

Organic followers are proven to be more loyal, convert to sales, and even act as a referral source. Think about your social media connections as people you might meet at a networking event. You don’t walk into the room and pass out 100 business cards and think, “These are all great connections now!” You choose who you interact with and find those who have a genuine “connection” with you, your values, and your goals, then you nurture that relationship carefully.

The number of social media followers as a metric is meaningless. The interactions (see #2) and depth of engagement with the RIGHT followers opens the door to conversions that bring ROI and longevity to your brand. Numbers can be helpful as a guide to part of the bigger picture, but they are not hard and fast indicators of progress.

Stop lusting after big numbers. Start engaging.

stop lusting after big numbers steph nissen social media sins

#2. Sloth – Cross Posting and Response Time

You send the same post to every social media platform, or “cross-posting,” and have slooooowwww reaction time to comments, reviews, messages. Double-whammy!

Cross-Posting 101. Undoubtedly, you and your business are on several social media networks. Do you post the same content on each one every time you post? This is considered cross-posting, which can be regarded as unprofessional or “lazy” – doing the minimal effort expecting maximum results.

Easy plug-ins encourage publishing posts on various sites at the same time, so it seems like the right thing to do. However, if you have a follower on Facebook, for example, and they see the same post on LinkedIn, they won’t read it again and interaction can go down. If this happens daily or several times a day, you’ll start to get skipped all together.

It’s also important to be sure that what you’re posting makes sense for the platform and the demographics. Use videos that fit their streaming capabilities, use buzz-words for the right site (don’t say “be sure to pin this” if you’re on Instagram), and benefit your brand by changing posts just enough so that the reader will learn something new, the same reader who may have already “liked” your post on Facebook will be happy they opened it again on LinkedIn.

This may not be practical all the time, but once you get used to doing it for, say, half your posts, your audience will be more inclined to interact with you on all platforms.

Responding too slowly to messages, comments, and reviews is your other sloth buddy that’s sure to drive social media fans away.

If you post something, and someone has a question or comment that could lead to new business, and you don’t get back to him or her for an hour, or worse, a day – you’ve lost not only that potential sale, but most likely, you’ve lost them as a follower. Most people want instant answers and attention – if you aren’t prepared to respond, wait to post until you can or hire someone who can do it for you.

#3. Gluttony – SPAM

How many times a day do you post? Hourly? Several times a minute? Do you react to everyone’s posts just to boost your own?

As a professional, this obsessive gluttony reflects terribly on your brand. Trying to get as many followers as possible by being over-reactive and over-posting your message leads to the opposite effect. Maybe, in your desperation to get thousands of new followers a day (because over-posting isn’t working), you’ve sunk to the next level of gluttony – spam bots!

As one blogger put it, “spam bots give new meaning to the phrase ‘marketing automation.’” They’re an unauthorized tool (crawling on the “dark” side of social media) that massively increases followers, regardless of whether the new connections are good prospects, partners, customers, or advocates.

If you’re using bots to auto-like certain hashtags and photos, those who respond or interact in-turn, become followers. However, those 5,000 new followers you got in one day – the majority of those – also bots. It’s a messy, crowded neighborhood in spam-bot world! Research shows only about 2% of new bot-got followers are real. And once they realize your brand doesn’t fit their goals, they’ll be gone. So, what did you really gain?

There is a posting “formula” that, when implemented, portrays the best impression and garners the most interaction for each social media platform. Grow your consumer base organically using best-practices and leave the dark side, well – in the dark.

best practices dark social media sins steph nissen

#4. Pride – Vanity Metrics

Bragging, always posting about ME, ME, ME; never post about the problems you solve for customers and what it means to have your product or service.

You may have the best widget or service in the world, but followers and potentials don’t want to hear it from you constantly. They don’t want to hear the minutiae of how you changed your life in one-hundred days or every prideful thought that pops into your head. Stop oversharing. They can see through humble-bragging and get bored when you always talk about yourself and never actually show how you can solve their problems.

If you’ve been told that posting many, many times a day about yourself is sharing your “brand” and that it will increase those all-important social media numbers – not so. All those posts may temporarily increase numbers but, as previously mentioned, it’s not about large numbers, it’s about quality connections. Getting caught up in what’s considered “vanity metrics,” like Facebook likes, Twitter followers, blog post views, number of subscribers for newsletters, and so on, is not where the conversions live. And you will see your numbers fluctuate like crazy, which can hurt your brand.

Bragging and vanity metrics will not get you actionable numbers that reflect growth. The first rule of selling is this: solve your customers’ or potential customers’ problems and they will love you. It’s about them – not you. Clients and consumers want to learn something worthwhile, they want to see that you support others in your network, and they want to be motivated by you and your business – not annoyed.

#5. GreedConstant Sales Posts

This is akin to #3 and #4 but takes the need to get more followers and increase revenue to desperation level. You’re not just posting too often, you’re constantly selling. You’re incessantly saying, “Buy from me!”

Continually running invasive ads, getting email addresses without permission and then invading inboxes with “salesy” emails, expecting top of the line social media strategy and implementation from an unpaid intern…all in the name of increasing sales without regard to the process and your customers is bad practice. It almost goes without saying that this will turn people away and do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do. To improve your tactics and increase sales, follow a few rules:

  • Start with a well-researched strategy.
  • Do not constantly disrupt people’s browsing experience with “in-your-face” ads.
  • Target your ads wisely; to those who have a history of browsing or liking something that fits your product, service, and brand.
  • Invite your followers and make them feel they have a choice when it comes to seeing you.
  • Make sure your ads and posts solve their problem, make sense to their likes and browsing habits, look professional, and are easy to understand and use.
  • Be clear yet friendly in your sales pitch.
  • Most importantly, do not trick them into clicking on something – no bait and switch.

Retargeting, or repetitive digital advertising and social media marketing works so long as you do it by offering value to those who choose to see you and stop the annoying, desperate attempts at capturing business – those you’re trying to reach will begin to “like” you more.

#6. Envy – Hashtag Hijacking & Comment Sponging

Hashtags are important in social media. They help people find you by searching the hashtag keywords; they help you build your brand. But get your own! Don’t be a # hijacker who deliberately steals a well-positioned hashtag for your own purposes. Just because a hashtag is trending, doesn’t make it okay to use it for a purpose in which it wasn’t intended, like getting people to see your ad.

Not sure if the hashtag you want to use already exists? Do a search first. Roughly 25% of the time, the hashtag you want is already being used for some other purpose. And be careful not to use one that matches someone else’s username. That could really backfire!

So how do you use a hashtag that’s on-trend with a topic that fits your brand? If it’s a legit fit, coming in on the discussion is okay, and those interested in the topic will see your content. But tread lightly! And be careful with the hashtags you create – it’s worth a mention that the wrong hashtag can create a PR nightmare if it’s hijacked by detractors.

Commenting on big brand posts with your sales message is also a huge red flag. Ugh! We see this more and more and it makes companies and business seem desperate. If you want to comment on another brand’s post, do so with kind words and respectfully support them, not “this is great, but I do this better.” Or, “Love this company and use it in my own company that does x,y,z. And I can help you with…” Commenting to sponge business from a bigger brand is bad business practice. Commenting with a legit remark or review can create curiosity for some who will, in-turn, want to learn more about you naturally.

#7. Wrath – Do Not Reply!

We’ve all seen something we do not agree with or makes the anger flow on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram…if you’re a business, there is bound to be someone who doesn’t like what you sell or had a perceived bad experience and posts it for the world to see. Despite the part in all of us that wants to make it right or help someone “understand” our viewpoint – just don’t.

Text lacks context (ironic!). Replying to bad reviews with anger, flinging insults and cursing, or chiming in with wrath over controversial content that has NOTHING to do with your brand reflects terribly on you and your brand. Would you buy from someone or sit face-to-face with someone who acts this way? It’s the ultimate act of humility to stand down. With no fuel for the fire, the comments will die an instant death, and even if someone else keeps it going, it won’t last long. You will be seen, in the long run, to be the bigger person and more professional for simply ignoring it or thanking that person for the information and dropping it.

Then there’s picking fights just to get engagement. That old saying, “bad publicity beats no publicity,” is not true. It may work if you’re of Hollywood fame, but as a business owner or CEO of a corporation – not so much. The damage you (or someone on your team) can do in just one post can undo years’ worth of strategy and brand-building that will now take years to get back. Rein it in, move on, and stay positive.

UC Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers studied 300 subjects who read, watched video of, or listened to arguments about such hot-button topics as war, abortion, and country or rap music. The results: “a broad belief that people who don’t agree with you are either too stupid or too uncaring to know better; they are dismissed as uninformed or heartless.”

It’s About Balance & Tact.

If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face or in a room full of peers, don’t say it on social media. If you are an outspoken “in your face” person or brand, still be you but try to pull back just a little when writing and choose your words carefully since everyone reads text with different inflection and intent.

Be genuine and balance your self-promotion with “thank you” comments, kudos for your connections, and information that’s useful about your brand and others in your network. It is tempting to be everything to everybody, be less than genuine, and be pushy when sharing or advertising. But remember – the goal of social media and all digital marketing is to appeal to active users with professionalism and humanity and encourage engagement. Customer advocacy will go much farther than constant selling.

Overwhelmed? We Can Help!

I know this is a lot to digest. It can be overwhelming when you’re trying to create an entire digital marketing strategy that includes doing exactly the right things on social media while avoiding the 7 deadly social media sins. We can help! Atomic Revenue can help your company reduce churn, drive repeat business, generate leads, and create raving fans through customer success initiatives that you’ve never experienced before. Curious? Reach out to us today.