4 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up in Social Media

Many people will tell you how to be wonderful and amazing on social media, but if you’re new to the game (or you’ve been in it a while but need a reminder) you need to first know what NOT to do.

4 Easy Ways to Kill Your Social Media Game

Twitter account following 1200+ with only 300 some followers

1. Follow Too Many People

This is a common problem among newbies to Twitter and other social channels. Your intentions might be great–“hey, I want to connect with as many people as possible”–but the smart path is to be cool and ease your way in. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as spammy, especially if you’re a brand.

What to do: Follow a good mix of about 25 to 50 accounts. Learn from them. Choose people or companies you’ll want to interact with and do so after listening for a little while. Post content that your target audience will want to read. You’ll start gaining followers, and as you do you can follow more accounts as well.

2. Self-Promote as a Rule

That’s a bad rule. Many marketing “experts” claim you should follow an 80/20 rule–80 percent of your posts should be other-centered, while 20 can be more self-promotional. If someone follows me and I go to their profile and see that their last 10 tweets were all about them, I do not follow (and I may even block them). You don’t want that to happen.

What to do: Approach interaction and postings with the understanding that this is a sharing world, and you’re dealing with human beings. In your in-person conversations, do you talk about yourself all the time? (God, I hope not!) What are topics of interest that your audience might like? Share news in your industry. Share other people’s tweets and posts. Share news about events in your community, especially if you’re a small business owner and rely on local residents for business.

3. Be Reactionary to Be Cool

Think before you post. Current events that have a popular hashtag may draw a lot of eyes to the conversation, and it’s great to have an opinion, but always remember that once you post, your words are online forever.

Brands have gotten into trouble thoughtlessly tweeting using hashtags related to hurricanes, government overthrows and more. Late last year, DiGiorno didn’t bother to find out that #WhyIStay was being used worldwide to talk about domestic violence and insensitively tweeted “#WhyIStay You had pizza.” Four minutes later, after being slammed by fellow tweeters, DiGiorno issued an honest apology: “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting,” and continued to apologized to individual tweeters through the night.

DiGiorno's #WhyIStay tweet

DiGiorno Apology tweet-a million apologies

What to do: Read and understand what the hashtag is about before you use it. Always think of how people will perceive your words before you make them public. Never respond in anger or with emotion–let the emotion settle first and then issue a thoughtful response. This is why I love a scheduling tool. If you schedule every post, even just 5 or 10 minutes ahead, you give yourself time to take a breath and reconsider what you said.

4. Feed the Trolls and Haters

Yes, you will get negative posts directed your way. It’s inevitable, even if everything you do is kind and right. See #3 above for a reminder as to why you should take time to be thoughtful in your response…if you decide to respond at all.

What to do: The best defense is to understand where the comments come from. I manage social media pages for clients, and when I see negative comments or replies to our posts, I first check out the profile of the person who commented. Does this person seem legit or are most or all of their posts attacking people and complaining (this is a troll/hater)? Do not respond to someone who indicates that they will not be reasonable and/or they do this for fun. Often, your fans will take care of these types of people. Do respond to someone with a legitimate complaint or concern, and take your time formulating a response. Sometimes a simple apology is all that’s needed. Other times, you can direct the person offline to have a real conversation and solve the problem. See these types of genuine negative comments as an opportunity to win over your customers. Focus on the desired outcome of the situation–do you want to be seen as right or do you want to make it obvious that you care about your customers?

There are many ways you can screw up on social media, but the best prevention is to act like a considerate human being. The more thoughtful you are online, the more ways you can succeed in social media and digital marketing in general.

Good luck! And if you need advice, you know where to come.