Let’s begin with some clarity: none of the following are behaviors to which you should aspire. Nor are they mistakes that I had to research extensively. I encounter each and every one of them far too often. All of the examples given below are from my personal experience . . . and within only the last week. Perhaps most unfortunate is how basic each of these are. And yet people keep doing them over and over (and over). So especially on this April Fools’ Day, but really every day of the year, remember not to be a social media fool.
Here are 11 examples of what not to do.
I Am Only an Egg: Just yesterday I received another notification on Twitter with someone following me, naturally wanting to be followed back, with nothing other than the ubiquitous egg as their profile photo. Now, icing on the cake. They are following 1,640 people. They have 5 tweets. I could quote from their profile description . . . but it is truly embarrassing. Remember that your profile is a public persona, and hopefully it is your true persona and not a fake. This is also true of the image you post in place of that egg. Give some thought as far as how you present yourself . . . but do present yourself.
People who Tweet about how they are doing on Twitter: You know how this typical post goes. Something like: “How I did on Twitter this week: 347 New Followers, 16 Mentions, 3.9K Mention Reach. How'd your week go?” So several observations. A) This is obviously a canned message. B) He really doesn’t care how my week went. C) I really REALLY don’t care how they “did on Twitter”. Bonus fail: His profile claims he is a social media expert. I don’t think so.
Tweeting into Tweet Chats with links to a job posting . . . or to your resume: Come on. Whether you are hiring or you’re looking – and especially the later – it makes you look desperate. And spammy. Social media is a terrific recruiting tool, as well as a resourceful way to enhance your job search. But as with all things, there are right ways and wrong ways to proceed. And this is so wrong.
A horribly out of date Website: Okay, I could do an entire blog just on this one fail. (Wait, I already have). Your website is your face to the world. So what do you imagine that world thinks about your organization when your website includes broken links, obviously outdated information, a blog tab on your menu when the last blog you wrote was in 2013, an events calendar with absolutely no events on it whatsoever, a social media button that takes you to a social media profile that is no longer active, etc. Answer: your web visitor will probably never be back. Bonus Fail Points if your website is not yet mobile optimized.
Threatening to Unfollow: I’ve seen a number of writers mention how much they dislike someone begging for likes / follows / connections / pins. Personally, I think the unfollow threat is an even bigger fail. It can manifest itself in the form of either a direct or veiled threat. The direct threat is “I unfollow people who don’t follow me back”. The veiled threat is in the form of daily posts bragging about how many people they have unfollowed today. Either way . . . so what? If I follow you it is for one of several reasons that have nothing to do with your threat. If I don’t follow you, there is also some specific reason for that. You threatening to unfollow me is of no consequence whatsoever, except that it is mildly irritating.
Failure to Proofread Copy before Posting: This is really just plain sad. But first a disclaimer. I am not one of those grammar or spelling trolls on the internet. I don’t constantly point out errors in every Facebook post I read . . . especially in personal posts, or posts made after a particular time at night. But, if you are supposedly a content marketing or social media professional, show a little self-respect.
I read a blog a few days ago where the opening sentence didn’t make any sense at all. The writer obviously went back and edited one or two words, and then failed to read the new sentence to make certain it flowed correctly. It was just awful. The following was in a slide show for a social media agency: “Marketing and communication teams within organization and agencies will become highbrid to bring in diverse skillsets while collaborating across the development of transmedia, omni-channel brand campaigns”. Now aside from this being a generally poorly constructed sentence, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I actually looked up “highbrid” to see if it is a word. The sad thing is that mistakes like these are not a once a month occurrence. Almost every day I read a blog or a post with nonsensical sentences, poor grammar and misspelling. Have a little bit of professional pride.
Poor use of Hashtags: What is the now famous quote from Princess Bride because of all of the memes based on it? “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The same is true of hashtags. Use of hashtags should not be haphazard. They should be strategic. Before you waste some of your valuable 140 characters, do your research. Make certain that you visit that hashtag, see what content is posted there, and even how much it is typically used. You may not gain the added visibility you are hoping for if you find that a particular hashtag has only been used 31 times since July of 2012.
Overuse of Hashtags: Perhaps even worse is when someone is #Using a #hashtag #for #anything #and #everything #on #every #social #network. As an example here is an actual tweet from this morning – “Great day out #Easter #Sunday @nationaltrust #GreatChalfieldManor #wiltshire #Painting #Exhibition #Truffle tasting”. Okay, this is just sad.
The overuse of hashtags on Facebook can be even worse. Greater flexibility in the size of a Facebook post opens the potential for even greater overuse. Personal best I have seen was a Facebook post with 17 hashtags in it. Come on people.
Being Spammy: nobody likes someone who constantly promotes themselves over and over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and, well you get the idea. Remember junk mail from the good old days? And unsolicited telemarketing calls at dinner time? Well that is exactly what this feels like when you overplay self-promotion on social media. It is okay to promote yourself occasionally, but be careful not to overdo it. And one of the first clues that you are over promoting is when you find yourself wondering whether you are. If you ask yourself the question, the answer is almost certainly yes. How much is too much? Difficult to say with precision. But if you are being honest with yourself, you will know.
Curation Errors: One of the hot activities in social media is curation of information. This works well if it’s done correctly. It can even perform an important service to others. But it can also go very wrong. I tend to classify curation errors into three categories: sloppy, ridiculous, and horrific. The sloppy includes reposting old blogs, infographics, etc. that include blatantly out of date information. Just a small example is a post on a social media platform several days ago about Pinterest stating that secret boards were limited to three (no longer true). In fact, there were seven subheadings in that article, and four of them contained dated information. If you are going to post something first check and make certain it is still current. Not doing so makes you look foolish. As far as the ridiculous and the horrific, I’m going to save those for a future article.
And bonus number 11:
Just Generally Poor Judgment in What You Post: Anything and everything you put on the internet can be reposted / shared / retweeted / re-pinned thousands of times. Take the advice of the old Shania Twain song and “Don’t be Stupid”.