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The ultimate social media sins

For our next stop on the social media school train, we’re branching away from hashtags and looking at the other ultimate sins of social media. Despite the amazing benefits of social media for businesses, there can be some drawbacks if they aren’t used correctly. The following tips should help you find the right balance for your social media accounts.

Not being social

The first sin in our list is to setting up accounts and not using them. Social media is about conversation and interaction with stakeholders and communities, and having social media accounts with no activity sends a terrible message to your followers. Imagine having a face-to-face chat with someone who doesn’t answer back – that would be you. It is the epitome of a token gesture with no following through, and not the image any company would wish to present.

Equally sinful is sharing your own content but not engaging with content produced by others. We all know someone who talks only about themselves, and these are the last people we want to engage in conversation. Lack of engagement with others in your network demonstrates a lack of care for your customers, employees or other stakeholders in your community, which will drive them away from your accounts.

Repeating content

Some campaigns make it necessary to write a lot of content about the same topic, service or event, but there is a marked difference between reinforcing a message and simply regurgitating the same posts. Followers will quickly get sick of the seeing repeated content and will combat this irritation by turning their attention elsewhere. Try to be creative with your content and find different ways to deliver the same message.

Using different mediums of delivery, such as images, gifs or videos as opposed to plain text, can be a great way to add range and interest to your content. It can also be useful to develop a theme for your posts. Giving yourself a lens to look through can really up the creative juices and get you creating content which is fresh and memorable.


Much in the same vein, too much content can be just as off-putting as repetitive posts. Flooding your followers’ news feeds with content – particularly sales materials – is a sure-fire way to drive stakeholders away from your social media accounts; this goes for direct messages too. It can be tempting to communicate everything to your online community as often as you can, but quality is much more important than quality when it comes to social media.

If you want to use mentions to extend the reach of your posts, make sure the people involved are relevant to the post and receptive to your engagement; just mentioning people to generate more attention will make your posts less credible and detract from the business focus. While followers will skip straight over spam posts, well-crafted messages will engage them and incur those valuable interactions.

Fake followers

Fake followers are social media accounts which offer to increase the follower numbers of a particular account, sometimes in exchange for money. They add large numbers of followers to the account in question and give the impression of heightened popularity and influence. This has the obvious downside of being deceptive, which is not the impression any organisation ought to give online.

Besides this, fake followers will often ignore the account after following it, and therefore do not contribute to engagement figures. They compromise the credibility of genuine followers, and can even put them at risk of scams and hacks. A small community of genuine followers will be much more beneficial to your business that a horde of fake accounts with no real interest.

Being fake

Equally, being fake yourself is just as damaging to your online reputation. Social media users often find comfort in the relative anonymity of the internet, but for businesses your online persona must be an honest and trustworthy representation of the company. There is no justification for a business to try and increase the influence of its account with false information.

Everything you post must be accurate and provable; to be exposed posting false information will paint your company as fraudulent and untrustworthy, and will lose you the respect of your stakeholders both online and off. Meanwhile, establishing an online persona which does not accurately represent your company’s ethos and values can create confusing inconsistencies within your communications. Being honest about your company’s character on social media will reinforce the voice and persona that your stakeholders identify with.

Treating all social networks the same

This is a big no-no. While many social media networks do offer similar ways to interact and engage with other users, they should never be approached from the same angle. For example, Facebook and Twitter are very broad networks where users can interact with both businesses and personal friends within the same space; it is more acceptable therefore to use personal or conversational language on these networks.

LinkedIn, however, is exclusively a professional network. While certain topics can transcend the boundaries between networks, you would not be wise to deliver a message on LinkedIn using the personal language you posted on Facebook. The key to understanding what’s appropriate for different networks is to understand who uses each one and why.

Too many selfies

There will be occasions where selfies are acceptable – just look at our super spooky selfie from Halloween!



However, selfies are mostly a personal social media feature rather than a professional one, and while many businesses utilise social media to humanize their organization, they need to be careful not to disrupt the boundary that separates casual and corporate identities. Followers must never have any doubt that you are serious about your business; too many selfies can undermine this credibility. As a simple solution, try swapping a selfie for a group photo taken by someone else; they’re easier to stage than selfies and maintain professionalism while still promoting the people behind the business.


We hope our rundown of social media sins have been helpful for you. If you’re after any more input on improving your organisation’s social media, give us a call.



Related links:

Social media sins: Harvey’s Horrible Hashtags http://harveyandhugo.com/social-media-sins-harveys-horrible-hashtags/

Five terrific Twitter tools to boost your profile http://harveyandhugo.com/five-terrific-twitter-tools-to-boost-your-profile/

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