You’re at a dinner party, sitting next to the only couple you hoped you wouldn’t be stuck beside. They’re the type to bring cheap wine to the party, but only drink the good stuff while there. They’ve cornered you in yet another boorish conversation that’s all about them and your eyes begin to gloss over.
Social media should not be like this dinner party.
Post too many boring, repetitive, or overly promotional messages and people will just unfollow your brand and scroll on. A good conversation requires both parties to listen, ask questions, and share equally—no matter where it happens.
We’ve applied this standard conversational etiquette to social media marketing, and have come up with the top six bad habits you should quit doing (and tips on how).
Social media bad habit No. 1: Conversational narcissism
The biggest bad habit out there is conversational narcissism. This is when people (or businesses) always seek to turn the conversation back to themselves. Mastering the art of conversations applies to both in-person conversations and those on social media. Too much self- or brand-promotion isn’t good practice for networking with others—and doesn’t offer incentive for others to want to listen to you. In short, it’s disengaging.
To counter this on social media, try asking your audience questions, participating in comment threads, sharing or weighing-in on industry trends, handing out useful tips and information, or engaging with your follower’s content. We posted about the social media rule of thirds a while back, and we still stand by sharing a combination of:
- One-third social content that promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
- One-third social content that surfaces ideas and shares stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
- One-third social content based on personal interactions and building your brand.
Social media bad habit No. 2: Taking a mile when they gave you an inch
Too much brand promotion, sales pitching, and blatant advertising on social can annoy your audience. Don’t drown them in social sales content with links to buy this or try that (or Retweet and like this!). If you must sell your products and services on social media, offer your audience something in return—and always mix it up with useful content.
Try encouraging your audience to create content for you. For example, if you have a clothing brand, why not launch a photo contest that entices your community to capture creative photos with your products? User-generated content helps soften the blow of hard sales, but still gets your business’ products and services out there, while leveraging fans to market for you. Build a symbiotic and engaging relationship with your audience—if you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours, so to speak.
Social media bad habit No. 3: Always the talker, never the listener
A good conversation is never one sided, but when it comes to social media, many seem to forget this. When all you do is post, you can’t hear if your audience responds. So many businesses share content and ask for likes on the regular, but go silent when someone asks a question or sparks a conversation.
There are many great listening tools out there (obviously, we recommend Hootsuite), that help you easily see all conversations around your brand and give you the opportunity to like or respond to posts from your audience. Try combining your listening efforts with analytics to understand what your audience cares about and join those conversations. Share content posted from your communities and like what they’ve put forth. Listening is a good look for your brand—and could set you apart from your competitors.
Social media bad habit No. 4: Canned responses
Social media came from the need to strengthen personal, human connections online. Yet so many businesses and brands give automated, robotic responses. Your loyal fans and followers took the time to find you, reach out, and make a connection. Next time you hit copy and paste in your compose message box, ask yourself: ‘does this response reflect the personality of my business?’
Remember that every social network attracts a different audience and has its own type of content that resonates most with that audience—and canned responses have no place anywhere. Create an individual engagement plan for each network and audience. Put brand guidelines in place to help answer any questions you may have on tone of voice, personality, humor, content type, and compliance (for regulated businesses). Just remember: canned responses are for robots.
Social media bad habit No. 5: Spamming
Trust is huge on social media—break it and people will retaliate by reporting and blocking you. There’s a wide spectrum of social media spam out there. From least severe to most, here’s a handful of offenses that you want to avoid:
- Misusing hashtags
- Serial posting
- Posting the same content over and over again
- Click-baiting your audience (enticing people to click a link, but not delivering)
- Promoting your product and services in inappropriate groups, channels, threads, etc.
- Spamming comment threads
- Fraudulent reviews
- Creating fake accounts
- Hacking into social media accounts
One of the less severe offenses, serial posting, is often a result of overcompensating for lack of consistent posting. Try creating a content calendar, where you plan out what to post, when, and schedule it ahead-of-time. This will also help you avoid big gaps in posting.
Hashtag misuse may seem silly, but there’s nothing worse than jumping on a sensitive hashtag only to promote yourself (cue the PR nightmare). Do some research on what hashtags work for you before posting them. Only jump on trending hashtags and keywords if you know exactly why they’re trending and it makes absolute sense for your brand.
Social media bad habit No. 6: Feeding the trolls
There’s nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing a social media manager desperately trying to protect his or her brand—or rationality behind sharing something—in the midst of a social media crisis.
If you find yourself under sudden hellfire on social media for sharing the wrong hashtag or posting something you shouldn’t have, here are a few words to live by: always let people say their piece, do not interrupt, and never, never delete the evidence (cue screenshots and the further wrath of the internet). If you plan to respond, focus on acknowledging the mistake and putting out an authentic apology. For more tips on how to come back from a social media fail, check out our blog post on the subject.
That wraps up our top social media bad habits. Just remember that social media is like a great conversation, so always listen, share equally, ask questions, be engaging and trustworthy, and back off if the conversation goes sideways.
As always, stay social!
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