7 Deadly Sins of Social Media

Steph Parker
Steph Parker Activation Strategy, allen & gerritsen

Posted on August 4th 2011

Social media’s been a great tool for marketing, networking, and sharing information. This relatively new technology has truly revolutionized the way businesses, brands, and communities interact with one another. When used right, it starts engaging discussions. It informs people of the latest developments. It helps businesses compete in this global economy. When used incorrectly, it’s an incredibly inefficient use of resources, simply put.

See if you’re committing any of the digital “sins” from this list, and learn how to fix them!

1. Assault

Are you constantly sending out tweets? Is your Facebook wall covered with links, photos, and your latest Foursquare check-ins? Just as much as you dislike being bombed with status updates, your followers do, too. If you’ve found a great link, or have important news to share, prioritize. Pick which updates are most important to your networks, and then create a schedule in which to post them. Unless you’re a newswire or a “broadcaster” who has big social influence in the digital world, hold off on constantly sending posts. Your networks will be more apt to listen to what you have to say if you aren’t constantly doing the talking.

2. Neglect

While you can’t monopolize your networks’ newsfeeds, you can’t disappear from them, either. Remember the quiet kid in class? The few times she raised her hand, the teacher usually didn’t notice because it was such a rarity. That same principle applies. You don’t need to become a social butterfly and initiate every single discussion, but participating to some capacity is key. If people visit your page and notice that it’s bare or outdated, they’ll pass on by without looking back. Take a page out of Assault’s book and try outlining a schedule of posts if you have trouble talking on the fly.

3. Obscurity

There are lots of cool things on the Internet. However, if you’re trying to build credibility as a marketing genius, posting an abundance of links to funny cat videos won’t help you (no matter how cute they are). People should be able to get a sense of what you’re an authority on when they visit your page, and read your posts. If you’re the CEO at a PR firm who has a love of music, include your interest somewhere in your bio. Share a link to a new song you like, or a concert you’re seeing from time to time, but don’t let that lead the conversation. Your main mission is to showcase how much experience and knowledge you have in your industry. Follow the classic 80/20 dieting rule: adhere to the plan 80% of the time, and indulge 20%.

4. Detachment

Remember how our last example involved a CEO highlighting an interest in music? That’s just one of the many ways you can incorporate a little of your personality into your messages. If you have a sarcastic streak, make your next tweet about SEO witty (if you find a way). It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen and let the web do most of the work, but people want to talk to other people, not robots on auto-pilot. No matter how informative or important your post is, remember to be approachable. More often than not, people are guided by the same principles they follow in real life for befriending someone online.

5. Inconsistency

As you read earlier, social media is great for getting conversations going. While you should be contributing, don’t simply pose a question to your network, and then disregard the responses you get. If someone makes a thoughtful point, respond to it. Re-post it and elaborate on it. Take the topic to a new level. Some of the most valuable information out there is found when people come together to express their points of view. One of the key things to remember is that social media is social; the more people talk about something, the more of an impact it has. The more you perpetuate the discussion and make intelligent contributions, the more respect you’ll command from your audience.

6. Disconnection

Engage in a variety of networks and services, and give people multiple ways to connect with you! You probably wouldn’t shop at a store that only had one type of shirt and one type of pants, right? You’d rather have a few racks of clothing to browse through to get a better sense of the store. This same idea is true for using social networking sites. The more types of services you use, the better represented you are online. You can use a site like Last.fm to connect over music preferences, while using a bookmarking site like Digg to share your favorite news stories. Your credibility won’t become muddled as long as you remember the specific objective of each service, and post with a purpose.

7. Quantitativeness

It’s not all about the numbers. Sure, to a point you should keep your follower count (and Klout score) in mind, but it shouldn’t be the top source of motivation for your posts. Whether you’re in the PR industry or not, the real motivation for posting should be building relationships with new audiences, and maintaining relationships with old ones. Social media ROI is significant, but only if you weigh qualitative aspects more heavily. It’s easy to “Like” a Facebook page, and it’s just as easy to hide it from sight. You’re still quantifiable as a fan, but qualitatively you’re not actively engaged or listening. See the difference?

Social media is a lot like dating: you don’t want to appear disinterested, but you don’t want to come on too strong, either. If you make calculated moves at the right times, let your personality shine, and focus more on the conversation than the end-result, you’ll build a strong, healthy relationship with your networks.

Steph Parker

Steph Parker

Activation Strategy, allen & gerritsen

Steph Parker is a digital strategist working at an ad shop in Boston. She was also named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising in 2013. Steph gets her hands dirty with research, planning, content, and design, and has worked with several Fortune 500 brands on various campaigns and initiatives. In her spare time, she teaches classes & workshops at General Assembly. 

See Full Profile >

Comments

Posted on August 4th 2011 at 10:50PM

You have to offer value to people to get them to care about you, so I agree that a business simply blasting out dozens of self-promotional tweets per day will likely have a negative effect on your business. Offering something of value to people is definitely a better approach. People have busy lives and a limited patience for stuff that doesn't benefit them, so you have to treat the attention that people give you as a scarce resource. Regarding point 7 about numbers that you made, it's not all about raw numbers I agree. But in our ego driven society, that's probably the first thing that people notice when they visit your page which explains why a bunch of the services listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com exist that help people increase their raw social media numbers. I think a lot of businesses approach social media with the intention of just immediately generating a lot of business when the reality is that many businesses do not do a good job of posting content that connects with customers and it's not something that just anybody is skilled at: you need smart people that understand the internet.

PS: CEO's that want to post funny cat pictures all day long should create a personal twitter account and use that for fun. Just don't mix them up! :)

Sanyika Calloway Boyce
Posted on August 5th 2011 at 8:01PM

Good points AntLion, but I have to say that sites that will write reviews for you and find freinds for you might inflate your numbers but it's soo obvious to the onlooker that when those same "raving fans" aren't consitently posting and interacting that they really don't mean much in the grand scheme of thing. And yes, I agree that when you "treat the attention that people give you as a scarce resource" there will be the rewards that come with being of service.

Posted on August 5th 2011 at 3:32PM

I agree with the assault portion completely. Facebook is the worst for this and has led to me blocking good friends (and even businesses) due to the overload of useless information blowing up my news feed. I believe people just forget how many social media sites (digg, twitter, etc...) are actually linked to their facebook wall.  Great post!

Felix Ofiwe
Posted on August 5th 2011 at 4:24PM

Managing quantity of posts is important but quality is key to success in social media. Unless you have something of value to offer your visitors, it is always better not to post. Be engaged and attentive to what your fans are saying so your posts can be useful to them. By all means, stay away from buying fans or likes on Twitter and Facebook. These are usually waste of time. If you pay someone to like you on Facebook, they will click that Like button but never bother to come back to your page or look at your offer. Create something of value and your visitors will like you without you paying them...

Posted on August 5th 2011 at 7:24PM

I really enjoyed this post. You mention, "The more types of services you use, the better represented you are online," is it possible that all forms of social media won't work for every company? So is it more beneficial to choose a few that will really benefit your company or stake your place in each regardless? 

Sanyika Calloway Boyce
Posted on August 5th 2011 at 7:51PM

This is an excellent post Stephanie!

Being that I tend not to be a natural linear thinker (it's a discipline in progress) I have to admit that the "bright shiney object squarrel chaser" syndrome kicked in when I joined several SM networks and committed more of the "sins" that I'd like to admit (but hey, if anyone is interested to find them I'm sure Google would ablidge...)

Nonetheless, sometimes the only way to find your way is to stumble a few times. Thankfully lists like this can provide insight and clear direction for how not to interact on SM.

Speaking of neglect, I just this week relanunced my blog after not posting to it since March 2010... due to and sins #4, 5 & 7...

Finally, I’ve figured out how to relaunch a blog after a long lapse.

Step 1: Own up to the things you know you’ve shortcut, avoided or neglected.

Step 2: Fix them.

Step 3: Get clear about who you’re going to talk to, why you’re talking to them, and how often you’ll do it.

Step 4: Commit to serving the people you were put on the planet to reach, and trust that if they’re your ideal client and you have what they’re looking fr then your present action will trump your past attempts.


I'll be sure to pass your post along to my peeps. It's worth taking note of. Asking for forgiveness, course correcting and hopefully being granted grace by those who understand that everybody screws it up every once in a while.

Seotop
Posted on January 24th 2013 at 11:08PM

AntLion you have a point here! Absolutely agree with you. 

(c) Andrew Borman ;)

Steph Parker
Posted on January 24th 2013 at 11:37PM

   

Steph Parker
Posted on January 24th 2013 at 11:37PM

Nice backlink attempt.