The 7 NEW Deadly Sins of Social Media

Steph Parker
Steph Parker Senior Social Strategist, Brand Content

Posted on September 4th 2013

The 7 NEW Deadly Sins of Social Media

best practices social mediaTwo years ago, I wrote the original 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media here on Social Media Today. While many of those offenses continue to hold true, the landscape has changed considerably, and with it, our knowledge of each platform. Every good social strategy evolves with its audience (and brand!), so here are seven new sins that reflect what social media managers are struggling with now - and how to reset your course. 


Just because something is happening doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of it for your brand. There’s a difference between being clever and being annoying, and forcing the royal baby into your content schedule for the sake of a post is spammy, not clever. An example? The summer’s weirdest trend: Hot Dogs, or Legs? Brands that sell hot dogs jumped in, and that made sense because, well, they sell hot dogs. Brands selling outdoor gear, on the other hand? A less clear connection that looks like a desperate plea for engagement. The saying that any content is good content is false. Keep it grounded in your brand’s footprint.


The worst community management offense is arguably what I call the “hit and run.” Different from the neglect I called out in 2011, abandonment is when a post has been made by the brand, but then the brand drops off from re-engagement completely. Social media is a vehicle for conversation, and if you fail to keep one going, you’ll also fail to be top of mind when consumers are offline. It's all about creating positive feelings that will, at the end of the day, become a reference point for your brand when someone reaches across the aisle to pick up your product. 


As a strategist, I’ve been fascinated with things like Facebook’s EdgeRank since word of it first surfaced. However, we’ve now reached a point as an industry where brands are posting photos simply because they have a longer hang time in the news feed, not because they’re part of a tight content strategy. Stop with the word searches and games, and start posting things that will inspire people. Similarly, don't ask people to vote on posts with likes or comments unless you plan on doing something with those insights (like tailoring your content). How will that word search post of yours deepen consumer relationships, anyway? It won’t, so don’t.


Another offense that’s committed on a regular basis by social media managers? Forgetting to study up on the terms of service each platform has. Did you know, for example, that you can’t use Instagram photos in advertisements without express consent? Or, that you can’t ask Facebook users to share a post as part of a contest entry? Each platform is getting more stringent, and will suspend you if you’re not carefully following their rules. Know what you’re doing so that all of your projects run smoothly.  


Identifying a passion point for your audience is a powerful tool for success, but beating it to death ruins the point. Have followers who love football? Give them content that validates that passion in a myriad of ways. Simply switching the team you mention in the same post template won’t do it. Get creative with your content. The internet is a resource that should, in this case, serve to inspire and influence what branded content you create. If you’re running out of steam, it’s time to do more research about what your fans connect to. Remember to keep it on brand, or else you risk our first new sin.


It’s the piece of feedback that content designers are all too familiar with: make the logo bigger. However, plastering a logo onto every single piece of content isn’t emphasizing your role as a trendsetting social brand; it’s making you look like a personified advertisement. There’s a time and a place for your logo to go on content (like if it’s posting to a third party where others will share directly from there, not you). Adding your logo to half of an image on your Instagram feed, however? Not going to work. As a consumer, I don't want to feel like I’ll be spamming my friends by sharing your content. Let the cool factor lead here. Giving your audience a way to look smart to theirs requires a little subtley, but ultimately rewards you. 


Each platform has different strengths and weaknesses. While Twitter is the go-to for second-screen activity, Facebook allows for the most data capturing when running a sweepstakes. Instagram video and Vine video have different qualities. Failing to see how to use each platform uniquely to create a harmonized social strategy will ultimately bore your audience & cause them to develop loyalties elsewhere. Don’t cross-post the same thing every time; look at how you can make the most impact. Run competitive audits to see what utilities you can provide, on each of your platforms, that will change the way your brand’s industry is interacting. Sure, it requires more work, but nothing worth having ever comes easily.

Steph Parker

Steph Parker

Senior Social Strategist, Brand Content

Steph Parker is currently leads the social team at Brand Content, a full service ad shop in Boston. She was also named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising in 2012. Steph gets her hands dirty with research, planning, content, and design, and has worked with several Fortune 500 brands on various campaigns and initiatives.

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Belinda Summers
Posted on September 5th 2013 at 5:33AM

Monotony is a common mistake most people make. In order to reach your audience you need to capture their attention. And the way to do that is to create content that will be helpful to them.

Posted on September 5th 2013 at 7:18AM

There's no doubt that social media is a very powerful tool for our marketing campaign. But if you don't know how to use it the right way, it could also lead you to failure. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Posted on September 6th 2013 at 6:58AM

Thanks for this Steph.

I especially like your comment about abandonment.

Many small business owners I run accross don't get the concept of Social media being a vehicle for conversation.  Many are "Like" or "Lead" focused instead.  Creating conversation should be one of a small business person's primary social media goals.  

Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:15AM

Now that I just finished reading your posts. I can avoid these mistakes! The 1st mistake is the one I am guilty. Looks like I need to be more active to maximize social media engagement.

Steph Parker
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:02PM

Hey, half of the reason we all can relate to these is because we've all been there, too. Glad you got something good out of the list & thanks for reading!

Posted on September 6th 2013 at 2:36PM

Thank you. What you are saying is really: put back the "SOCIAL" in Social Media. People see through the posting for business sake. Business people mistakenly believe they must maximize the return on every post and tweet, forgetting that people need to trust and like you before they consider doing business with you. It takes more time and effort to be yourself than to market yourself and the salesman has less patience to allow for proper relationship building. Take the time...

Total Social Solutions
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 7:15PM


I've been saying that for a couple of years. "Put the SOCIAL BACK into SOCIAL media!"

It's something most brands are missing.

Steph Parker
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:00PM

You got it! I firmly believe social media should be viewed as the conversation mechanism to other, non-social (and integral) parts of a brand's business. 

Posted on September 6th 2013 at 2:39PM

People know a salespitch when they see it. Be social and trust the power of relationship building. It takes time, but is worth the investment.

Total Social Solutions
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 7:05PM

Actually, Facebook did away with the rules about contests.  You can ask fans to share, like and comment on posts to enter into a contest.  You can also ask them to check-in or post photos to your timeline to enter contests too. They very recently did away with the 3rd party app rule.

Steph Parker
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 7:59PM

Jennifer, thanks for reading. The sharing I'm referring to here is on a user's own timeline, which the new gunderlines still prohibit (here's the ugly link: Personally I think that's a good thing, or else it would be even more spammy.

Total Social Solutions
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:20PM

Thanks for the clarification! This is very important information to have.  The link I read didn't lay it out quite like that!

Steph Parker
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:24PM

No problem! I saw a few articles run by last week when the news first hit, and they made it seem like promos could now be free-for-alls. No surprise Facebook still has their tricks!

Total Social Solutions
Posted on September 6th 2013 at 8:32PM

Right. The link I supplied didn't specifically call out shares as okay or not okay.  Those tricky Facebookers.