7 Pitfalls of Bad Social Media Etiquette
One would think that good social media etiquette is common sense. For anyone who has been around social media platforms for some time, you know social media etiquette is not so common after all.
You may even be making these social media etiquette mistakes without you even realizing it.
The constantly changing trends of social networks make it difficult to keep up with social media etiquette best practices. If you are not always on social media, you may find yourself lost in the nuances of its unspoken rules. If business owners are not careful, for instance, they might already be offending their market without even knowing it.
It takes practice to fully understand how to behave accordingly in social media as we use sites such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. We use these apps several times daily that it’s become so second nature we may not even realize the dos and don’ts of social media etiquette. Here are some of these bad social media habits we need to avoid doing, to leave a good impression on social media:
Don’t Sound Pitiful or Needy
Even in real life, hard selling is as tacky as can be. So is repeatedly asking on social media to “please like,” “please follow,” “please subscribe,” “please retweet,” or “please share.” It’s even more pitiful to go around your social network, asking people to do so in private or direct messages. Your support base needs to grow organically to be more stable. The growth can be quick or gradual, but it has to be organic for real, lasting success. If you are producing quality content anyway, then it will be retweetable, insta-worthy, likeable, and shareable. You would not need to beg or bleed for a thumbs up. High-quality content is an excellent social media strategy, and you need to do this from the start. If you are already asking and ordering people to do something for you at the beginning of your relationship, it is not a good start.
No Trolling or Spamming
Along the lines of not being needy, don’t annoy people in your network with spamming or trolling behaviour like endlessly retweeting, liking, commenting, or posting to raise your engagement stats. Don’t join multiple groups posting the same content on all of them and not ever interact with members at all.
Stop Being a Whiner and Quit the Arrogance
Complaining is toxic to your brand, whether you are an digital marketing expert or a business. Complaining about customers or suppliers should be stopped right away if you are doing that. Your social media account should not be used to vent out negative emotions. While it is true that it is your account and you can do whatever you want with it, you are still sharing online space with hundreds of others who may not appreciate all the negativity spewed on their feed. Remember that if you are part of people’s network, whatever content you put out there goes to their space. They also have all the freedom to unfollow, unfriend, unlike, dislike, or block you from entering their network. So that complaint you thought was harmless wasn’t so harmless after all.
Consumers and followers will also see that if you can rant about other people, what stops you from ranting about them when things go awry in their business deals or transactions with you? It also sends an arrogant vibe from your end, whether you’re aware of it or not.
We have heard employees getting fired because of complaints about their company or boss made on social media. This concept is also true in an eCommerce setting. Don’t get “fired” by your customers and stakeholders because of the negativity and arrogance you project on social media.
When you receive complaints from customers and followers, do not ignore and especially, do not fight them on a public platform. Address every complaint professionally, so people see that you are willing to give them your time and attention even if they are complaining. Grow from and through every adversity of bad publicity and complaints by staying professional and positive.
Don’t Produce Low-Quality Content
- Avoid Poor Grammar and Spelling
Always check your grammar and spelling before posting. Double-check if you have to because few things hurt your credibility as quickly as composition mistakes in grammar and spelling. There are open source proofreading and grammar checkers, but if you want to produce premium content, invest in paid apps that can check your documents more comprehensively. It’s better to put your content first on a document or a spreadsheet with grammar and spell-check. If you don’t have a social media team, you can ask employees or a colleague to proofread before sharing. It also helps to read your post out loud to yourself so you can check if it’s readable and understandable. Simplify any word, phrase, or sentence that does not make sense or can be misunderstood by your readers.
- Don’t Write in All Caps and Exclamation Points
ALL CAPS FEEL LIKE YOU ARE YELLING TO YOUR VIEWERS WHEN YOU ARE NOT!!! Stop using all caps right away, and throw away those unnecessary exclamation points, ellipses and what not.
- Don’t Overuse Hashtags
If #youthink that multiple #hashtags are #supercool, #legit, and #awesome, well, think again. The concept of using hashtags is using specific keywords that can drive traffic to your post, and also links your post to other posts. If you put highly-unique and unsearchable hashtags such as #thebestbarbequesauceintheuniverse or #ithoughtineededtoquitbutijustneededtosleep. One or two hashtags may suffice, three to four, if the hashtags are concise. When you use hashtags strategically, hashtags can increase your online visibility and followers. When abused, it can turn off viewers because, honestly, it’s something that trolls would do. It dramatically devalues your account.
- Don’t Reshare the Same Content Repeatedly
To produce high-quality content, you need to be fresh and create new content consistently. Low-quality social media sites recycle posts without even updating them. It makes you look like you don’t care at all.
If you are using the same content for different social media platforms, edit and refresh the content each time, catering specifically to the type of audience you serve for each social media platform.
- Don’t Produce Unresearched and Plagiarised Content
Always credit your sources, tag pictures you use, and do not plagiarise content, or pass off original content as your own. Don’t just copy-paste and churn out articles to make it look you are always posting updates. Remember that information now is so accessible, and people would know if you are plagiarizing content easily. Plagiarising is stealing, and stealing is something that makes you look untrustworthy. Be careful with your sources because a lot of content out there has been auto-generated or spun. Producing unverified data is not good for your image, either.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
Don’t be so obsessed with reaching a million followers right away, and revolving all activity in your social media accounts around that goal. Honestly, that goal is self-serving and will do you more harm than good in the long run. What you want is to naturally grow your followers by producing quality content that relates to them and serves their needs or queries. If you can be a consistent source of an answer for the questions they are asking, then viewers will naturally follow and keep following you. They will recommend you to their network, increasing your credibility. So revolve your social media strategies on that—serving others and being a solution to their needs.
Make Security a Top Priority
- Don’t Share Personal Information
Whether it’s yours or other people’s, do not share personal information on social media, like full names and addresses, and the like. You can provide details of your company or where you do business, but as for personal identifiers, refrain from doing so.
Do not make your business pages a dumping ground for pictures of your family, or much worse, your selfies. Just as you would refrain from bringing your home into a business meeting, mixing your personal social media posts with your business accounts is also unprofessional. Unless you are some celebrity and your brand is your personal life, do not endanger your children or other family members by taking them public digitally. Trolls are on the lurk for such information to exploit at their heart’s content, for whatever malicious purpose they can think of.
Separating your business and personal accounts also means you do not flood your private social media network with your business posts and offerings. Do not cross the line. Maybe you can inform your network once in a while if somebody is interested in checking out your business social media site but never invade their space with the hopes of selling your brand or product.
- Don’t Share Your Employee’s Personal Information
Just as you would not share your personal information, do not share your employee’s information as well. If you need to post something about your team, keep it strictly about what they do in your company. Ask their permission before you share any information about them as well.
- Regularly Check your Online Content
Always check your social media platforms and website. More than a hundred users experienced a Facebook Trojan attack in 2015, and the attackers’ bait was the promise of a specific kind of adult material that required users to download Flash if they wanted to see the full content. The Flash player turned out to be malicious fraud that infected a Trojan virus on users’ devices, allowing cyberattackers to control their keyboard and mouse activities. The virus posted malicious links on the victim’s Facebook accounts, sending private messages with illicit content to all friends in their network. Those who opened the links also got infected with the virus. This technique has been used by an international rebel group who used fake social media and Skype accounts posing as female account holders, which was used to lure rebel soldiers and get them to download malicious content, which allowed attackers to breach data in the rebel soldiers’ devices.
Some attacks came as posts injected into a business or brand’s account without their knowledge. Checking your content and updating regularly avoids this. Change your passwords often and make them complex.
Also, use reliable and robust security software to protect you, your devices, and your network. Know how antivirus software works and why you need to have one.
Don’t Be Unreachable
Always make sure your viewers know you are reachable when they need you. In reality, it is rude not to respond to friends and clients. Do not do this on your social media accounts. The very fact that you are on a “social” media site says it all—there is going to be an interaction there, and if you are a brand or a business, invest in ways, so your viewers and clients to be able to contact you quickly through private message, direct message, comments and reviews, email, toll-free numbers, and other contact information you are willing and able to provide.
Conclusion: Get Out of the Pit by Practicing Good Social Media Etiquette
Practicing proper social media etiquette is just good practice. It’s more than making an excellent first impression, but building a trustworthy brand that must consistently resonate through their social media platforms. Think before you post because your posts represent you and your brand. A HootSuite infographic shows things you need to think about before you post:
Having the right intentions with your social media platforms and your website will ultimately guide you in how you build and maintain your social media sites. Hopefully, your purpose is to help more than to sell. Your posts as you answer the needs of the global community that follows and supports you. Think in their shoes—what will excite them? What will help them? What will add value to their lives? Having those factors straight, have fun in creating content that meets their needs. Try new ideas like streaming or videos and interactive polls. If you’re having fun, your posts will reflect that. Maximise your web design, where ultimately, your social media accounts point at. Be aware of the roles of web design in your business profitability. Be mindful of the social media trends so you are up-to-date with the practices you follow in terms of social media, keeping your marketing strategies fresh. For a very demanding and ever-changing world that is social media, where staying fresh is crucial to stay social.
John Ocampos is an Opera Singer by profession and a member of the Philippine Tenors. John is also the Strategic SEO and Influencer Marketing Manager of Softvire Australia – the leading software eCommerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand.