Social media has changed a lot in the past few years. Has your marketing strategy kept pace?

Only a decade ago, the idea that companies should invest serious marketing dollars into their social media channels seemed silly. Now it’s 2019, and many brands aren’t only taking social media seriously, they’ve accumulated several years of bad habits.

So, while we’d like to congratulate you for using social media, we’d also like to draw your attention to some common social media bad practices that are either out of date, behind the times, or in bad taste.

1. Using the wrong image sizes for your platform.

This one’s pretty basic, but it’s still remarkably frustrating: social media platforms use different image specs for their posts. If you use the same size across every platform, some will end up looking either cropped or strangely distorted, and either way makes you look bad.

Most commonly this happens if a brand is using a scheduling tool for their social posts. They make one post and schedule it to go out to multiple platforms, but don’t account for the various image sizes. Don’t do this. It’s a rookie mistake.

2. Failing to engage with your followers.

No one likes the kind of person who does all the talking and none of the listening. You don’t want to be that person, right? We thought so. So why would you be that person on social media?

On social media, posting is the easy part. Following up? Not so much. You may not need to have someone dedicated to manning the helm at all times, but you do need to have someone whose responsibility it is to keep track of comments and be ready to reply. This is especially true for negative comments, which can make your brand look bad if you don’t reply to them.

Which leads us to the next point…

3. Deleting negative comments.

No one likes to see bad things said about them publicly, but if you’re a brand with a social media channel, it’s more than likely to happen some time. The temptation is to delete the post, but doing so can look suspicious—much like a product with all five-star reviews.

Instead, view this as an opportunity to show how you can respond graciously to a negative comment. Thank the commenter for their feedback, ask if there’s any way you can resolve the issue, and then move the matter to private email as quickly as possible so that further discussion happens away from public scrutiny. The only time you should actually delete a bad post is if it becomes abusive.

4. Refusing to put money behind your campaigns.

For many businesses, social media seems like free advertising. They put out post after post focusing on sales promos and wonder why they don’t draw any traffic.

Well for one, the only people seeing those posts are your followers or people who have come directly to your social media page. And even if someone is following you, they may not want you to advertise to them all the time. Instead, reach a wider audience by putting some ad dollars behind your campaigns. You’ll draw in more visitors, and maybe even gain some followers.

5. Spamming followers with automated sales pitches.

This one is the bane of Twitter. How many times have you followed someone only to instantly receive a DM sales pitch? It’s the worst. I can’t think of a tackier social media marketing ploy, and yet it’s so common that it’s unavoidable.

Maybe it works. But then, so do a lot of other shady sales tactics that do nothing more than give a brand a bad reputation. So do yourself and everyone else a favor and stop now.

6. Leaving links out of your posts.

One of my favorite online stores used to drive me crazy by posting images of products and including the product number, but not a link to the product page. This was really frustrating, because posting a link was so obvious it seemed like a no-brainer.

And yet, this bad practice is more common than you’d think. If you’re sharing a blog post, promoting a product, or publicizing an event, include links. You can even create unique short links for each post to help track where your traffic comes from and measure the success of your various social campaigns.

7. Jumping on the wrong bandwagon.

Every now and then brands, in their eagerness to be trendy, will chase after the wrong audience. The effect is for them to appear superficial, as if they’re trying too hard to hang with the cool kids.

Now, if you have a trendy brand, that’s fine. Even better, is if you can land a really topical post at just the right moment. But remember that this is icing on the cake: your goal is to create a solid social profile that engages your core audience and promotes your brand. Anything more is a nice bonus.

Social media is designed to be social, so don’t forget to have fun with it.

Some of the most successful social media accounts of recent years have been very tongue-and-cheek with their audiences. They’ve dropped the corporate façade and gained some points by presenting a more approachable front. While humor can sometimes backfire, more often than not, it’s a way to build rapport with your audience. And even those brands that have had an occasional misstep recover with relative ease.

So even though the Internet can be vast and sometimes volatile, your likelihood of going viral in a bad way is very low. Instead, focus on forming an authentic connection with your audience. That’s what they’re following you for.

Published 05/02/19 by Laura Lynch