The Don’ts of Social Media Marketing

Social media has been around for the better part of two decades. And even though there are entire companies dedicated to social media marketing and a near endless selection of online courses, we still see social media platforms riddled with poor practices.

Sometimes we see bad posts because they are forced on our timelines and feeds through paid advertisements. Other times we see them because they’re posted by accounts we follow (but guarantee, we won’t be following them for long).  

Some content just doesn’t make sense: They grasp to target broad categories like “Indie Films” or “Fashion” without taking the extra time and effort into truly targeting their audience. And then there are instances that lack “social media etiquette.”

We’re going to go over some general things that, as a company or individual marketing yourself on social media, you should not do when it comes to social media marketing, but we will also get into the big “don’t” for some of the main social media platforms.

General Social Media Marketing Don’ts

Companies and individuals are guilty of consistently making the same mistakes when it comes to social media marketing. And it just shows that they are either ignorant to best practices or just do not care. If you’re going to post on social media, keep the following in mind:

Don’t think “one size fits all.” All social media networks have their own parameters for images and videos. What you create for one social platform is not going to work for another. On Facebook, a shared image is 1,200 x 630 pixels. On Twitter, it’s 440 x 220 pixels. And these vary for every type of content (think cover photo to profile picture). It just looks bad if you use the same size for everything

Don’t think “one and done.” Similarly, don’t think you can take one image and write one caption and put it on all your social media platforms. Yawn. That’s lazy social media, and if you have fans that follow you on multiple platforms, they’ll notice. Plus, not all platforms lend themselves well to the same type of content. We know it can be difficult at times to think of fresh, engaging content for multiple platforms and to post multiple times a day, but that’s the challenge of social media marketing.

Don’t quote without attribution. If you’re going to quote someone, the best thing to do is to cite them. It isn’t just about being polite and professional (which you should always strive to be), but it allows them to be able to respond to you and continue the dialogue.

Don’t fail to engage with your audience. Your audience follows you for a reason. Maybe they love your products or view you as a positive role model. You could post things that are funny or help them escape from the monotony of life. And if you make money because of your large following, you need to reciprocate. It’s important to engage with your followers and respond to their comments and questions as best as you can. It’s not always possible, but even a “heart” or a “like” can go a long way in showing your audience that you care.

The Don’t of Facebook

While this “don’t” can apply to all of the social media platforms, it is most often seen on Facebook:

Don’t create a skeleton page. A lot of businesses will create a Facebook page and then never post on it. Or they will post for a while and then suddenly disappear. It makes sense that small businesses do not have the time or resources to create content, but some effort should be put into it. Especially when many people research businesses on Facebook, it’s important to not have just a profile but a presence.

The Don’t of Twitter

With over 330 million active users worldwide, Twitter sees a lot of activity. And while it’s used as a platform as a global discussion for natural disasters (like hurricanes, monsoons, and tornadoes), events (in America, the Superbowl; in England, the birth of a royal baby), and other topics of interesting (such as bands getting back together or releasing new songs). It’s a great platform of discussion for both companies and individuals. But here are some definite don’ts when it comes to the platform.

Don’t Have a Q&A Without the Dialogue. We know that Twitter is a great place for dialogue. We see brands holding discussions regularly. But it’s rude to start a discussion, get replies, and essentially ghost your responders. (Can you imagine someone asking you a question, you answering them, and them getting up and walking away? It’s the same thing.)

If you’re going to start a discussion with your followers, you need to be sure that you are attentive to your mentions so that you can see who has answered you and respond to them in turn. You’re missing out on the opportunity of engaging them—which is the whole point of starting a discussion in the first place.

If you continue to attempt to start a discussion but fail to respond, your audience will no longer respond in turn.

The Don’ts of Instagram

Instagram is all about being visually appealing. The photo is what will engage them, but the entirety of your content will make them stay.

Don’t post without a caption. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But it’s still always a good idea to give your audience an insight behind the photo. Where was it taken? What is the significance to them? You still need to provide your photos with some context.

Don’t use a bunch of hashtags. Hashtags are great for categorizing your photos and helping others find your content. But you don’t want to go overboard with the hashtags, creating a large paragraph that overshadows your caption. At most, pick no more than 10 hashtags for each post. And these hashtags should be relevant to your content. You don’t want to use vague or broad hashtags (like #love or #awesome), and you don’t want to use popular hashtags that have nothing to do with your content, hoping that it will get you more followers (Hint: It won’t.)

The Don’ts of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to find a job, expand your network, and share insightful pieces.

Don’t send a cold “InMail.” Whether you’re looking for a job or looking to sell something, the last thing you want to do is send a cold InMail. That’s where you send someone a connection and, as soon as they accept it, you send them an InMail searching for a job or asking them to buy something from you. It’s the cyberspace version of door-to-door sales.

The proper thing to do is to get to know someone. Comment on their posts and offer insight or ask them for their opinion on something. You need to develop some type of a relationship—you’re more likely to sell that way, anyway.

Don’t Treat LinkedIn likes it’s _____________. There are a lot of LinkedIn users who have vocalized their frustration with other users treating LinkedIn like it’s Facebook (or any other social media platform). When you visit, the first image you’re greeted with is a graphic of diverse individuals in an office setting with text that reads, “Welcome to your professional community” (shown below).

That’s what LinkedIn is: An online community for professionals. It is not a place to discuss the latest episode of a hit TV show, nor it is the place to ask for restaurant recommendations or share your child’s first big milestones. It’s a place to connect with other professionals, find mentors, look for jobs, and seek out professional development and networking opportunities.

What to Do?

There is a lot going on in terms of social media. Every second, 6,000 tweets are published to Twitter. Each day, over 95 million photos and videos are posted to Instagram. And throughout the world, 1.47 billion individuals log in to Facebook each day.

How do we secure and keep the audiences that eventually become customers? It’s by following best practices and creating content that they crave. And it’s by mindfully avoiding all the “don’ts” (and then some) listed above.

One of the easiest ways to make sure that you are always posting fresh content that will engage your audience is by creating a content calendar. Planning your posts ahead of time means you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to think of something to post. Instead, you’ll have it ready to go. Some platforms also offer scheduled posts, or there are third-party companies that offer such services, so it’s even less work on your part in terms of remembering when and what to post.

But whatever you do on social media, remember one thing: Don’t just post for the sake of posting (Your brand should serve as your content inspiration!).