Social Media Best Practices: 7 Blunders Your Brand Should Avoid

Social Media Best Practices: 7 Blunders Your Brand Should Avoid

By: Kate Newman

We’ve all heard the social media horror stories: From NSFW photos to hashtags gone haywire, there are more than a few ways 140 characters can blemish your brand.

The truth is, many common social media practices are ineffective at best, and damaging at worst. With such an abundance of “Top Tips” and “Best Practices” lists floating around the internet, it can be difficult to discern the truly valuable suggestions from the snake oil.

Even if we don’t end up on this year’s list of the “Top 10 Social Media Fails,” most of us are guilty of making simple mistakes at one point or another. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media presence, be careful to avoid these 7 social media blunders across your brand’s platforms:

1. Posting Just to Post

It’s important to post frequently (the number varies depending on platform), but it’s also important for posts to provide value for your followers.

Balanced content is better than lots of content. A safe bet is to follow the 80/20 rule—the majority of the content should be about others, while a small percentage can be self-promotional. Focusing on quality over quantity will also help you when it comes to copyediting: A paced, strategic posting schedule can help your brand avoid simple typos, like Twitter’s #bizzardof2015.

2. Forcing #Hashtags

Hashtags can be a great way to start or join a conversation on social media, but they aren’t the be-all-end-all that many brands make them out to be.

Use hashtags when they are genuinely relevant, but be wary of forcing trending hashtags. #Hashtag #after #hashtag not only looks clumsy and disjointed, but studies show that 17 percent of the top 1,000 search terms on Twitter don’t stay trending for more than an hour. Judicious use of hashtags also influences engagement—a report from Salesforce revealed that tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21 percent higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags.

But remember that some rules are made to be broken. If your brand can co-opt a trending hashtag in a fun, novel or valuable way—like the Salvation Army during #TheDress debacle—feel free to contribute to the conversation.

3. Jumping in on Current Events Without a Strategy

Along the same lines of #trending, a buzzworthy moment isn’t an excuse to abandon your brand identity.

If you decide to engage in an event, consider creating content in advance, like Adidas did during the World Cup. When it comes to serious events like tragedies or deaths, proceed with caution; do not use it as an opportunity to promote your brand and make sure your pre-scheduled tweets are sensitive to recent headlines. If you decide to contribute, make supportive statements, direct followers to resources to learn more or drive followers to a relevant charity to contribute.​

4. Blindly Using Visuals

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” should be your social media mantra. Visuals not only increase engagement rates, they can also offer insight into company culture for customers and candidates.

But “any image” is not better than “no image.” Visuals should be relevant to your brand, as well as up-to-date. It’s also crucial to attribute photos appropriately and make sure they are legal for commercial purposes—instead of grabbing copyrighted images from Google, check out these free stock photo sites.

5. Sweeping Comments Under the Rug

Feedback can be hard to swallow,​ but it’s important to consider negative comments as constructive criticism.

Do not delete negative feedback—instead, respond as quickly as possible to appropriate complaints. Responding carefully to negative comments is one of the best ways to create advocates for your brand.

6. Forgetting to Recycle (Your Content)

Don’t let good content go to waste! Marketing expert Guy Kawasaki reposts the same content four times a day (with slight variations), eight hours apart, to reach a global audience.

You should also consider repurposing content to increase exposure and lighten your creative load—a blog series can become an eBook, an infographic can become a Youtube video, an article can become a Slideshare, etc.

7. Buying Your Friends

When you’re the new kid on the block, buying followers can be tempting—but it’s much better to take the high road when it comes to building an audience.

Having a high number of fake followers in your fan base can make your brand appear dishonest, and robots or spam accounts that don’t engage with you are effectively worthless. Instead, focus your resources on targeted paid campaigns to reach relevant followers in order to build a dedicated audience.

Long story short, social media is at once an incredible tool for engaging with your followers, and an easy way to turn them off. By following the above guidelines, you can stay clear of social media mishaps, keeping your brand name “flawless” and your audience happy.

Enjoyed this post? Be on the lookout for more advice in our new “Social Media Best Practices” series!

Image c/o

  • David
    Posted at 11:20h, 12 March

    Completely agree with the mistakes you have mentioned above.

    These are the most common social media mistakes which people make. Social medias are the 2nd best places in drive potential customers and readers after search engines.

    Along with these mistakes, not providing regular updates are also a common mistake as I think. I have seen so many brands on Facebook who never takes care of their audience and that’s why they don’t have engagement.

    People always want entertainment or something which can keep themeselves busy and If any brand isn’t providing such type of content then there might be the higher chances that the audience will forget the name of their brand.

    So to keep their name in their audience mind, they must have to provide such content which can help, entertain and keep their audience busy.

    I am glad that you have mentioned these major social media mistakes. So Thanks for sharing it with us. 😀