While we prefer positive reinforcement, it can be helpful to know what not to do to make sure you’re not scaring off potential followers and leads unnecessarily. Changing a few social behaviors and avoiding minor faux pas could make all the difference in creating a social presence that is magnetic, rather than repelling.

Bad Social Media Practices

1. Linking accounts in such a way that the content feels automated or untailored for the platform

Seeing a feed full of content that has been auto-shared from another account makes the follower think, “If I wanted to see all their Facebook posts, I would just follow them on Facebook.”

It’s okay to link them in a way that makes your life easier, and it’s possible that your Twitter followers are interested in a post you just shared to Facebook. Many believe otherwise, but for some brands, it works. The key is to make sure there is a mix of native content.

When you see a tweet that’s been shared from another platform, a flag goes off in your “e-brain,” and it recognizes it almost as a different language. If it doesn’t frustrate the follower enough to “unfollow” you, at the very least, it might make them quickly scroll past, and that’s definitely not the impact you want your content to have.

Instead, spend the extra time to post (or schedule the post) natively. If you just posted to Facebook a photo and a link to an article, take the time to post it natively to Twitter so Twitter followers can easily access both the photo and the link. Sure, your followers can click through to Facebook to view the mystery photo you’ve just posted, but it’s unlikely. Scrolling through a feed should be seamless and shouldn’t necessitate visiting another social platform.

A super simple way to have your cake and eat it too, i.e. automate posts and still have the assets appear/embed natively, is to use “recipes” on IFTTT. This recipe to “post Instagram pics on Twitter as a picture (not a link)” is a great example of how you can make your Twitter feed more engaging. Instead of posting the link to the Instagram photo (which is what happens when you use Instagram’s native “share to Facebook” feature), the photo actually displays in your Twitter feed. There are all kinds of recipes on IFTTT that can streamline your social efforts. Search for the relationship you’re looking to create; there are often a variety of relevant recipes that have already been created.

2. Retweeting or sharing a link with no commentary or context

A bare bones retweet has its place, but brands that overdo it on the retweets and consistently neglect to add their own thoughts are missing the point of Twitter. Reciprocation and building a feed with a variety of voices is essential, but Twitter is a place to build your own identity and start conversation using your own comments.

The “add a comment” retweet feature is one of those things that makes me wonder how we ever managed without it. Before (up until just a few months ago), there were all sorts of workarounds and acronyms. RIP to the “PRT” or “Partial Retweet,” a tweet you had to manually condense in order to squeeze in a brief comment at the beginning. Now, you can comment with your own message (up to 116 characters) and still have the original tweet display in its entirety. Hooray for 256 characters!

This becomes especially handy during tweet chats, when conversations are moving a mile a minute and adding to one another’s thoughts is the norm.

The same approach goes for Facebook. I often see small businesses share a link without their own commentary, allowing their followers to infer why they are sharing it. Most likely, the sentiment is simply “Here’s a link you may find interesting. We did.” Perhaps the simplicity is what deters businesses from making such a comment. But going into why you think the audience will find it helpful will do a lot to engage your audience.

3. Losing sight of the voice your customers know and love

This can get tricky when there are multiple people managing a brand’s social accounts, and even trickier if the social team is part of an agency and not in-house. As someone who’s worked on social accounts from the agency perspective for some time now, I’m not at all of the belief that in-house is better. I think marketing agency professionals excel at managing social because of the relative distance they have from the brand. It just takes finesse and communication among departments to nail the voice.

A good example is when I began managing social for a brand that had found a sweet spot on Instagram by sharing ultra cool, stylish photography featuring their products. When I first stepped in, I put my social media hat on and began posting photos with longer captions that told more of the story behind the product and posing questions, hoping to create more engagement, the cornerstone of social media marketing. What I found, however, was that these posts stuck out. The audience and demographic had become accustomed to the clean, spare captions that let the photography shine. I realized I had to adjust my tone and give the followers the natural-sounding copy they related to.

The key to achieving this balance is to be sensitive to the brand’s ethos and persona. What does the brand’s voice sound like? Like, really. Come up with a list of adjectives that describe the brand, as if it were a person. Is it approachable, occasionally humorous, and clever? Or is it sophisticated, minimal, and stylish? Doing an exercise like this from the outset can do a lot to establish what you say and how you say it.

Additionally, pay attention to which “big” brands the brand can relate and aspire to. While you’d never want to copy someone else’s voice, it can be helpful to be cognizant of brands who are executing a strong sense of voice.

4. Dropping the ball on engaging with your customers

This goes under the category of “So Paramount It’s Obvious, But Somehow We Still Sometimes Drop the Ball.” Between creating the content, focusing on reaching your target, and posting on multiple platforms, it’s surprisingly easy to post and then be onto the next and never look back. But, if a follower takes the time to make an action on your social media content, then they’re invested and interested. It’s so important to monitor your posts and respond in a timely manner.

Now, this can sound like ceaseless monitoring around the clock. I recently listened to a podcast that interviewed Jay Papasan, author of The One Thing, the book about eliminating distractions and concentrating on “the one thing” that will lead to your success. Papasan asserts that multitasking is a terrible approach to workflow, as each task ultimately suffers from your divided attention. So, when it comes to monitoring your social media comments, avoid the constant switching of gears to check in. Instead, schedule three check-ins a day, so you can devote your undivided attention to engagement, and eliminate the temptation to check and refresh the page the rest of the day.

5. Worrying too much about any one thing

This might seem vague, but worrying about any one thing will just drive you nuts when it comes to social media. Be vigilant and monitor analytics, of course. But getting caught up on any one element of social media is missing the point of social media, which is that there are a lot of components in play and, more importantly, what’s most important is to create compelling content.

So, worrying too much about factors like when is the optimal time to post (there are vague rules, but people are online at all sorts of times) will just expend unnecessary energy and distract you from the fun and creativity of social media, which is the kind of content that usually gets the best response anyway.

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