Five Social Media Don’ts

Photo courtesy of Muffet

Photo courtesy of Muffet

There are numerous social media no-nos being commited daily by people and organizations that should know better. Here are five mistakes I’ve been seeing frequently as of late.

1. Tweeting links to content users can’t access: The Boston Globe is a good example of this. They have enforced their paywall even for the content they promote via Twitter (which means they don’t really want you to read–they only want you to subscribe).  So users click on tweets only to be taken to a message (sometimes with a short summary of the article, sometimes not) that basically tells them to subscribe. This is  a bait and switch, and a social media FAIL. (It also needlessly costs the Globe retweets and favorites.) The Globe should look to the example of  The New York Times. When the Times promotes an article via Twitter, any of their followers can read it, whether they are subscribers or not. You can’t click around and read everything after you come to their site via social, but you can read the article that they have promoted, which is how it should be! If you for some reason absolutely must tweet subscribers-only content, at least have the courtesy to warn your followers in your tweet that the link is restricted.

2. Asking for retweets. The begging for retweets has got to stop. Kellogg’s UK recently tweeted the worst kind of retweet request–one that seemed to use vulnerable people as a cause for brand promotion. But aside from that example, I see people begging others to retweet them (“Like it? Please RT!”) on every single tweet. The thing is, studies have shown that asking for retweets works. So it’s tempting. But it’s a trick that I suspect wears off, as users tire of your begging and eventually stop heeding your every demand to retweet. I follow a few business folks on Twitter who ask for a RT on every single tweet. I’m so tired of seeing it that I don’t even consider RTing them. If your content is good, followers WILL retweet. Let your work speak for itself.

3. Sharing information without checking its accuracy first. Facebook users, I’m looking at you (although other social media users are not immune). I have seen the same articles circulate on Facebook for months and years, and people mindlessly share without checking to see if they are sharing misinformation. The perfect example? This charity post that you see this time every year. It tells you not to give to Unicef, United Way, Red Cross, etc. *Some* of the information is correct, but *most* of it is not. A quick fact check is all you need. (Snopes, as shown in the previous link, is always a good start, as they’ve been investigating and collecting these posts since 1995)  Take this extra step to ensure you don’t a) share misinformation or b) make yourself look foolish.

4. Not proofreading your content, especially on LinkedIn. I belong to several groups on LinkedIn, and I can’t tell you how many times people post to groups and to their profiles without checking their spelling and grammar. And there is simply no excuse for a poorly written summary on your LinkedIn profile! Remember that potential employers are on LinkedIn, and you should always review your content with that in mind before you post.

5. Posting ridiculously long videos and podcasts. I’ve noticed that some of the so-called professional videos on YouTube and podcasts on iTunes clearly were done without any outlines, script, or rehearsals.  It’s fine to have an hour-long podcast if the content is compelling, but if your audience is watching or listening to a lot of “ums” or “what do I want to talk about next?”, you are wasting their time and you may very well lose followers and subscribers. Before you share your multimedia content with the world, think it through. What is your main point? What are the most important pieces of information that you want your audience to take away from your content? Write a script or, if that feels like overkill, make an outline of what you would like to cover. Be concise, clear, and ask yourself, is this a podcast or video I would want to listen to or watch?

For more social media tips, download our ebook, The Little Book of Social Media,  or get the Kindle version.

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