These 10 Social Media Sins Will Ruin You Forever

by David · 1 comment

You’re injecting soul and presence into your social media strategy. But what if one tweet could send you right back to where you started?

It’s unlikely that one tweet could do that. But there are sins which, guaranteed, will make you a social media outcast.

These are the 10 Soul-less Sins of social media.

The 10 Soulless Sins

1. Hiding Behind Corporate Jargon

As any commercial writer will tell you, business jargon has always been a no-no when writing any marketing materials or adverts. This is especially true on social media, which is a public conversation. Your followers expect you to be human, not sound like a corporate robot.

Avoid words and phrases such as leveraging, bleeding edge, tiger team, ramp up and at this juncture. No matter how cool you think they make you sound, they’re meaningless to your followers, and to most people they’ll make you sound like a moron.

(Need help spotting jargon? Check out this dictionary.)

2. Keeping Paid Tweets Hush Hush

Remember what we said in the past about affiliate links? We told you to be transparent because your readers can see through you anyway.

Are you paying people to tweet good things about your products or services? I’m totally okay with that, and you should be too.

What’s not okay is hiding the fact that you’re paying them.

If you’re paying a blogger or tweeter to tweet about your company, be open about that. You’ve got nothing to hide, and your followers will respect you more for being open. On the other hand, if you maintain a cover-up and it gets blown open, all respect your followers had for you will be blasted to pieces too.

3. Disrespecting Potential Customers

When you walk into any store in America and ask a salesperson a question, you expect to be treated respectfully, as a customer. You expect good pre-sales customer service, whether or not you buy anything.

The same is true on social media. Treat all your followers with respect, as valued customers, whether or not they’ve bought from you.

It’s tempting to divide your followers into prospects and customers. This is a useful divide for monitoring stats behind the scenes. But it’s a meaningless divide when you’re deciding where to direct your customer service energies.

Remember, the moment a person follows you on Twitter or Likes your Facebook Page, they’re your customer. Treat them like one.

4. Bitching Behind An Anonymous Avatar

On the Internet, you can be anyone you want to be. You can hide behind any username or avatar you choose. For some people, anonymity is liberating – they’re finally free to say what they really think. For businesses and business leaders, it’s a dangerous temptation.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, hid behind an anonymous username for seven years, and used it as an opportunity to big up Whole Foods and trash his rivals on Yahoo’s financial forums. He was unmasked in 2007, and was reprimanded in the media for throwing ethics out the window and failing to lead by example.

Tempted to vent anonymously about business issues online? Go let out your anger another way. Go for a run, or talk to a friend. If you give in to the temptation, you will get found out. What do you gain from it, other than a momentary sense of satisfaction at expressing your anger?

Likewise, giving glowing reviews of your company’s own products from behind an anonymous username is a recipe for a PR disaster. People read online reviews because they trust them. Exploit this trust, and your customers will go out of their way to avoid your products.

5. Getting Into Flame Wars

Diving into conversations and deep discussions on social media is great – that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. You should never be afraid of sharing your ideas and opinions, and stating them firmly and strongly, as long as you do so respectfully, and are willing to listen when people disagree with you.

Danger arises when a discussion riles up your temper, and you Tweet in a spirit of anger rather than mutual respect.

Post while angry, and you’re at risk of flaming or bashing: i.e. posting emotional messages or insults rather than sharing your opinion.

Flaming doesn’t only hurt the target of your insult fireball. It also burns your followers, and ultimately, you and your business.

6. Promises You Can’t Keep

You make promises with the best of intentions. You say you’ll help someone in your niche with their blog. You make claims about the features of your latest product line. You launch a special promotion.

Keep those promises.

Social media is all about authenticity. Your followers and fans are checking you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you’ll do.

Break promises online, and you’ll smash up one of your most important assets: a trusting relationship with your customers.

7. Saying One Thing, Doing Another

Like promises you fail to keep, saying one thing and doing another destroys trust.

On social media, this involves giving information and advice you fail to live by.

That’s like the climate change scientist who drives a gas-guzzling SUV. Or the moralistic preacher who elopes with the church organist.

Whenever you give advice online, first ask yourself: do I live by this?

In other words, have integrity. Don’t be a hypocrite.

8. Ignoring Customer Complaints

We live in the age of the irritated customer. Social media gives irritated customers a voice louder than they’ve ever had before. People use social media to complain about poor customer service, shoddy products and rude staff.

Every customer complaint is an opportunity for you to engage, and turn a customer’s negative experience of your company into a positive experience. If you can do this, many of those you help will become ambassadors of your company. When people complain, they like nothing more to know that’s someone’s listening.

Delta Air does a great job of this.

Europcar UK, not so much. Take a look at their Facebook page. They respond to every complaint, but the responses sound more like fobbing customers off than a genuine attempt to engage.

9. Automated Updates

I’m a big fan of scheduled tweets. I use them all the time, and they help me stay active on social media without devoting my life to Twitter.

Scheuling is different from automation. With scheduling, you write the tweet, and you set a time when it will go live.

With automation, a robot writes your tweets for you. You choose keywords or RSS feeds, and Mr. Robot auto-magically creates tweets on your behalf.

Sorry, but automation has no place in a soul-full social media strategy. Having soul means being present, and there is none of your presence in an automated update.

10. Being Afraid Of Mistakes

Social media is an ongoing experiment. You’ve learned through this article what you mustn’t do, but don’t let that hold you back. Be experimental and creative. Try out new ideas. Take risks. There are pioneers who have walked before you, but the gold rush is still on. Stake out your ground, and start panning.

David is Social Caffeine’s acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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