What Not to Do on Social Media

When it comes to boosting exposure and engagement, there’s a lot you should do with your social media accounts: post great content, post frequently, engage with others, share others’ information more than your own, etc. We’ve shared a lot of advice about these things (here and here)! But what about the things you shouldn’t do? How many posts per day or week is too much? How many times is content considered viable and not just recycled for posting’s sake? If you’re new to social media or you just need a refresher on what not to do when you’re surfing the social media waves, don’t worry. We’ve got the answers to your social media etiquette questions.

1. Don’t spam

No one likes spam. It clogs our email accounts, finds its way into our text inboxes, and sometimes even sneaks into our Facebook notifications. Some of the spam we get comes from services we use or businesses we patronize. But even from trusted sources, too much of a good thing is still too much. In the social media world, when someone reaches out and likes your page or follows you, they expect to receive occasional updates, contests, or other posts. Create a social media calendar that details what you’ll post, when you’ll post it, and how many times you’ll post it to each social media platform per day. Spamming people is one way you’re sure to get unliked and unfollowed.

2. Don’t overrecycle

Recycling—in all arenas—is a good thing. And we’re encouraged to recycle content in social media—but, as with all good things, we need to do it in moderation. You wouldn’t want to recycle your posts so often your feed feels like a series of reruns. Like a good television show, it’s fun to rewatch, but viewers are always itching for new developments. So unless the series has ended (which is akin to closing shop), don’t play reruns. The best time for recycling content is when you want to share your best content with new audiences or when you want to boost a post to get new followers or likes. Additionally, be sure the content you recycle is evergreen—meaning it’s still applicable to your readers.

3. Don’t ramble on and on and on

This applies to creating the content itself. With the veritable flood of information available on the Internet these days, you’re competing with everything else every other person or business is posting. Make sure your posts are engaging, informative, and easy to read. Once you’ve come up with a catchy headline, make sure you get right to the point and, if you do go off track, always circle back to the topic at hand. Ramble too much and chances are you’ll leave your readers feeling confused and ready to ramble away from you (which equals unliked and unfollowed for you).

4. Don’t make your posts too text heavy

No one wants to slog through lengthy, text-heavy posts. Don’t write novellas. Make sure you hold your readers’ attention by keeping things concise and visually appealing. Even when your content is dynamite, keep it short and sweet, or you’ll lose readers (and even followers if long posts become a habit!). Better to have a series of short posts over a few days on the same topic than one huge post people will pass up. Also, use eye-catching photos and graphics and numbered lists or bullet points to break up text. (Take a look at our tips for creating great content here.)

5. Don’t overhashtag

Hashtags are a great way to increase your audience. When you hashtag, you’re grouping your post with other posts that have the same hashtags (#amwriting, #marketing, #TBT), so anyone searching for information via a hashtag (they’re hyperlinked by the platform’s code) can find your post in the group. Hashtags got their start on Twitter back in 2007, but have become increasingly popular across all social media platforms. On a similar note: #longhashtagsaretoohardtoreadsodontdowritelonghashtags.

6. Don’t tag without permission

We’re not still talking hashtags—we’re talking tagging, which is linking to someone else’s profile to your post without their permission. The social media experience is about connecting with others, but tagging someone without permission is akin to barging into their home. When you tag someone, your post could show up on their profile and timeline, and it’s possible they don’t want it to be there. Always ask first—you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you do.

7. Don’t buy followers

You’ll find all sorts of ads and profiles offering to sell you thousands of followers for one low price. Thing is, these followers aren’t real. They are “bot” or “zombie” profiles. While it’s true accounts that have more followers are more likely to be followed (you following me still?), you only gain more followers if you have a stellar social media plan. And, really, you want real followers who will turn into leads, not fake profiles that only inflate your follower account. When you buy followers, you’ve spent money on something you’ll never get a return on. Better to get one true follower who turns into a lifelong client than thousands who will never count in your social media ROI.

There have got to be other social media no-no’s out there. What are some you’re familiar with? Share them with our readers by commenting below!

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About Lindsay Flanagan

Lindsay Flanagan is a senior editor and project and social media manager at Eschler Editing. She earned her Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and spent over a decade working in higher education before joining the Eschler team. She and her husband are the proud parents of two brilliant daughters and make their home in Heber, Utah.