If you are unknowingly utilising bad social media techniques as part of your strategy, you might as well not bother. One cowboy tactic can ruin everything.
Sometimes all it takes to elevate a social media campaign from great to magnificent is one teeny strategy addition. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the opposite. Make one erroneous strategy addition, no matter how teeny it is, and your results can plummet.
One thing in particular has made identifying bad social media practices a much harder process than it needs to be; Marketing.
A fairly scathing statement now I look at it written it down, and an ironic one to boot. But true because often these practices are better marketed than best-practice strategies. Why? Well, they can make guarantees about vanity numbers simply because they use underhanded methods; case and point, buying followers. Genuine services have to work on projections justified by the strategies they create, and by previous results from similar strategies.
Why we all stumble into bad social media techniques
There are so many things you can work to achieve on social media, and so many ways you could potential achieve those things. Building social media marketing takes time and a great deal of A/B testing. At some point, we are all going to try something that turns out to be a bad idea in the long-run. The greatest of these being, y’know, giving it up all together.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some strategies are downright boring to work on but get the job done perfectly well. These can often result in apathy - and from that place of despondency we can stumble into bad social media practices too. The greatest of these again being, y’know, giving it up all together.
On that note, here are some bad social media techniques that you’d do well to avoid:
1. Using a curation tool for personalised shortlinks
Some content curation tools, in particular the ones that use sales buzzwords to market themselves, allow you to add your own call to action banner to a piece of content via a personalised shortlink on Twitter. Any content writer who has had their work curated this way (ahem) will tell you that it is dishonest and frustrating.
These apps, such as MarketHub.io, effectively create a duplicate version of your page with somebody else’s call to action (often with the words free webinar included) slapped across it. In many cases, this call to action doesn’t disappear when internal links are clicked. This is misleading, making visitors think that the brand or person on the CTA is affiliated with the website or content.
These are the kind of bad social media techniques that not only harm your own brand, but even worst, can effectively destroy the hard work of another innocent content marketer.
2. Buying followers
If I hadn’t already made it perfectly clear, buying followers is the thing that you should never, ever do. These are nothing but empty numbers; bots and fake accounts that reduce your reach and flag your pages as spam. I’ve gone into this in full and complete detail in my previous article ‘Why you should never, under any circumstances, buy followers’.
3. Using vanity hashtags
I’ve gone into this previously in my article “Why popular hashtags are ruining your strategy”. I’m not totally convinced that vanity hashtags is a recognised term, but it should be. What I’m referring to is using hashtags that exist primarily because they rhyme or roll off the tongue nicely; case and point, #mondaymotivation.
Social media managers and marketers often end up including these hashtags in their posting strategy because they are relevant; which is fine. But when they are engaged with for no reason but numbers, they simply end up marketing to other marketers who are just looking for numbers.
4. Using auto-DMS on Twitter
I’ve made it perfectly clear in the past that automated Twitter messages are the single most annoying and pointless technique ever to darken the doors of social media marketing. These are often sent via following/un-following software/apps that are standard sales pitches. They have effectively made direct messaging on Twitter utterly redundant for anybody who ever wanted to use it for, I don’t know, direct messaging other users.
5. Spending all your resources on so-called “viral” content
Ah, “viral”. Many an MDs favourite term and one that, when heard, makes social media managers shudder. This idea that you can somehow create social media content that is so mind-bogglingly good, so shareable, that the process of merely posting it on your wall will mean that the whole internet will leap on it is totally nonsensical.
I’m not saying that things don’t go viral, that would be a fallacy. However, the idea that you can fabricate virality (not a real term) is. Things go viral when the planets align - the most we can do is create awesome content and ensure it is fastidiously distributed/promoted to the right people.
Constantly piling all your resources into content creation is not a sustainable strategy. You need to be interacting with real people consistently, always conducting network analysis and tweaking your strategy as needed, posting daily in order to make sure your message is getting across.
6. Not giving your strategy the time of day
This is a point that I cannot stress enough. The best social media marketing strategies are built, sustained and made-whole by analytical data. When you start a social media marketing strategy you need to be persistent with it. That way you can see what is working, what isn’t working, and where you perhaps need to redistribute your investment.
Social media isn’t a sales channel. However, many professionals are sales minded. If that’s you, turn your eyes away from your bottom line because unless we are talking about social PPC, it isn’t advertising. Instead, conduct a little social listening - see how much people are talking about your brand now.
7. Thinking social media is the only thing that needs work
If you are building an engaged, relevant audience, and traffic from social networks to your sites is high but those leads aren’t converting into sales, the issue is likely to be somewhere else. You need to have one clear brand message across all of your channels - your website, web content, email, outbound, inbound, Homeward Bound, ALL of those buzzwords.
One final, happier note
Instagress, the spammy auto-comment/follow-unfollow bot service for Instagram, has been closed. So at least that’s one less bad social media practice that we don’t have to worry about.
And you can use relevant hashtags without getting hundreds of bots telling you that your picture of your lunch is “WOW! Inspiring! 😍”.