10 annoying social media behaviors

Want to drive away fans and followers? Just do everything on this list—or just a few things. They’ll flee in droves.


What’s worse than being the most annoying guy in the room? Not realizing it—and that’s as true online as it is off.

In fact, 65 percent of consumers say they will stop buying from a company that irritates them online. Does that include you? Are you annoying? Do you frustrate your fans? How can you know?

To help answer those questions, here are 10 of the most annoying online activities. Avoid these mistakes to keep your audience from running the other way.

1. Follow just to be followed

Follow me if you want to, but don’t follow me just so I follow you. Think I can’t tell you’re doing it? When I receive repeated notifications that you’re following me, I get the message—you’re using one of those tools that auto-follows users until they follow back. Well, I’ve got news for you: Now I’m never following you! A wiser move would have been to look for ways to genuinely engage the people you want to notice you—retweet them, respond to them, comment on their content.

2. Talk, talk, talk—but never listen

I don’t have to follow you long to realize you’re only interested in yourself. Your updates are about only your products, you ignore those who @reply you, and you ask for retweets but never retweet anyone else. This doesn’t build connections; it ostracizes you from your followers.

3. Take, take, take—but never give

Along with talking too much, annoying social media users take too much. How often are you asking me to do something for you? Compare that with how often you’re giving something of value, be it content or support or something else. If the scales are tipped too far to your side, don’t be surprised when I click away.

4. Speak in steady superlatives

Look, I get it. You want me to buy your product or follow your brand—but before you go bragging about how it’s the “best” this or the “greatest” that, make sure you have some proof to back up your claims. When you’re constantly sounding off in exaggerations, you come across as untruthful, and then when you tell me something that’s actually true, I’ll have a hard time believing you.

5. Never be original

It may be a Tumblr world, but that doesn’t mean that taking other people’s content is acceptable. Constantly posting the work of someone else, from photography to written content to video, gets old, even if you link to the original source. What’s more, if you “borrow” someone’s content without asking, you run the risk of doing more than irritating—you’ll make that artist angry.

6. Show no personality

Social media is about connection. Don’t use a bland logo or ugly gravatar to identify your brand online. Don’t write about the same topic in a detached, impersonal way. Instead, inject some life into your online image—let us see some personality!

7. Be a broken record

Posting updates every 15 minutes is not cool; it is annoying, like a nonstop, loud, broken record. So think in terms of quality, not quantity. Focus on sharing information that is legitimately valuable to other people.

8. Introduce yourself-to request a favor

Sure, social media thrives on reciprocal sharing and linking and promotion, but that doesn’t give you the right to demand it. When you send your first introductory email to me asking that I promote your brand, you’re basically saying you just want to use me. Nobody likes that.

9. Auto-respond

Here’s the problem with automatic—it’s the opposite of personal. Sending every follower an auto-response doesn’t make you seem friendly; it makes you seem preoccupied.

10. Confuse me

Your updates always reflect some inside joke with some user I don’t know. When you respond to someone’s specific question with only a “No,” I’m left wondering what you’re talking about. You’d do better to give some context in your response, letting the rest of us feel that we know what’s going on.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, social media solutions, Web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.

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