12 annoying social media practices

From random Facebook invites to auto direct messages, the author shares the social media habits that grate.


As a social media professional I have seen a lot of annoying things.

Most of the time I believe people do them because they don’t know better or have seen others do it, rather than out of a desire to be annoying or ineffective with their social media marketing. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know.

I tend to be more patient than others and thought a list of some of these annoying practices would be helpful. The intent is not to tell you what you can or cannot do within social media (that’s up to you), but rather to highlight some things you should consider changing to be more effective.

They are listed in no particular order of annoyance.

1. TruTwit validation

This is one that seems to annoy a lot of people, including me. Social media marketing is about relationships. Just as in real life, most relationships don’t work out too well when one person begins by distrusting or assuming the other is fake. What’s worse is a business starting out almost accusing a prospective customer. Drop TruTwit, and review bios and news feeds on Twitter to start relationships in the social graph on a good note.

2. Random Facebook event invites

Do I know you? Do you know me? Since I am a single dad in Oregon and, well, a bit older, why would you invite me to your rave party in New York City next week?

The Facebook event application can be powerful and effective when used properly. Mass-inviting non-targeted prospects that you have built no relationship with to your event is more than annoying. This kind of direct marketing in a social environment usually kills brands and, worse, gets you un-friended.

3. Random share requests

Before you start asking a Facebook friend or Twitter follower to share a post for you, be sure you have developed a relationship. Would you ask someone you met in line at Starbucks to email all of their friends your new blog post or website when you just met them? Would you call people you met once and never talked to again, asking them to put a sign for your business in their company lobby?

Of course not. You must first build a relationship, get to know them and provide value to them first. So, don’t do it in social media, either.

4. TeamFollowBack

Truth be told, this one gets me shaking my head more than others.

Why would anyone doing social media marketing want followers to follow them just because? We would never send a direct-mail campaign to a list of non-targeted people for our product or service. We would not hang out with someone we have nothing in common with. Followers and fans should be made up of a highly targeted community that you can provide value to and are most likely your prospective customers.

Quantity and quality are equally important.

5. Endless RTing

This is a companion to No. 4: endless, meaningless retweets. To constantly retweet a list of Twitter names over and over between each other and never engage, converse, or provide value to anyone is kind of like talking to yourself in the middle of the desert. Nobody is listening and, more important, nobody cares.

I don’t know about you, but my time is worth way too much to waste it doing anything that does not produce value for others, new relationships, or return on investment. Spend your social media marketing time wisely.

6. Ignoring shares/RTs

This never ceases to amaze me. If someone shares a post of yours or RTs something you posted on Twitter, for Pete’s sake, thank them. Start a conversation about the article. Build a relationship. When they shared your post to all of their friends, fans, or followers, they are saying to you, “What you posted was valuable and relevant.” Ignoring their gracious proliferation of you and/or your brand is like ignoring someone at a networking event that hands your business card to someone right in front of you.

7. Too late

Social media is digital. It happens at lightning speed. Don’t take days to respond to a comment or conversation attempt by a fan or follower. Make a commitment to your social media marketing and respond quickly.

I can’t have a relationship with you or your brand when you respond days after I ask you a question. Use your smartphone and social media management applications to ensure you stay on top of conversations.

8. Fauxperts

Mind your bio information. Calling yourself a “Guru” or “Expert” is a huge turnoff to most. Let others define you as such, and stay clear of making yourself look like a fool. True experts do not become so because they give themselves the title. They become known as an expert because their experience, skill, and knowledge in a specific space are noted by other respected people.

9. Know it all

I have found that a large number of social media marketers, consultants, and firms seem to think it is their job to tell others what to do. I have seen them attack people because they used an automated direct message, posted something about their own company, or any number of other normal newbie things people do.

Aside from outright spam, no “rule” within the social media world is hard and fast. People are free to use the medium the way they see fit. You can unfollow or unfriend people at any time. It is not your job or right to hammer people for any reason. Lead, follow, or get out of other people’s way.

10. Over-pitching

A typical challenge that newcomers and direct marketers have with social media marketing is understanding that it has less to do with you and your brand and more to do with the individuals that join your community.

Providing selfless value to your community instead of direct and constant marketing pitches about what you do will go a long way to building better relationships.

Ever been to coffee with someone talked about him- or herself the entire time? I think you are getting the point.

11. Daily ‘papers’

Annoying might be a bit strong when describing the Twitter Daily Newspaper posts. You know, the repeated posts saying one of your follower’s dailies is out and which other followers are featured in it. Don’t get me wrong, many of us appreciate the additional exposure our Twitter accounts and content receives due to these posts, but where is the conversation?

Automatically aggregating other people’s content to some Web page and automatically posting that you automatically did that doesn’t lead to conversation or relationships. Few of the posts that mention me this way lead to valuable conversations with those that use these services.

If you use them, take the extra step to start a meaningful conversation with the folks from whom you are automatically aggregating content. This should lead to relationships that result in mutual benefit.

12. Automated DMs

One of the things that seem to set people off in Nos. 8 and 9 are automated direct messages (DMs) on Twitter. They say DMs are not authentic and hammer anyone who uses them. I choose to find opportunity to engage and develop a relationship when they arrive.

The only caveat to my mostly agnostic view of the practice is when it pitches products and services. Especially when we just followed each other or have not had a conversation yet.

I suggest that if you are going to send an automated message to new followers, simply thank them and use it to start some kind of dialogue inside of your feed, rather than through direct message. Again, this builds valuable relationships that lead to ROI.

Any annoying behaviors you’d care to share?

Robert M. Caruso is the founder/CEO of Bundle Post and a long time technology, sales and marketing executive. He’s a father of two and passionate about tech and social media. A version of this story first appeared on the blog 12 Most.

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