The 7 new deadly sins of social media

Think you know the dos and don’ts? Guess again.

Two years ago, I wrote the original 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media. While many of those offenses continue to hold true, the landscape has changed considerably, and with it, our knowledge of each platform. Every good social strategy evolves with its audience (and brand!), so here are seven new sins social media managers struggle with now—and how to reset your course.


Just because something happens doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of it for your brand. There’s a difference between being clever and being annoying, and forcing the royal baby into your content schedule for the sake of a post is spammy, not clever. An example? The summer’s weirdest trend: Hot Dogs, or Legs? Brands that sell hot dogs jumped in, and that made sense because, well, they sell hot dogs. Brands selling outdoor gear, on the other hand? A less clear connection that looks like a desperate plea for engagement. The saying that any content is good content is false. Keep it grounded in your brand’s footprint.


The worst community management offense is arguably what I call “hit and run.” Different from the neglect I called out in 2011, abandonment happens when a post has been made by the brand, but then the brand drops re-engagement completely.

Social media is a vehicle for conversation, and if you fail to keep one going, you’ll also fail to be top of mind when consumers are offline. It’s all about creating positive feelings that will be a reference point for your brand when someone in the aisle reaches to pick up your product.


I’ve been fascinated with Facebook’s EdgeRank since it first surfaced. However, now brands post photos simply because they have a longer hang time in the news feed, not because they’re part of a tight content strategy. Stop the word searches and games, and post things that will inspire people.

Similarly, don’t ask people to vote on posts with likes or comments unless you plan to do something with those insights (like tailoring your content). How will that word search post of yours deepen consumer relationships? It won’t, so don’t.


Another offense committed regularly by social media managers? Forgetting to study the terms of service on each platform. Did you know that you can’t use Instagram photos in advertisements without consent? That you can’t ask Facebook users to share a post as part of a contest entry? Each platform is getting more stringent, and will suspend you if you’re not following their rules. Know what you’re doing so that all of your projects run smoothly.


Identifying a passion point for your audience is a powerful tool, but beating it to death ruins the point. Have followers who love football? Give them content that validates that passion in a myriad of ways. Simply switching the team you mention in the same post template won’t do it. Get creative with your content.

The Internet should inspire and influence the branded content you create. If you run out of steam, do more research about what your fans connect to. Remember to keep it on brand, or else you risk our first new sin.


It’s the feedback that content designers are too familiar with: make our logo bigger. However, plastering logos on every piece of content doesn’t emphasize your trendsetting social brand; it makes you look like a personified advertisement. There’s a time and a place for your logo to go on content (e. g., if you post to a third party site where others will share directly from there, not you).

What about adding your logo to half of an image on your Instagram feed? Not going to work. As a consumer, I don’t want to feel like I’ll be spamming my friends by sharing your content. Let the cool factor lead here. Giving your audience a way to look smart to theirs requires subtlety, but rewards you.


Each platform has different strengths and weaknesses. Twitter is the go-to for second-screen activity, and Facebook allows for the most data capturing when you run a sweepstakes. Instagram video and Vine video have different qualities. Failing to use each platform uniquely to create a harmonized social strategy will bore your audience and cause them switch loyalties.

Don’t cross-post the same thing every time; look at how you can make the most impact. Run competitive audits to see what utilities you can provide on each of your platforms that will change the way your brand’s industry interacts. Sure, it requires more work, but nothing worth having ever comes easily.

A version of this article first appeared on Social Media Today.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.