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6 Things We All Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Now

I love social media. I live social media! As in, I literally make a living off of it.

Working in social media means navigating some tricky waters. Contests that kill one time and flop the next, the all-too-familiar restraint of 140 characters, an angry Facebook comment popping up on the weekend when you’re already a few beers deep…

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There are always new mistakes to be made, fumbles to be fumbled, and don’ts to learn (the hard way).

But some social media lessons are learned the easy way. Say, from reading a blog post.

Here are six social media marketing don’ts that need to be kicked to the virtual curb.

1. Automated messages

Ever follow a person or company on Twitter, only to have a message arrive in your inbox one nanosecond later with a “Thanks for following!” and a nod to their website, Facebook page, blog or [insert self-promotional link here]?

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FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMATED GIFS, PLEASE STOP.

Automated messages are my #1 social media pet peeve and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone. Only that bet would be rigged, because I know I’m not.

Sorry automated messages, but nobody likes you.

I get that on paper, they seem like a great idea. Engage with your followers immediately! Show them your helpful content! Lead them to your website! Win-wins all around! Sure.

But you know what else sounded good on paper? QR codes.

In reality, automated messages come off as lazy, detached and out of touch.

While I’m sure there are people out there who swear that automated messages have grown their follower count or resulted in a lead, the risk of leaving such a bad taste in your followers’ mouths just isn’t worth it.

For every response you get, there are likely 50 other people like me who silently cringe and wonder when you’ll get the memo.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for social media, but one thing that remains constant is that genuineness wins when it comes to earning the trust of your community and building relationships with them.

And those canned, self-serving, abundantly-clear-there-is-no-real-person-sending-it messages are anything but genuine.

2. Over-hashtagging

Hashtags are synonymous with social media itself – they’re great for categorizing your posts, finding and jumping into conversations, giving your campaigns their own special theme, or inducing a slew of eye-rolling when used in offline conversation.

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But just as one realizes when reaching the bottom of a movie theater-sized package of Skittles, too much of a good thing can often be a bad thing.

Piling on the hashtags will either convolute the message you’re trying to get across or make it look like you’re desperately gunning for new followers instead of engaging with your current audience.

Most of the words people are hashtagging are so vague, they’re not doing much of anything for them anyway…

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When it comes to Twitter, try using no more than two hashtags per tweet. And be strategic about it.

Hashtag the most targeted keyword in your message or find ones that apply to it.

For instance, I’ll often slap #yvr onto any Vancouver-centric tweets from Unbounce’s account — and leave it at that.

3. Blanket publishing across all networks

Not to be confused with my arch-nemesis automated messaging, automated publishing – scheduling posts to be published at a later time – is the best and essential for anyone working in or with social media.

Automated publishing saves a ton of time, energy and gray hairs (shout-out to Buffer and Hootsuite for making my job that much easier).

That said, deploying one post across all networks is a recipe for this:

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I’m assuming the update above was triggered from Twitter to simultaneously post to LinkedIn (where I found it), which resulted in a strange “0 comments” image being pulled and the inclusion of a hashtag on a platform that doesn’t support them. Womp womp.

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If you’re sharing to your personal accounts, you may not care about formatting, but for businesses it’s important to optimize posts for where they’re going to be posted.

Each social network is its own beast with its own rules, and making sure your updates display properly puts you one step closer to more clicks and more engagement.

A vibrant image on Facebook or tagging the right people on Google Plus can make all the difference. Plus, it just shows that you give enough of a s@#$ to provide a more appealing experience for your audience. Thumbs up to giving a s@#$!

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4. Mishandling negative feedback

We’ve all been privy to the wonder that is the internet troll – the online equivalent of an angry Grandpa Simpson.

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This isn’t about them. Their problem isn’t you, it’s that their mother didn’t hug them enough. Or hugged them too much…

I’m talking about the not-so-nice comments, frustrated questions or criticisms from regular people that any business has to deal with.

Responding to negative feedback is tough, and it can even be a bit intimidating when dealing with an especially irate person.

It helps to remember that most people are reasonable and just want to be heard. A calm, prompt, and most of all, human response can go a long way.

What you don’t want to do is come off as apathetic, fake or defensive. I’d say any response is better than no response, but if you’re about to go all ape shizz on them you should probably hold off:

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The above example is admittedly extreme (most of us have enough common sense not to insult our customers).

But a response with even a hint of contempt or listlessness — or straight-up not responding at all — can do a lot of damage to your relationship with your customers and brand reputation.

Talk to people like they’re people and do what you can to address their problem, whether that means clearing it up yourself or putting them in touch with a team member who can. If you’re doing your best to understand where people are coming from and help them, that will come through.

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Pro tip: When in doubt, channel the spirit of Amy’s Baking Company and then do the opposite.

5. Not optimizing content for sharing

Curating content for Unbounce’s social community is a big part of my job. I visit a ton of different blogs each day, ready to share the good stuff with our audience. The funny thing is, a lot of blogs don’t seem to be ready for me.

When I’m ready to share an article, there are two things I don’t want to have to do:

  1. Search for sharing buttons
  2. Search for a Twitter handle

I know, I know — if these are my problems, then my problems aren’t real problems. And the Buffer extension mostly takes care of this non-problem, on my end. But from one marketer to another, it’s just good sense to have your content be as easy to share as possible and optimized for doing so.

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That means putting sharing icons front and center, making sure the title of the post or a custom message is pre-filled (and under 140 characters with the link), and including your company handle so you’re credited by default.

If you don’t have sharing icons installed already, try AddThis or ShareThis.

6. Not sending social campaigns to a landing page

Obviously we’re all about landing pages here at Unbounce, but it’s not just because they pay the bills. It’s because they serve a real purpose and serve it well.

Landing pages allow you to send visitors to a super-targeted page that addresses their specific wants or needs.

If you’re a software company running a Facebook ad for your newest feature, sending the people who click on that ad to your homepage – which probably has a lot of general information about your product and a high attention ratiowill just leave your visitors confused and likely to bounce.

By sending them to a landing page focusing solely on that new feature with one call to action urging visitors to try it out, your chances of converting them increase dramatically.

For a more detailed explanation (with examples!), check out Tia Kelly’s awesome post on why sending social traffic to your homepage will leave you forever alone.

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Focus on what works

The landscape of social media will always be changing and with it, its best practices for engaging with and building our communities.

As we learn what works and what doesn’t, it’s up to us to weed out the bad tactics and focus on the good ones. In other words, find what works. And then keep doing it.

What am I missing here? Any social media marketing pet peeves you want to add to the list?

— Hayley Mullen
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About Hayley Mullen
Hayley is Unbounce HQ's resident Community Manager. When she's not chatting with Unbouncers on social media, she's likely watching a questionable reality show, eating cheese as a meal, or petting strangers' dogs on the streets of Vancouver. Connect with Hayley on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter.
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Comments:

  1. Al Gomez

    I also like and love social media like you do, Hayley. Thanks for posting this article, which can be a help to those who are in social media marketing. It is true that marketing over the internet is just easy with the help of the available tools, however, human touch matters. I do hope that social media marketers will start to follow the tips posted above for an effective and productive campaign.

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    • Hayley Mullen

      I’m so glad you liked it, Al! Thanks for taking the time to comment—it’s nice to know others feel the same way as I do! ;)

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  2. Dustin Bromley

    Nailed it, Hayley! Loved this post, and bonus points for 2 Simpsons images.

    Similar to your automated messages point, my biggest pet peeve -and I’m surprised it still happens- is brand accounts with absolutely no personality. We know the logo didn’t just grow fingers to type this tweet.* Social media accounts can represent the company values and still be human.

    *If you’re reading this and your logo has grown fingers, please get in touch with me before contacting the authorities. Also, that’s @$&$#ing awesome.

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  3. Amanda Durepos

    Awesome article Hayley! I hate when local businesses follow me, obviously hoping for a follow back. I love brunch, but not enough to follow Eggspectation.

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    • Stephanie Saretsky

      I’ve also been followed by a rash of businesses lately … not fun. Hayley’s gifs, however, are a lot of fun!

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  4. Terry

    Great information and advice. Appreciate the insight. Have a Great Day! Thanks again

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  5. alicia@payfirma

    Hayley, I loved this article a lot and not just because of all The Simpsons images. I could not agree more of the overuse of hashtags. There are also so many great tools out there that make sharing so easy. SumoMe is a personal favourite and it’s incredibly easy to use.

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Love that you loved it, Alicia! And I would be totally cool with that being due to the heavy Simpsons usage only. ;) I haven’t taken the time to seriously check out SumoMe but it’s on the list. Thanks for the tip (and the comment)!

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  6. Chelsea Scholz

    Great post, Hayley! I especially appreciated the automated tweets/DM piece. I HATE that, and was so embarassed when I figured out that I had subscribed to a platform that was once doing that to me. Oy ve! Anyways, great tips. :)

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  7. Kelly Iriye

    Super great advice, Hayley! I need to do better at tailoring messages to their specific social media pages… thanks for pointing that out!

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Haha believe me, I do too! Doing my best to practice what I preach. ;) Thanks for chiming in, Kelly. I’m happy you found the post useful!

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  8. Allison Otting

    Fantastic post. I will admit that I’m failing at a couple of these due to lack of time, but I’ll be trying to step up my social management game. :)

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Thanks so much, Allison! If only I had a remedy for the all-too-familiar lack of time—if you come across one, let me know! ;)

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  9. Yakov Kofner

    Hi Hayley, thanks for such great list of explanation – super reference for the future!

    What do you think of folks with a large follower base who RT their messages? Have you seen any research whether it does more harm or good?

    Thanks, Yakov

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Thanks Yakov, glad you enjoyed it! Just so I’m 100% clear, do you mean when companies/people reuse their own tweets?

      I haven’t come across any research on whether it’s helpful or harmful (a Google search just brought this up if it helps! http://sproutsocial.com/insights/retweet-your-own-tweet/) but in my opinion it’s totally fine to tweet out the same thing to make sure a larger portion of your audience gets to see it, particularly when it comes to something you’re promoting or a piece of content you really like. I’d just say to tweak the messaging a bit if you can, make sure you stagger the tweets so you’re not bombarding followers with the same thing over and over, and keep the focus on followers’ needs. If you’re re-posting the same things just because it’s easier and not because it’s useful or helpful, eventually your audience will be able to tell (and probably leave).

      Hope that helped at all! :)

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  10. Titan PPC

    LOVE THIS :)

    One other for next time….How about people/businesses who are always bragging? “Look what we did”, “look how amazing we are”….yuk It just becomes invisible to us.

    It needs to be a mix of everything…Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook! ;)

    Thanks!

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  11. jan

    Nicely put Hayley … I did find myself giggling a little with all of the animated GIFs (point proven!) and blushing a little too on some things I need to clean up. Great job!

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  12. ANJALI

    A real help to all those who are engaged in social media marketing.Using social media has both merits and demerits.Like the two sides of a coin.Its up to u on how you take it.The negative things that you put up in social media can cost your reputation and image.

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  13. asjud malik

    Its look like a very informative article about social media basics .Thanks alot for your help

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  14. List of Technical Colleges in Punjab

    Hashtags are having strong connectivity with social media. Social Media sites have maximum traffic on the website.

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  15. Matija

    Again, so perfectly educational and explained with simple words even for us who doesn’t work on social agressively. To be honest – after reading your post, now I finally know what hashtags really are. I know, stupid :) Everbody is trying to explain – but sometimes best explanation comes when we are not explaining. Regards, Matija

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Aw, thanks Matija! And that’s not stupid at all! There’s so much information on social media out there, it gets confusing fast. Glad I could help in any small way. :)

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  16. Kevin

    The amount of over hash tagging that is going on is driving me bonkers! It’s actually an epidemic. I also don’t understand why people think sharing the same thing at the same time on all their social media channels is a good idea. I personally will follow more than just one social media account for any given website or brand and do so to see different content. I almost lose total respect for them and in most cases un follow.

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Hear, hear! Sometimes I see tweets with so many hashtags, you can barely tell what they’re saying. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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  17. Christina

    Really great advice and tips Hayley – thank you very much. I hope I don’t overstep the boundaries but I also know that when I get a DM offering me 500 tweets for $5 I’ll be dropped as an FF pretty soon. I’ve found mainly decent, honest Followers on Twitter who genuinely FF and are interested in the New Forest which is the info re this area I’m trying to put over. Thank you again Kind regards Christina

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Thanks Christina—both for the kind words, and offering your take. Really good to hear from different perspectives. :)

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  18. Vikas Singh Gusain

    Hey Hayley,

    This is really great advice and I completely agree of these tips. But I do not think using the hashtag spamming may be more.

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Great to hear, Vikas! Just so I’m clear, are you saying that over-hashtagging is not something you think is an issue? Or you consider it spamming? Apologies if I’ve mixed it up!

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  19. siful

    Thanks for your outstanding post. usually i used hash tag though i do not use it anymore. thanks for your tips

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Thanks Siful! A hashtag or two is great, it’s when people #start #hashtagging #every #word that it gets ridiculous. ;)

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  20. John Rowan

    Thanks for posting this article. I will use these tips with my company in the future. Great post!

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  21. Scott Michelson

    Great post… you hit my top pet peeves in social… thanks for sharing.

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  22. Britney

    I’m just getting started…thank you for the great tips!

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  23. Steven Boehle

    Automated messages are the worst. I repeat the worst! They are so bad that I do not even look at my messages anymore. I probably have 200+ unread messages. So if you need me, tweet me directly. @StevenBoehle

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    • Hayley Mullen

      Testify! I don’t look at my DMs either—it’s pretty much the same as looking at my email spam folder at this point. Thanks for chiming in, Steven!

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  24. Derek Overbey

    Haley,

    You are my hero! Keep rocking it the way you do!

    Derek

    Sr. Social Media Manager
    VerticalResponse

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  25. Kumar

    Awesome article Hayley, Very helpful Post..

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  26. Carinne Bird

    This is a very informative post especially #2 and #4. Over-hashtagging and Mishandling negative feedback, I am guilty with those. Now I know how to handle these things since I always use my social accounts interacting to different kind of people.

    Thanks for sharing Hayley!

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  27. Lourdes

    I enjoyed reading your article Hayley and related to you with the annoyance of automated messages, over-hashtagging and not optimizing content for sharing. Your GIFS made me laugh and did help to make the point across. LOVE IT!

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  28. Olivia Rousseff

    Nice tutorial..
    Thanks for sharing such a best blog….

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  29. Jenna

    Hi Hayley,
    For some reason, the LinkedIn link doesn’t work. I manually looked up your name, but didn’t see you. I’d love to add you.
    Jen

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  30. Will Stephenson

    I think following people who auto respond is a little annoying. It gives the idea that they are just using twitter as means to drive traffic to their projects.

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  31. Tracy James

    What about hashtags on Instagram? With my business of Fashion Styling I am constantly showing various outfits and looks that I like and using hashtags to mention the brand, the look, the occasion etc. Sometimes it will be quite a few hashtags. Would using more than two hashtags hurt me on Instagram like you are mentioning on Twitter?

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    • Brad Tiller

      I would say definitely not. Instagram uses hashtags in a completely different way than Twitter, and since they’re usually appended to the end of the photo description rather than worked into the body of it, they’re fairly unobtrusive.

      Micro-communities are built around these hashtags on Instagram — particularly so in regards to fashion — so it’s pretty important that you tag your pics diligently! I’d say you’re on the right track!

      That said, some fashion bloggers I follow on Twitter seem to automatically append dozens of worthless hashtags to every single post that they make. THAT is super annoying.

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  32. Writology

    Hayley, thanks for the great article, especially for the insight concerning handling negative feedback. There is definitely much to learn from you in this sphere. If to speak about automated messages, I fully agree with the fact that they are able to harm the business, but what about sending a nod to my product in response to such automated messages sent into my inbox? How do you think: will it help to promote my product or is it simply a waste of time?

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  33. Kelsey

    There’s nothing more frustrating then clicking on a specific software’s social campaign for a certain product and getting sent to their home page. I don’t want to have to search for where this product is on your website! If i have to do that I’m definitely leaving.

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Comments