7 Ways To Make Your Brand Look Terrible On Social Media

In an article by Clair Byrd for Business Insider, she describes how 2012 was a big year for social media, however even bigger were its faux pas’.

“Facebook officially took over the world, Twitter collectively told the world they didn’t want to pay anymore by locking up their API, and Pinterest made everybody with time to kill happy by sucking them into a near endless supply of beautiful food imagery and cat pictures”.

Many of these points are honest and humorous, and remind us that even the big brands mess up sometimes, too. To name a few: KitchenAid, American Red Cross, Chrysler, Stubhub, Vodafone, and MarcJacobsIntl. All of these accounts were “accidentally” hacked with personal tweets, which brings us to the first suggestion of what not to do with branded social media in 2013.

1. Run (or allow employees to run) your brand social channels through personal publishing platforms.

It’s hard to believe that these accidents still occur. Frankly, if I was the voice a million dollar company, I would be a little hesitant to share the screen with my personal accounts. Social media is inherently risky, and this is a simple trick to prevent a catastrophe.

2. #Hashjacking (Stealing a hashtag to broaden the reach of your tweet)

There is never a need to “hijack” a trending hashtag in an unrelated treat in attempt to expand this tweet, for obvious reasons. This behavior will not help you and people will respond negatively. With that said, what may seem like unrelated tags can end up being sarcastic or clever, and are appropriate when used in moderation.

3. Overpost (even Facebook cracked down on your spam!)

A great point made by the author: Imagine you are face to face with your customers. Are you going to throw every piece of information you’ve found on the internet at them, or thoughtfully select the most important things and build a conversation around these points? I choose the latter. Often companies may tend to spam, especially with coupons or specials they may be having. In reality, these brands tend to be avoided and unliked on Facebook. Thoughtful customer engagement is much more effective than nagging posts.

4. Over-automate (Scheduling too much content in advance)

First of all, this can have a tragic ending, such as a tweet from the NRA Rifleman’s Association on the morning of the Aurora shooting, which asked shooters what they were “up to today”. Secondly, this isn’t attractive for any followers who appreciate personal attention and consciousness from their brand. Preplanned content just reads fake.

5. Ignore.. well, any element of your social presence. (Pretending people don’t exist)

Customers have a wide range of positive feedback, questions and well… complaints. Spending too much time on one type of person isn’t fair and will be noticed by your other followers,  especially on Twitter and Facebook. After all, negative comments and complaints won’t go away, so it’s better to resolve the situation immediately. And if you do a good job of managing complaints, you may end up as a viral picture on Tumblr, like Crayola:


6. Talk about yourself (Spend too much time spreading product news, press releases, etc)

Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, once compared social media to a cocktail party. You certainly wouldn’t want to listen to the person talking about themselves over and over again, but hang out with the interesting person that also listens to what you have to say. Keep this ratio in check: 60% content should be proactive engagement with your audience. 20% spreading relevant content that your audience will care about. 20% should be talking about yourself. Not to mention, talking about yourself too much is just plain obnoxious.

7. Using identical language for all brand social networks (Sacrifice quality for convenience)

It’s important to decide which social networks are appropriate for your brand. For example, if you’re selling mens products, you may not be interested in Pinterest which has a 97% population of women. Although your brand should maintain the same personality throughout social networks, you should not send out the same message on multiple social media platforms at once.

Steer clear of these points and you’ll be a social media pro in 2013.

6 thoughts on “7 Ways To Make Your Brand Look Terrible On Social Media

  1. As someone who appreciates stepford perfect food photos and cat pictures, I ain’t even mad. I think what stood out to me the most from your article was using the same voice throughout different social networks. I know some companies you can clearly tell have the same person or team running all of their sites, but others don’t and it’s incredibly awkward. They’ve become part of your branding at that point, I can relate to them and expect them to be there.

    Actual question for everyone: is it THAT farfetched to have accidents happen due to #1? I know I’ve had to run two of the same networks at once (one personal and the other professional) one one phone. I think it’s a bit silly to assume that it will never happen to you as how many companies are going to buy you a whole new computer or phone to run your professional accounts on?

  2. I completely agree with your third point. when company’s tweet to much they irritate their followers. Companies should spend more time with responding to negative feedback and trying to fix the person’s problem

  3. I would have to agree the most with over-posting. For example, I am a huge Buffalo Bills fan and I followed them on Twitter. Needless to say, I had to unfollow them because they had a new tweet for every minute. It is annoying to bog down your followers with irrelevant information.

  4. I think it is really important to share content that is relevant to users but also share something people want to read. When people are constantly just talking about themselves on social media (especially brands) it gets boring and people start to tune you out because of the lack of engagement.
    To your #7, I think that is crucial. Being on the platforms that work best for you and your company is so important. Also if you are using the exact same text across social platforms it gets redundant and boring. It really bothers me when people have their facebook and twitter connected because the two platforms represent two different languages of internet and social media speak.

  5. I agree with the point in this article about over posting. As a social media intern for PR in Rochester I have noticed various local businesses who over post and crowd my news feed. I use Hootsuite and scheduled Facebook posting to spread out my posts on social media to avoid over crowding. I researched when the most traffic is on social media and scheduled my posts that way. Over-posting is the worst, and followers and fans will either become annoyed and irritated and delete the posts or unfollow the business.

  6. I like this post! Its kind of funny in some ways. I have gone through some of my social media connections and have actually seen them do this! Maybe I should link them to this blog post! Anyway. I think this is a great article for those who are trying to avoid social media messes. People are not dumb. They will pick up on these if a business tries to do them.

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