How to Alienate Your Social Media Audience

Social media is a powerful tool in the right hands, and your business can do great things with a well executed Facebook or Twitter campaign. But you can harm your business if you’re not careful when executing your social media strategy. There are a couple of quick ways to alienate your social media audience… I don’t suggest any of them.

OMG Spam

First of all, and this is obvious…Spam. People hate being spammed. They also don’t like being reminded to Like or Retweet or Follow with every post. Popular comic artist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal explains how to get more Facebook Likes – in “colorful” Oatmeal fashion. He has great points! No customer wants to go to a Facebook page and see the brand they were interested in purchasing pleading with people to create a connection. Instead, that business should be already creating something memorable that’s going to make people want to come to their page to talk about it with others who enjoy the brand or service.

Angry Face by Piez 丫莫蝸牛, on Flickr

This is what your fans look like when you spam them.

For Twitter, Direct Message spam is always a no-no. I know many people who will unfollow you if you send auto-DMs to their new followers. Other Twitter sins include begging people to retweet or follow back, or sending @ replies to your entire list. Create a twitter feed that people will want to view, and enjoy reading your 140 characters or less – without making it a popularity contest.

Fork II by 11950mike, on Flickr

If you auto-DM me, please stick this fork in your eye.

How Does This Thing Work Again?

You can really screw things up if you don’t know how to use the platform properly. It sounds simple, but don’t put the controls in the hands of someone who doesn’t have much experience with social media. Disasters can happen. Often, Facebook authorizes users to post as a business by first linking their personal Facebook account to the Fan or Business page in question. Always, always make sure you’re not posting a personal update to Facebook to your business page by accident – or vice versa, particularly if you have a client relationship with a page you administrate that is not publicly known. It only takes a second to delete a mistake, but it’s worth mentioning. You never know how many people are going to catch that mistake before it gets fixed. And – I shouldn’t have to mention this – but make sure your brand has a fan page, not a personal profile. No one wants to have to wait for a brand to approve a friend request…

Brands should have a fan page, not a personal Facebook profile

As for Twitter, deleting tweets sent in error is usually fast and simple on the Web interface or with any smartphone app, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck. But if your folllowers are using one of those Twitter apps, they may still see your deleted tweets after the fact. I’ve witnessed this when using Seesmic. And let’s not forget how many sites out there archive tweets in real-time. Oh yeah, and the Library of Congress, too.

Embarrassing Chrysler tweet

Knowing how to use hashtags on twitter to your advantage is also a great skill, but knowing when to not abuse them is even better. Don’t try to hijack trending topic hashtags, event or conference hashtags, or otherwise unrelated or inappropriate hashtags for the purpose of self-promotion.

Basically, just don’t be that guy. Because a split second mistake by that guy will get heckled for a long time to come… and you could end up fired like that guy who worked for Chrysler’s social media agency. And the social media agency.

About Christina Gleason

Christina Gleason is that person who corrects your grammar on Facebook the founder and editor of Phenomenal Content, a Web content writing company. A dedicated geek, Christina is also quite addicted to World of Warcraft, Twitter, and Pinterest. She is not an extrovert, but she plays one online.