Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

5 Social Media Marketing Tactics to Avoid

5 Social Media Marketing Tactics to Avoid

Successful social media marketing involves many factors including understanding the various tools possessed- or hiring for - the skills needed to carry out the required activities and identifying and building a relationship with your customers and prospects so your efforts are well-received. Part of succeeding with social media marketing also involves recognizing the pitfalls and avoiding them.

Instead of focusing on what to do and how to do social media marketing well, let’s instead look at what notto do when engaging in social media marketing. Here are some things to avoid:

1. Being (Overly) Promotional

Let’s face it: Social Media Marketing is just that - marketing - but social networks were not developed as marketing platforms. Social networks started as places for people to gather, communicate, and connect. They became more "commercial" to generate revenue and to stay in business.

While using social media to promote your company makes sense, balancing commercial messages (and actual commercials) with useful content, meaningful interactions, and genuine value is more effective in the long run. You want people to not only listen or pay attention to what you post but to also connect with you in some way.

By being blatantly promotional all the time without providing any value will turn people off and defeat the purpose of engaging in social media marketing in the first place.

2. Jumping on a Hashtag

Hashtags are a popular way to label or tag your posts with a topic or with an expression of some kind that helps increase the visibility of your content. Hashtags are not owned by anyone and can be used by everyone. Creating your own hashtag that corresponds with an aspect of your brand, your brand message, or a specific campaign is a common way to help identify your posts and locate others posting related content.

Jumping on someone else’s hashtag is a social media marketing tactic that can have mixed results. While it might be tempting to see a trending hashtag and adding it to your posts, without doing some careful research - and making sure your post is appropriate and relevant - you could cause an embarrassing situation for your company. When you see a trending hashtag, click on it and read through multiple posts to get a sense of the content and sentiment.

What could go wrong? Say that the trending hashtag is #summerfun and you own a pool supply company. Sounds perfect, right? What if the posts using #summerfun, however, were talking about illegal or inappropriate activities? Do you really want your pool supply-related post tied to questionable online conversations? Of course not! Just because it is trending does not mean it’s suitable for your brand.

3. (Over)Relying on Scheduling

Planning out and scheduling posts is a tried-and-true way to save time and maximize limited resources. The downside of scheduling is becoming too reliant on the handy tech tools and forgetting that social media is about being social. Scheduling some key promotions or time-sensitive posts makes sense, but to get the most out of social media marketing, you need to spend time on the various social networks, responding to inquiries and participating in conversations in meaningful way.

Keep in mind that when unexpected things happen in your industry, community, or the world, those events could affect how your schedules are received. If you are promoting a sale during a tragedy or natural disaster, your message could come across as insensitive or tasteless. Some scheduling tools have pause buttons to hold off on regularly scheduled posts to help prevent messaging mishaps.

4. Spamming

Nobody wants to see a multitude of posts from you in close succession. Posting excessively is considered "spam" and can backfire on you resulting in losing followers. Every social network has a different pace for posting. While some, like Twitter, may be more tolerant of multiple posts throughout the day, Facebook is less about posting many times and more about posting at strategic intervals with engaging content. Using Pinterest, on the other hand, is most effective when you pin multiple things often throughout the day.

Unless you pay to advertise, you are not guaranteed views, however, bombarding your followers with repeated or continuous messages is not a wise tactic.

5. Buying Followers

The dirty little secret about social media followings is that most accounts that suddenly have thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers are most likely buying them. Even paying social networks to advertise does not result in massive numbers of followers. There are entire businesses built around letting you "buy" followers and post likes, however, using them may cost you in credibility.

Several ways buying followers is not beneficial:

  • The high number of followers with very low engagement shows they aren’t interested.
  • Followers who are random and off target will never pay attend or respond.
  • The inactivity of bought followers can hurt the visibility of your account activity.
  • The skewed follower number will distort your account metrics.

Even though there is the benefit of having a large following to give an initial impression that your brand is popular, most people can recognize a fake following.

While there are no hard and fast rules stating you should not do any of the tactics mentioned above, they are not part of social media marketing best practices. If you decide to try them, know the potential - and likely - drawbacks.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman