5 (More) Social Media Mistakes To Avoid


Earlier this week I shared the post ‘Five Social Media Mistakes To Avoid’ by Heather-Anne Maclean. The following mistakes were chosen as her Top 5:

1.  Failing to use a photo or avatar for your profile

2.  Not completing your bio

3.  Having too many networks

4.  Not writing professionally

5.  Failing to be human.

I pretty much agree with all of them – especially 1,2 and 5.  Immediately after I shared it Heather-Anne thanked me and asked what I would add to her list. I liked that –  it showed great social media manners –  a willingness to reach out and engage further with your audience. We don’t always have time to leave a comment on a blog so it’s good to prompt people into thinking further about your post.

So here I am adding to her list. Here are my 5 (More) Social Media Mistakes To Avoid:

1: True Twit and Protected Tweets

As annoying as spam is , it’s nowhere near as annoying as TrueTwit and private accounts.  In case you don’t know, this is where you are asked to go through an account verification before you are allowed to follow someone. I just don’t get it. If you don’t want to be followed why are you using Twitter?

2: Passing off others content as your own

Have your ever posted an update and then seen THE EXACT SAME post from one of your followers or friends? And it’s not just coincidental. It’s your words, your links – minus your name. It’s really bad practice. Please try and credit your source with a HT  or a Via. It’s just the decent thing to do. You will be appreciated for it.

3: Trying to sell to me by Twitter DM.

Here is a tip. If I want to like your Facebook page or subscribe to your blog I will do it in my own time. Get to know me before you try to sell to me. Private messaging is a great way to ask for help , suggest a phone call or meet-up – NOT to sell people stuff. Especially when you haven’t even tried to engage with me. New Rule: Anyone who sends me an auto DM with sell stuff gets unfollowed. If we all do that – they will stop.

4: Broadcasting not engaging.

Regular blog readers will know how much I love broadcasters. Those accounts who only ever talk about themselves or their products and services. They rarely acknowledge others and never highlight the great things that others are sharing. They are the social media version of the person at the party who tells you about their great car, wonderful house, exotic holidays and high achieving kids. Avoid.

Try to share more of other peoples work than you do of your own. It’s nice. People will like you.

5: Being present without having presence.

We’ve all seen the corporate account with 3 posts per week. And the account that was last posted from 163 days ago. They are accounts where someone has clearly being told that they need to be using social media. You don’t. Being present without showing you love being there is actually worse than not being there at all. If you have dormant or under fed accounts – do the humane thing – put them out of their misery.

These are my 5 additions. Do you agree or disagree? And I’d love to hear if anyone has any more….


28 thoughts on “5 (More) Social Media Mistakes To Avoid

  1. I am equally irritated by all of these but particularly the trying to sell me via DM.
    I was also somewhat miffed when someone who had been on one of my Twitter courses emailed me months later to tell me they had set up a Twitter account and would I follow them? I duly followed and emailed back with the helpful tip that it was more usual to follow someone directly on Twitter and they would often follow back. The person neither acknowledged the email nor followed me back!

  2. Love this blog Paul – my favourtie is number 1 about True Twit…. I can’t stand this! Really dont understand why people do it! Why do I need to verify I am a real person to follow you? It just doesnt make any sense!

  3. I was guilty of ticking the protected tweets button – before I realised it meant people couldn’t follow without my approval – how annoying! Think i need a lesson in tweeting… Learning lots from you though Paul! Thanks

    1. Don’t worry Paula – loads of people do that when they first register for Twitter as they think it’s like Facebook. So glad to have been at help. Drop me a DM if you need any help – I don’t mind them from genuine people!

  4. Thanks Ruth. I’ve stopped filling TrueTwit in now. I presume it’s people who don’t want pornbots following them. But I find they just go away , or you can flag them as spam accounts

  5. Great points, Paul. I completely agree on all of them. One of the weird things is, a couple of weeks ago I got an email from Twitter saying someone (named) had invited me to join Twitter. I’m very grateful for the invite to something I’ve been a member of for more than 5 years! And now I’m getting annoying reminder emails of that invite.

    It reminds me of the person who told me, a year or so ago, that I was a very difficult person to track down. My response was to ask if she had heard of the internet.

    1. That is utterly bizarre! John – given your love of foursquare you are quite possibly one of the easiest people to track down in the UK….

  6. Very useful post! I agree with all of these mistakes and I will add one more: reply conversations. There is nothing worse that when someone ask you something or mention you expecting an answer and there is no reply. Twitter is conversation channel so always engage!

    1. I do agree Ailin – though I will put my hand up and admit sometimes I have forgotten to reply. Usually this is when you get a lot of comments and the earlier ones get lost. I’ve also been guilty of not replying to DM’s though this is usually because of spam filling it up! Thanks for the comment I appreciate it

  7. Hi Paul. Thank you for this post. It’s really useful to reflect on what makes good etiquette on Twitter and I am learning all the time. I really like it when people @mention me links or content that they think I might like. I appreciate it, and if I think my followers might also like it then I’ll retweet. However, I am less keen on being @mentioned links or content with a request to retweet, especially when the link/content is very different to the interests I share in my biography. When this happens I tend to ignore the request and that also bothers me as it feels a bit rude on my part. I wonder what is the best approach when you feel someone could do with a bit of a collaborative helping hand when it comes to Twitter etiquette – a friendly direct message perhaps – or maybe this would be a breach of Twitter etiquette in itself ?!?

    1. That’s a great point about requests to RT – I too feel guilty when I don’t. I think RT requests need to be used sparingly. Your tweet earlier made me reflect on how inclusive I am to people starting out – I think I would have appreciated a friendly DM in the early days. In fact – I still don’t mind a friendly telling off… Thanks for posting

  8. Twitter DM is quite annoying, I agree. I have to go through and delete the messages from people who want to sell me products or services. If I follow the person then chances are good I’m interested in his or her content. Sometimes the DM just makes me want to unfollow though I rarely proceed to do that (polite and give them a second chance).

    1. Hey despite my unfollow comment I’m also too polite and give people a second chance! DM spam for me is one of the worst aspects of twitter and can sometimes make you lose valuable comments. I generally don’t delete them so thanks for the tip. And thanks for the comment and RT

  9. Great post as usual Paul. The top 10 (as it is now with yours added!) are a timy reminder for existing tweeters, as welll as for anyone new to Twitter.

    I’d add one more if I can? That is those people who are rude or overtly aggressive to people or tweets they may not agree with. It seems to be the Twitter equivalent of car drivers who as soon as they get behind the wheel change into different people. The same happens with some people on Twitter: Tweet Rage.

    For me the clue is in the title: ‘social’ media! Fine if you don’t agree with a point of view but respond as you would if you were face to face?

    Following a suggestion you previously made, this year I’ve made a conscious effort to start following some people whose views I don’t agree. This is to widen my thinking and perspective.

    Yes some people’s views don’t match my values but if they really offend I can take spme personal responsibility and stop following them.

    So my plea? Remember the ‘social’ in social media.

    1. That’s a great shout Nick. I too try to follow lots of people with a wide spectrum of opinion but often things are best left unsaid. I think having respect for others is a great “11th rule”!

  10. Interesting & helpful post Paul. One issue not covered here is the protocol on thanking people. Some people thank everyone who retweets them, mentions them or follows them. I try to to thank people for retweets but it’s not always possible if there are lots. If you thank no one it looks rude (your broadcaster example) but at the other extreme it starts to look over the top and needy! What is the correct balance that does not cause offence at one end but doesn’t look too much like spam at the other?

    1. Now that Colin is a really interesting point and one I too sometimes struggle with. I used to thank everyone individually. Then I started grouping thank you messages. Then someone told me they found constant streams of names in their feeds as annoying. Now I largely don’t thank people who regularly share stuff assuming (perhaps wrongly) that they know I value them. I always try and respond to comments from new engagers and people who share blog posts. Maybe this one is worthy of a post of its’ own!

  11. Great blog Paul. It’s the sort of information people need once they are ‘off’, most nurses I speak too are at point zero. This is after a couple of weeks I think when they first irrational fears have gone…… Really useful thank you.

  12. Great Post Paul. I’d also say Pressing any URL (dodgy link) by someone you don’t recognise…. I’ve been snared by this, with my account being hacked, in the process all my followers were sent “Weight Loss Products” by DM highly embarrassing…

    If someone’s giving away 50 free Apple Macs with a link attached… It’s probably balls….. Regularly changing your password is good too…

  13. Love the post Paul and all the comments. Like you I no longer bother to follow people who use Truetwit. I must admit I find it puzzling why people do not acknowledge their sources it is the way I find so many interesting people to follow.
    Broadcasting and not engaging means so many organisations are losing out on the opportunity to gather real time feedback about their products and services. Why would they not engage with this valuable research? Arrogance, ignorance about what being truly *social* means or complacency perhaps? I guess if you are a monopoly provider of publicly funded services there are few incentives to rethink the way you engage with service recipients. What we can guarantee is that whether organisations choose to engage or not the conversations will take place through social media and without a focus on brand and reputation management the most unlikely organisations could be confronting a firestorm!

    1. Thanks Shirley – I have to say crediting sources is something I picked up from people like you! It’s a great way of finding new networks as you say. I do have a pet peeve with articles that make it hard for you to find the correct link to the author.

  14. Yes, agree with the 11 (with Nick’s addition). Here are my additional suggestions: people who churn stuff out automatically. I spoke to someone the other day who said she likes catching up with her account at the end of the day to find out what she has tweeted. Secondly, people who only tweet about social media. Of course it’s important, but it’s not the whole of life.

    1. Thanks Tony – interesting point re automated content. I , personally , am comfortable with the use of things like Buffer to evenly distribute content , but I agree that it can be overused. People who broadcast and never engage are the death of social media. As are the people who only ever talk about , ummm, social media…!

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