10 ways to make your social media audience hate you (& how to avoid them)

Social media brings with it a multitude of sins. Our personal feeds are filled with contacts that make us audibly groan whenever we see their updates.

You know the ones: the brag-a-holic who reminds you just how awesome their life is every minute of the day, the emotional roller coaster whose relationship status changes more times than Lady Gaga does in concert and those horrors that bombard you with Candy Crush invites.

This kind of behaviour is not exclusive to casual users of social media: brands, businesses and even social media managers themselves can put themselves out there in the exact same manner, rubbing up followers the wrong way without the foggiest idea they’re doing so.

But what is it that irks your followers to the point they actively remove you from their feed? Here’s ten social media faux pas to avoid if you want to hit your audience’s ‘on’ switch.


1. CTA overkill


As we all know, clear call-to-actions are a requisite for effective business promotion, with words such as ‘share’, ‘like’ and ‘buy’ telling your audience exactly what to do. Thing is, you can easily cross the line between subtle CTAs and morphing into Sir Spam-a-lot. Go easy on the action verbs: use those kinds of posts in moderation by mixing them with useful, engaging ones.


2. All about the sales


You can have the best product or service in the market, but customers will never connect with your brand if all you do is push it down their throats. Social media is the most glorious sales tool in the world, but your customers shouldn’t be aware that’s what you’re doing. Again, mix up promotions with valuable content (or even better, amalgamate the two) so your followers don’t just see a thread of ‘buy now’, but purposeful content they genuinely want on their feeds.


3. Lacking passion

Humans are emotional creatures, responding to content emotionally – particularly if it’s a strong, positive message. You want to brighten your followers’ feeds, not bore them – and if you’re not ‘feeling’ what you’re writing about, neither will your audience. There’s plenty of methods you can use to sex up your social media, such as pinpointing exactly what fires your mojo about a subject and focusing on that. Passion is infectious – use it.


4. Hashtag everything


Using hashtags is wonderfully effective when it comes to getting your posts seen by a wider audience, but overdoing it looks massively unprofessional. The beauty of Twitter, for example, is its simplicity; everything in one neat 140-character package. No one wants to see a flood of hashtags, especially if they have no relevance to the topic. Either use content hashtags that are very much relevant to the copy, or create your own branded hashtag to add to posts.


5. Not thinking before you post


New York food site, Epicurious, outraged their followers on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 when they insensitively tweeted: ‘In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!’. Wow. A sure-fire way to alienate customers, right there.


If you see something going viral in the media world and can relate your own brand’s purpose to it; engage and get seen by a bigger audience. But never ever jump on what’s hot just for the sake of it – it’s glaringly obvious to your followers and terribly unprofessional etiquette.


6. Tackling too many networks


So you’ve set up a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, and Vine account, without the foggiest idea of what you’re going to do with it all – let alone the time to regularly update them. Without clear research, planning and use of management tools, your platforms will be left collecting dust – which looks worse than having none at all.


7. Not using the ‘H’ weapon


That’s right, humour. Comedy is a powerful tool, so long as it’s done right. Don’t dig yourself a grave by posting nothing but corporate, dull content; be adventurous, humorous and conversational. You don’t need to be rib-splitting stand-up material, just make sure the copy you’re posting be read aloud without sounding misplaced – and give followers a little chuckle now and then.


8. Forgetting your goals


Be a man with a plan, or all social media efforts will be a waste of time and energy. Before posting anything, ask yourself: is this going to drive views to the website? Raise awareness? Help your audience? Not having focus, strategy or brand goals will be glaringly obvious to your audience – and posting something bland and insincere is worse than not posting anything at all.


9. Falling into the hands of the GrammarNazis


The internet is heaving with trolls and pedants – and it will rip you apart if you’re not perfect. Okay, that’s a tad dramatic, but spelling and grammar is so important. You’ll be surprised how many brands fail to spot basic errors; we’re only human, after all. Careless mistakes speak volumes about your brand and lower the value of what you’re posting.


10. Being a social media wallflower


Making connections is all about give and take. Your followers will feel closer to your brand if you ignite conversation and respond to their comments. Always give people more than they expect to get by retweeting and replying in a positive manner. Too much talk and not enough listening on social media is just like it is in the real world – rude and annoying.


Recognise yourself as a social media sinner? There’s only one thing to do: immediately delete your accounts and throw yourself to the hounds.

Just kidding – by keeping these rules in the forefront of your mind you’ll know where to look next time you see a dip in followers. Focus on those brand goals, think like your audience and remember – quality over quantity. You’ll be rolling in those ‘likes’ in no time.

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