5 Ways People are Behaving Badly on Social Media for Business

social media 2 I don’t get annoyed when folks make faux pas on social media. I make mistakes all the time, and I think we all could do more to be patient with one another so we can all learn together. But if we’re honest, I think we can all come up with some really counter-productive behaviors on social media that don’t reflect well on our reputations and that are just plain ineffective.

Here are the top five in my mind:

  1. The backhanded reference to physical attractiveness on LinkedIn: You know those posts, where (usually) a woman posts an attractive photo and admonishes men to stop propositioning her on LinkedIn, or posts two profile photos and invites people to comment on which one they like better? This is effective for post-views, but your reputation will take a hit. It may be that these posts are harmless efforts to connect on a more personal level, or to push past the usual boundaries and break through the mountains of information people are posting every day, and provoke an emotional response. But for me, they feel manipulative and inappropriate, whether posted by a man or a woman.
  2. Sending a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn message requesting something the minute you connect with someone:  I ignore these. It doesn’t matter to me at all if people try to impose on me without any relationship capital being built first. I let my silence be my answer. But other people may be turned off enough to break contact, and that’s not what these awkward sellers want or need. I am super generous with my true contacts, so be sure you create some genuine connections with people before you go in for the “ask.”
  3. Asking to be friends with everyone you’ve ever heard of on Facebook: I don’t really use Facebook much-it’s kind of reserved for keeping up with adorable photos of friends’ kids and hiding political rants. I don’t even visit it more than once a week or so. If I see a friend request (which only contains a photo and a name) from someone I don’t recognize (and a very distant business acquaintance is likely to be in that category) I delete it. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t recognize you. I am amazed by the number of requests I get on Facebook from people I have never heard of and don’t have any interest in sharing my personal life with. So unless you see that someone has 1,500 friends and is really active, my opinion is that you should save the interaction for other platforms. You may disagree, but I think Snapchat and Instagram are better choices, because the channels are usually wide open for public consumption anyway.
  4. Tweeting or posting only about your own business: Remember the 80/20 rule: create content that is useful and appealing for your audience at least 80% of the time. Don’t give your followers a reason to mute or unfollow you on Twitter or hide your updates on LinkedIn. My time is really important to me, as I’m sure your followers’ and connections’ is too. Don’t waste it-you will only annoy the people you are trying to attract, and not only miss your goal of trying to market your brand, but create ill will instead. When you’ve built value and trust, you can update your interested audience and they will be glad to hear what you have to say.
  5. Sharing extremely controversial material. I’m a big fan of speaking your truth and being authentic online. But at the same time, if you are marketing yourself and your product to your audience, think about what your customers connect with, and try to avoid irking them with topics that are likely to divide people, like religion, politics and scandal. The caveat is that if you are in an industry or have a personal message that is relevant to one of these subject areas, you may find that in order to be authentic, you need to dive in. By all means, do so, but realize that you may drive some of your audience away.

If you watch these five pitfalls, you will be on the right track. Which bad behaviors that you’ve noticed did I miss?

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Photo credit: Alan O'Rourke via Foter.com / CC BY