Deadly Sins of Social Media & How To Avoid Them!

KatieRussell News Update


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It’s not surprising to know that 96% businesses in the UK now use some form of social media as a platform of marketing. Due to it’s nature of being cost effective, wide and fast reaching, many businesses use this as their main or only form of marketing.

To put things into perspective, last year Facebook had 1.71 billion users, Twitter has 320 million active users and LinkedIn has 450 million users, now that’s a pretty huge audience to get your message in front of.

Whilst social media is a relatively easy form of marketing to utilise, mistakes and errors in judgement are made every day. It’s key to familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts of social media marketing and most importantly, the deadly sins to avoid…


Many businesses make the mistake of blindly posting continuous articles, images and general content without listening to their clients or customers. Whilst the articles may be relevant, much of the time there is little or no engagement with the people you were trying to reach in the first place.

Just as we have two ears and one mouth – social media is not just for content going out – it’s mass appeal – but also key engagement!


One of the top tips to success on social media is a) being proactive and b) being reactive to potential/existing customers.

Due to the nature of social media and its readily accessible nature, you must be on hand to respond to new posts, news stories happening now and client/customer interactions. A fantastic example being a recent Twitter post asking – which should I have? Dominos or Pizza Hut. He didn’t tag the companies in his post yet Dominos responded in minutes saying – “You know which gets our vote”. Reacting to a customer post and engaging with them can make all the difference when it comes to making a sale.


Social media users are pretty savvy, they can normally smell a lie two clicks away. Resist the desire to lie about your achievements or create phony reviews – someone will spot it.


Everyone gets angry and no one likes negativity toward their brand or product but reactions on a highly visual platform such as social media are highly important. This may not necessarily mean being directly lashing out at a bad comment but failing to react appropriately can be just as damaging. Criticism and complaints aren’t always a bad thing as they keep businesses on their toes, it ensures that you are on target with what your customers want. Listening and responding appropriately is more likely to gain you new customers because of how you handle the situation. At the very least, if handled correctly, you shouldn’t lose the customer in question.


Tailoring content isn’t quick but it’s definitely worthwhile spending the time on. Simply blanket posting across platforms without tailoring the content in line with the avenue of communication can often end in failure. Simply posting the same duplicate post out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will not inspire your peers, your customers or anyone else who may be watching. MTV absolutely nailed their tailoring with their Best Hero award at the MTV movie awards – they utilized each platform to build the story so that followers could weave together a complete picture.


Yes, we all want more followers, more followers mean more (organic) reach. With more people and businesses joining social media every day, it’s getting harder to get heard and get noticed. However, tactics used by some brands to gain more likes, shares and followers can look greedy and sometimes desperate.

For any brand, 100k followers is great but, would you rather have 50K followers who are right for your brand and actually interested in what you have to say? Every so often, if you manage a social media account, you get a cheeky email through from an online business asking if you want to pay for more followers – yes, this can obviously increase your organic growth but what are the chances of those being relevant to your brand, that they will remain following you or the possibility that they could be ghost followers.


Making ‘friends’ on social media is advisable – simply rocking up to the Twitter party, posting some ads up for your business and then expecting everyone to share and like your content is a little selfish don’t you think?!

You have to dedicate some time and energy into ensuring that you give out what you expect to receive back. Don’t simply post out your own content, make sure you’re engaging and supporting other businesses in the process – be a good social media citizen! Showcasing other businesses is actually a great form of networking and will often lead profiles to your own business.


Analytics are provided by each social media platform to make your life easier! They are a direct reflection on your followers, your target audiences and your competitors – yet so few businesses use this information to mold their social media strategies and schedules. This results in aimless scheduling and irrelevant content.


Referencing trending topics to encourage a more significant organic reach is all well and good but you MUST ensure that it is relevant to your brand. Simply referencing a hashtag trending topic to get you noticed may do your brand more harm than good.


Businesses should resist the urge to post pointless and also overly salesy content. Constantly trying to force your product or service down consumer’s throats will only result in losing existing or potential customers. Content which doesn’t hold value for those viewing it will encourage lost followers. Those in charge of a company’s social media accounts should endeavour to post a selection and variety of content to engage and (excite) followers and gain more.


Twitter especially has become a sounding board for disgruntled customers, it’s a quick (sure fire) way to get a reaction or a response. A study carried out by Lithium in 2016 highlighted that 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within the hour.

Recently an American network representative tried to poach business on Twitter from a major competitor by responding to a dissatisfied customer. This resulted in the customer becoming hostile towards company poaching for business for becoming embroiled in a conversation that they were not invited to. This obviously had a directly negative impact on the brand.

A slightly better way to approach a situation like this would have been an action recently demonstrated by a Midlands email service provider who went down leaving thousands of users unable to log on to their email on a busy Wednesday morning. Many took to Twitter to display their annoyance. The responses were professional and timely, they reassured all users that they were working hard to get their services up and running as quickly as possible. An excellent platform to get their message out and heard quickly and efficiently. A week on from this unfortunate set of circumstances and a significant competitor of said email provider had done their research and contacted everyone who had complained on Twitter to offer a ‘better’ rival service. This is a fantastic way of utilising social media to obtain new customers but it hasn’t embarrassed or resorted to ‘low-blow’ tactics in the process.

The core objective in any potential new business opportunity is to treat customers like humans and not pound sign opportunities.


Posting controversial content including sexual content, racist comments, political and religious views will undoubtedly lose you followers however even content which is viewed by the social media controller as appropriate – i.e. work night out photos and selfies etc., may not show the company in the best light – the content must be on brand!


Ultimately when using social media, you should use your gut feeling, if it doesn’t feel right – don’t post it!! However hopefully some of these tips will give you some guidance along the way!

Kate Holt – Founder of Tartan Otter

If you have any queries about social media, marketing or events then please get in touch with us at or directly at

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