english culture essay

7 Boneheaded Social Media Mistakes


I haven’t had much free time for reading recently, so last weekend I decided to put my feet up and start a new book on my Kindle. I’d received a free copy of a new release that had pretty positive reviews, so I thought I’d start with that and see where things went. Before I cracked the metaphorical cover, however, I brewed myself a cup of tea and visited the indie author’s Twitter profile to learn a bit more about her.

And then I deleted her book from my Kindle, without reading a single word of it.

Whereas most authors and writers I follow share tips of the trade and clever anecdotes, this author was using her profile to viciously attack a hotly debated political issue in the international community. Perhaps I would have overlooked a single tweet or two, but she’d taken it upon herself to tweet dozens of times on this particular subject, in addition to retweeting controversial content from others who share her viewpoint.

At the end of the day, an author’s personal life should make zero impact on my reading experience, but I was left with an awful taste in my mouth. I no longer wanted to support this indie author whatsoever. I quickly chucked her book and went looking for something else.

This author made a bonehead mistake, but she’s not alone. Before you make the biggest mistake of your career, learn what social media mistakes you need to avoid.

1. Mentioning Divisive Issues

There’s a huge difference between being authentic and being divisive. Do you know that uncouth expression about opinions, comparing them to rear ends? We’ve all got one, but that doesn’t mean we need to share it with the world.

Unless you’re a polarizing politician with an eager audience of pundits waiting to read your input on a sticky scandal, steer clear of political chatter on your profile. The same goes for other topics that might upset your followers: religion, personal problems, your sex life, etc. There’s no reason to be ashamed of your personal beliefs and perspectives, but there is a proper time and place to discuss these matters. If you can’t fathom a world where you’re not free to send whatever you’d like out into the universe, at the very least separate your personal and business profiles.

2. Forgetting All Sense of Decorum

I am always impressed when I meet someone who holds a very different viewpoint to my own, yet manages to speak to me respectfully and listen to my input without judgment. Choosing to scream and rant comes across quite childish and incompetent. Conflict arises on social media and throughout the blogosphere frequently, and while you’re not able to control the actions of others, you can choose how to respond. Keep your wits about you and take a moment to breathe if you feel yourself acting out in anger. You’ll come out on top, while the other party looks rather foolish.

3. Sanitizing Your Personality

Too many writers and online personalities get caught up in sharing nothing but dry statistics and educational resources with their followers. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing useful links and information, your followers want to feel like you’re a real person. Remember, your brand is YOU. Pepper your updates with glimpses of your personal life and don’t be afraid to take an informal tone. Using social media successfully doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be yourself, it simply means you must learn to identify what counts as an overshare.

4. Spamming the World with Content

You are your biggest fan, we get it. Writers, authors, bloggers…we all use social media to promote our work and connect with likeminded individuals, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to spam your followers with your content. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable to share your blog posts, images, and videos via social media, but be sure to balance your promotional efforts with other posts or you risk losing your audience’s attention.

5. Neglecting Your Appearance

If you knew you were going to be eating dinner with a potential client, you wouldn’t wear a schlubby t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. While you are somewhat protected from the world behind your computer screen (hello, writing this post in my slippers), you are inviting others to review your work, partner with you, or make a purchase. Don’t look like an amateur by forgetting to upload a profile picture or misspelling words in your bio. Just like your website, your social media profiles reflect the identity of your brand.

Helpful tip: It’s also beneficial to focus on continuity by using the same profile images, cover pictures, and logos across your various accounts and platforms. This helps build clout for your business and cements yourself as a professional.

6. Automating Your Updates

Getting sucked in by the social media vortex is all too easy, which is why some people opt to automate their status updates. Unfortunately, social media users are clever, and it will quickly become apparent if you’re not interacting with others naturally. Even worse is when you use a tool to update all of your profiles with the same message on a regular basis. It might be tempting, but leave the automatic updates to others and keep your focus on natural interactions. If you find that you’re having trouble limiting your time on social media, use a pomodoro timer for your phone to keep your schedule in check.

7. Overlooking Analytics

Social media might be lots of fun, but treat your profiles as an extension of your business. Would you slap up blog post after blog post without paying attention to where your visitors are coming from, how long they spend on your site, and whether or not they sign up for your newsletter? Nope! So, why would you spend hour after hour updating your social profiles blindly? Stop overlooking your analytics and consider a tool like Hootsuite Pro to keep your numbers in check.

Have any pointers for managing a social media profile successfully? Do you agree with my points? 

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