best practices social mediaTwo years ago, I wrote the original 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media here on Social Media Today. While many of those offenses continue to hold true, the landscape has changed considerably, and with it, our knowledge of each platform. Every good social strategy evolves with its audience (and brand!), so here are seven new sins that reflect what social media managers are struggling with now - and how to reset your course. 

Misappropriation

Just because something is happening doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of it for your brand. There’s a difference between being clever and being annoying, and forcing the royal baby into your content schedule for the sake of a post is spammy, not clever. An example? The summer’s weirdest trend: Hot Dogs, or Legs? Brands that sell hot dogs jumped in, and that made sense because, well, they sell hot dogs. Brands selling outdoor gear, on the other hand? A less clear connection that looks like a desperate plea for engagement. The saying that any content is good content is false. Keep it grounded in your brand’s footprint.

Abandonment

The worst community management offense is arguably what I call the “hit and run.” Different from the neglect I called out in 2011, abandonment is when a post has been made by the brand, but then the brand drops off from re-engagement completely. Social media is a vehicle for conversation, and if you fail to keep one going, you’ll also fail to be top of mind when consumers are offline. It's all about creating positive feelings that will, at the end of the day, become a reference point for your brand when someone reaches across the aisle to pick up your product. 

Manipulation

As a strategist, I’ve been fascinated with things like Facebook’s EdgeRank since word of it first surfaced. However, we’ve now reached a point as an industry where brands are posting photos simply because they have a longer hang time in the news feed, not because they’re part of a tight content strategy. Stop with the word searches and games, and start posting things that will inspire people. Similarly, don't ask people to vote on posts with likes or comments unless you plan on doing something with those insights (like tailoring your content). How will that word search post of yours deepen consumer relationships, anyway? It won’t, so don’t.

Ignorance

Another offense that’s committed on a regular basis by social media managers? Forgetting to study up on the terms of service each platform has. Did you know, for example, that you can’t use Instagram photos in advertisements without express consent? Or, that you can’t ask Facebook users to share a post as part of a contest entry? Each platform is getting more stringent, and will suspend you if you’re not carefully following their rules. Know what you’re doing so that all of your projects run smoothly.  

Monotony

Identifying a passion point for your audience is a powerful tool for success, but beating it to death ruins the point. Have followers who love football? Give them content that validates that passion in a myriad of ways. Simply switching the team you mention in the same post template won’t do it. Get creative with your content. The internet is a resource that should, in this case, serve to inspire and influence what branded content you create. If you’re running out of steam, it’s time to do more research about what your fans connect to. Remember to keep it on brand, or else you risk our first new sin.

Narcissism

It’s the piece of feedback that content designers are all too familiar with: make the logo bigger. However, plastering a logo onto every single piece of content isn’t emphasizing your role as a trendsetting social brand; it’s making you look like a personified advertisement. There’s a time and a place for your logo to go on content (like if it’s posting to a third party where others will share directly from there, not you). Adding your logo to half of an image on your Instagram feed, however? Not going to work. As a consumer, I don't want to feel like I’ll be spamming my friends by sharing your content. Let the cool factor lead here. Giving your audience a way to look smart to theirs requires a little subtley, but ultimately rewards you. 

Uniformity

Each platform has different strengths and weaknesses. While Twitter is the go-to for second-screen activity, Facebook allows for the most data capturing when running a sweepstakes. Instagram video and Vine video have different qualities. Failing to see how to use each platform uniquely to create a harmonized social strategy will ultimately bore your audience & cause them to develop loyalties elsewhere. Don’t cross-post the same thing every time; look at how you can make the most impact. Run competitive audits to see what utilities you can provide, on each of your platforms, that will change the way your brand’s industry is interacting. Sure, it requires more work, but nothing worth having ever comes easily.