Five Bad Social Media Habits to Break

social media bad habitsSocial media (SM) science is so squishy. Like me, many SM managers remain frustrated about the real, not imagined, impact of our efforts. And of course, the worst case is when the people funding our platform activities become so frustrated that they kibosh all or part of our programs. In my 25+ years in business, I’ve learned that if you have to come up with excuses for your own existence too often, pretty soon you won’t exist at all.

However, as social media managers, we’ve sometimes developed bad habits that make these excuses seem necessary. I think that if we can stop doing at least these five things to start, we can gain new community members, conversions and engagement. Which eventually will lead to brand awareness and differentiation and then, one hopes (and can finally measure using money!) will lead to real, living, breathing prospects.

Let’s meet SM managers Lisa, Carl, Vanya, Stan and Maria and provide them with some constructive criticism about some very bad habits. You can add Patty to the list, too.

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  1. You’re a long-winded Lisa: You know who you are. Most of your posts are exhaustingly dense with words, words, words and more words (phew). I originally created loooong posts for LinkedIn because I thought this platform demanded extra-informative content. I found that people there did like cerebral content and stats — but only one thought at a time. They liked more “marketish” and pithy copy—not the beginning of a white paper simply cut-and-pasted in that space. If I go with one or two sentences, max, I’m fine.
  2. Maria’s posting more on a Monday: She’s searching, searching everywhere and not an optimal weekday to be found. Or so she thinks. Maria’s like me: I used to post loads in the early part of the week, fewer posts on Thursday through Friday, and almost never on a weekend. I assumed that all of my users were like me—I go on social before business hours Monday to plan for the week: What were my clients’ competitors posting? Which trending topics would last the week and needed additional research so my posts about them would be equally valuable? Posts on Friday afternoon and over the weekend started doing better. That was counter-intuitive for the way I work and for the way I feel when the phone pings me on Sunday and it’s a conversion pitch (Leave me alone, football’s on!). I’m sure, like anything else, this will change and then change again for the platforms I manage and for you. Just keep testing best practices against your own audience. You know them best because you’re paying the most attention.
  3. Stan hasn’t found his “stickiest” cadence and stuck with it: I like the way my Hootsuite looks when there are scheduled posts clumped on one day and they cascade satisfyingly across nearly every hour of that day. What I learned was that posting every day –not all day — matters more. Like me, other experts agree—posting daily reaches more people than posting in “clumps”. Stop posting in your time zone if it’s not a high population time zone. I post at Eastern Standard Time for most of my clients—this makes statistical sense and when I tried it, it upped my engagement. Also, morning and lunchtime updates perform better for me (according to LinkedIn). But again, experiment with your platforms and audiences to see what works for you.
  4. Carl- you forgot to convert to cool content: Listen—if I click on a likely link and get some bogus story about how Brangelina is losing weight on gingko biloba — I go bonkers. This is an extreme example, but I think worth mentioning —it’s difficult enough to get people to convert. Don’t send them somewhere only to get annoyed with mediocre content. Blog author Brooke Ballard has a great post about how to use content cadence to improve your content.
  5. Vanya’s posting in a vacuum: She’s making one of the biggest mistakes we can make—not engaging captive audiences in building their brand together on social. A process and protocol for employees and their contacts needs to be in place so that when the buzz starts going, your own, internal fan club can share, link, like and retweet to keep it buzzing.

Do the legwork and find out what associations, publications and professional organizations are active in your industry and RT or share their stuff—while being sure to comment thoughtfully on their posts. You’ll start to take up real estate in their collective brains so that if they’re thinking of new research or want an expert opinion your company and its products and services are top-of-mind.

Remember fellow SM warriors—we’re out ahead of potentially brand-damaging chatter only because we’re listening and learning about our social audiences every darn day. To me, one of the toughest bad habit to break is when I’ve decided what I learned yesterday will continue to work tomorrow. Then, it’s only a matter of time until my SM platforms are as empty as only promises can be.

Talking at each other and not to each other is another habit that’s hard to break, especially if you don’t have the initial man- or woman-power to keep up with conversations. I try to think of the SM manager on her cell phone at her kid’s soccer game or the potential customer tired from a long, frustrating day, scrolling through his tablet and seeing a post that can make his life easier. For me, solid social can become a form of public service if helping others is my main motivation. Kind of “squishy” I know, but it’s what keeps me posting.

Patty Tomsky

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