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The 5 Worst Social Media Practices Brands Should Avoid

Source | FastCompany : By MICHAEL GROTHAUS

You don’t need to look too hard to find brands that have suffered epic social media fails. Like that time Spirit Airlines tried to leverage the sexual abuse caused when hackers stole and leaked privately stored nude photos of female celebrities into a low airfare marketing campaign. Or how about when AT&T tweeted about 9/11 while promoting their phones?

The lure of the medium is powerful. Various studies show that the proper use of social media can increase brand sales by 55% in some cases or by millions of dollars in others. However, in hindsight, the examples above prove that despite the importance and power of social media to brands, there are often times when they are better off stepping away from the keyboard and not posting anything at all.

Whether it’s to avert a social debacle or maintain a growing following, three social media experts reveal some practices to avoid.


Social media services like Hootsuite and Buffer allow brands to draft social media posts in advance and auto-post at a predetermined time in the future. Yet some brands use these services to their detriment, says Philip Calvert, a social media strategist and professional speaker on social media selling.

“I know a number of financial-services tech companies who are constantly tweeting and posting on social media—all times of day and night, and it’s obvious that they have been preprogrammed with very little thought for whether or not their customers are listening/watching,” says Calvert.

This mechanical posting style can harm a brand’s social media image. Those that rely too much on auto-posting run the risk of turning what should be an informative stream into something that is generic, dull, and predictable.

Calvert says one way brands can identify if auto-posting could potentially be harming their social media presence is by comparing the number of followers a brand has to the number of customers they have. “If there is a big disparity, then it means that the value of their social media activity isn’t yet fully engaging their customers,” Calvert says. Time to replace the auto-poster bot with a human behind the keyboard.


One of the first places news breaks about a tragedy such as a school shooting, a natural disaster, or a terror attack is Twitter. Although they’re mixed in with sports and tech news and celebrity gossip, once updates on the tragedy start to appear, people’s mind-sets shift. Suddenly, everything else on social media seems trite and unimportant. That change in public perception to non-related tweets is something brands need to be extremely conscious of, says Clare Groombridge, founder and director of South Coast Social Ltd, a boutique social media and marketing agency exclusively for small- to medium-sized businesses.

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