Social media bad practice

The relentlessly helpful® blog by John Espirian

4 February 2018
Social media bad practice

Crappy behaviours to banish from social media.

This is a mini rant about bad social media interactions with followers and connections.

Automated direct messages.

Send a personalised note or don’t bother.

I’ve seen cases where some automated messages contain deliberate spelling mistakes, so that a subsequent automated message can be used to apologise for and correct the mistake.

That’s a pretty feeble attempt at making these messages seem real – no one’s buying that rubbish.

Also, there are already enough real text errors out there without people adding deliberate fake typos.

I use LinkedIn’s Away message feature to give tips to 1st-level connections who DM me there.

I reason that this is OK because it’s an attempt to be helpful and it ought to be clear that it’s not really me trying to have a fake conversation with people.

An example is shown below and you can see others in my post titled Use LinkedIn away messages to add personality.

LinkedIn Away message sample

Automated replies in public.

This sucks. Anyone who looks at your feed won’t get a good impression.

Also, automated tweets about ‘top engaged followers’ add no value. If you’ve set up anything like that, turn it off.

Following, unfollowing then refollowing.

Don’t try to game the system to get someone to follow you. There’s someone doing this to me a lot right now. No way am I following her back.

Some social media software offers to help you build your social media following. But it does so by making your account follow others. Then it unfollows any accounts that don’t follow back within a few days.

This is crummy practice. You should decide which accounts to follow based on what interests you. Don’t hand this over to an app and let it mess others around like that.

Not replying to messages.

OK, emails often go into spam, but we’re talking about social media here.

Direct messages (DMs) tend to be delivered successfully, and usually you can see that they’ve been read.

Don’t let those messages go unanswered – unless the sender is a spammer or a troll.

Hashtag hijacking.

Don’t use a hashtag to share unrelated/spam content.

Use a hashtag that’s popular or trending if you have something relevant to say. But if you pitch this as a sales message, expect it to go down like a lead balloon.

Trolls, spammers and porn accounts are the most frequent hashtag hijackers. You probably don’t want to be associated with them.

Tagging lots of people in posts.

It’s OK to ask for opinions but don’t make your posts a wall of tags.

I often mute people who do this, which means I probably won’t hear from them again. Don’t be that person.

Tagging is OK if the message is highly relevant to the person being tagged. Often, this happens because the poster wants to get more engagement. That alone is not reason enough to pull someone into your post.

Not tagging the author of content you share.

It’s good to give credit – and it’ll probably improve the reach of your post.

If you post something without crediting the author or source, the reader may assume the content is yours.

So, show appreciation and tag people when you’re sharing something they made or said.

PS. It’s annoying when people see what’s trending on Twitter or TikTok and then repost it on LinkedIn. Stop jumping on the viral bandwagon!

Sending generic LinkedIn invitations.

That’s like putting your business card in someone’s pocket and walking away. Come on – send a note.

Here’s how to personalise invitations on the LinkedIn mobile app.

Requesting endorsements from people you don’t know.

Don’t connect with someone, exchange a couple of messages and assume that’s enough to ask them for an endorsement or a recommendation.

It takes a while to get to know people to the extent that you can be truly confident in recommending them. This is especially true in the online world.

Giving recommendations is great and people should do it more often – but only to those they know well.

Adding email addresses to distribution lists.

It’s happened to us all. We connect with someone, they get access to our email address and then – boom – we’re added to their spammy mailing list.

Does anyone get business from this? It’s an awful practice and I hope the GDPR means it becomes less common.

Sending links/posts in direct messages.

It’s annoying when someone avoids publicly tagging you only to direct message you a post they want you to engage on.

Sure, if the material is highly relevant, that makes sense. But sending people your stuff just so they can get their numbers up isn’t good practice.

Don’t use people like this – they’ll only resent you later.

Let’s wrap up.

These are just a handful of practices to avoid on social media.

Remember that everything you do online has the potential to make a positive or negative impression about you and your business.


Be part of Espresso+

The community for freelancers & small business owners.

119 recommendations
for John

John Espirian

I’m the relentlessly helpful®️ LinkedIn nerd and author of Content DNA

I teach business owners how to be noticed, remembered and preferred.

Espresso+ is a safe space to learn how to ethically promote your business online and get better results on LinkedIn.

Follow me on

Share on
social media