Social Media

10 Things Your Brand Needs To Stop Doing on Social Media – Like Now!

The last few years have seen brands (and CEOs) taking to the social media stage like never before. But it isn’t always a good thing. Giving followers the ‘ick’ could see you blocked, unfollowed or snoozed. So here are 10 things your brand needs to stop doing on social media – like now.

#1 Humblebragging

If you make casual, modest or self-deprecating statements on social media to showcase what is actually an admirable or impressive quality/achievement, you might be a humblebragger.  If you’re proud of something, such as an industry award or professional milestone, shout about it clearly. Don’t mask what you actually want to say behind a ‘humble’ post that’ll make people dislike you.

This rant about sacrifices and finding ‘future superstars’ for example has nothing to do with business. It’s an egoistic rant with nothing but self-promotion in mind. Yuck.

Humblebragging is particularly awful when it involves some kind of good deed. If you happen to give a drunk homeless man that’s fallen into a ditch your leftover sandwich, or plan to donate your Christmas beer fund to the less fortunate, don’t post humiliating pictures or some sickening rant about equality and the power of humanity. You can engage in acts of kindness or charity without telling everyone. Corporate social responsibility is a great thing but not when it becomes all about you.

This video from a Daily Mail writer really got me this weekend. If you’re looking for quiet reflection, don’t ask your mate to film you placing flowers then tweet it. And that well rehearsed thoughtful pose… just stop it!

Social media fans were unimpressed. Obviously.


Want more humblebrag terribleness? Follow @_DHOTYA and @StateOfLinkedIn on Twitter.

#2 Copying Other Brands or Telling your Agency To

Whatever you do, don’t copy other brands on social media as this could have pretty disastrous consequences. Burger King found this out the hard way, when they ran an ad consisting of a tap-and-hold game that was disconcertingly similar to the tap-and-hold games used by San Francisco artist, Pablo Rochat, which he used to establish his footing as a creative. To get revenge, Pablo flooded Burger King’s ‘tagged photos’ on Instagram with ‘phallic’ content which inspired other followers to also tag the fast-food joint in genitalia-related images Doh!

Social media marketers often don’t choose to copy other brands. They are instead pressured into it by bosses and shareholders. So if you’re that shareholder, you need to step back and allow your team to craft their own creativity! Come up with your own ideas, use your own hashtags and create images that belong to you and you only.

#3 Ignoring Comments or Questions on Posts

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of posting something pretty decent then logging out of your social channels for the weekend. We’ve all done it. But if you really want to build a loyal social media following, you need to prioritise consumer engagement. Replying to all comments, questions and direct messages (DMs) is a good place to start as it will help to build consumer trust. Also, if anyone has an issue that they address publicly, you can instantly rectify it in front of followers. This is good for PR. If you lead with a question, be sure to acknowledge, share and respond to replies as this will show you care and could lead to some great debates. Don’t want to deal with replies over the weekend? Don’t post on a Friday or expand your team to manage the additional workload.

And another thing. Brands, if you claim you’re ‘transparent,’ ‘honest,’ ‘customer-focussed’ and prioritise integrity, do not turn off your comments. There’s no quicker way to land you in the spam department of a consumer’s mind, as it indicates you’ve something to hide. This is particularly true in industries such as finance and fintech.

#4 Using Trends Without Understanding Them

 As a social media marketer, it’s important to have a calendar with important social media themes and dates you can join in with. But make sure you do it right. Jumping on a trend that you don’t understand will reflect badly on your brand. Burger King Austria got a whole load of backlash for their Pride 2022 campaign, for example.

In a bid to recognise and support their LGBTQ+ customers, the fast-food chain launched a Pride Whopper for Pride Month featuring “two equal buns for equal love and equal rights.” Social media commenters joked that by selling a product with ‘two tops’ or ‘two bottoms’, the fast-food company must not understand how gay sex works. Say no more. The whole thing is just absolutely cringe and completely off the mark.

The other thing about jumping on trends is that you need to be really clear about how your business operates and if there are any skeletons in the closet. Many brands have been slammed for using Pride to sell products while donating funds to discriminatory political parties.

BoohooMAN were also pulled up for slapping ‘love is love’ on a T-shirt while paying workers in Pakistan a pretty measly sum. Also, while Boohoo reported total group sales of £1.98bn in 2022, only 10% of Pride collection proceeds went to the LGBTQ charity Outright. It seems boohooMAN is a bit like your uncle who says he ‘doesn’t mind gays’ but still winces during the intimate scenes in It’s a Sin.

#5 Not Having a Strategy and Being Inconsistent

According to recent research from Semrush, 97% of businesses surveyed include content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. However, there’s a catch. Of the 1,500 companies surveyed, 78% that said content marketing helped their business had a documented content marketing strategy in place. On the other hand, 81% of companies dissatisfied with content marketing did not have a strategy. Being  inconsistent won’t do you any favours. So take time to know your audience and where they hang out. Know when and where you should post and what content people want to read. Plenty of research will fuel your strategy and help you to build a loyal following.

Coming up with a content marketing strategy for social media is not a five minute job. It involves deep analysis of the demographic you’re targeting including times they’re online and the searches they make. You need to know your keywords, tone of voice, content style and what you do and don’t permit online – emojis, slang, memes, colloquialisms and so on. You need to also think about and set KPIs that’ll help you to monitor and tweak your social media performance. So if you’re not sure where to start, it’s a good idea to seek help from a trusted content marketing agency like Contentworks.

#6 Don’t Mess With Your Reputation for Laughs

There are so many brands out there that rely on humour to generate brand awareness and revenue – we’re looking at you Wendy’s, Charmin and Innocent to name just a few. But if you’re not really known for your quick wit, it’s probably best to stay away from cheap laughs. IHOP got dragged through the mill for ‘casual misogyny’ when they posted a nipply-looking stack of pancakes with the following caption: “Flat but has a GREAT personality.” No, no, no!!!! Burger King also played with fire when they tweeted ‘Women Belong in the Kitchen’ on International Women’s Day. The post was meant to highlight a lack of female chefs and their mission to change the gender ratio in restaurants, but it backfired massively. *Sorry, not sorry to Burger King who have appeared quite frequently in this article.*


Advice from someone who sees a lot of social media mishaps. Don’t play for laughs. Stick to your tone of voice and don’t suddenly change things up to fit a trend. If you’ve got a compliance team, use them. Additionally seek out (and listen to) opinions from a more diverse crowd than your immediate team.

#7 Stop Selling All The Time

You wouldn’t hang out with someone who spoke about themselves, and absolutely nothing else, one hundred percent of the time. So why would your followers want to see loads of promotional posts whenever they go online? Content marketing doesn’t have to be all about the hard sell. There are loads of things you can do to attract and retain followers. From thought provoking debates, news, quizzes and competitions to polls, surveys, infographics, graphs, memes, videos, links to articles and more. Use the 80/20 rule which says you need to spend 80% of your time listening and responding, but only 20% talking about yourself.

#8 Being on Every Single Channel Unnecessarily

There’s nothing wrong with having a multi-channel social media strategy. In fact, it can work in your favour, helping you to target different demographics in different ways. But it’s important to realise that you don’t have to be everywhere if you don’t have the resources, strategy, time or creativity to really shine. If you do decide to branch out and extend your social reach on a different channel, make sure you’ve done your research. Is the channel relevant to your target audience? Do you know the style of the platform and do you have the content ideas to draw in a crowd? Can you outsource content creation to save time? Answer all of these questions before creating another business account. Again bosses and shareholders I’m talking to you… stop pressuring your social media managers to join every channel. That’s not how it works!

If you’re Gen-Z focussed and on Facebook, it might be best to switch up your efforts on TikTok as the Gen-Z follower rate is higher on this platform. Use stats to help you out and don’t get stuck in a rut.

#9 Posting Images on Instagram with Loads of Text 

Instagram is the perfect place to flaunt your photography skills. It’s all about the visual presentation. So don’t post awful JPEGs full of promo text. It looks horrible and won’t do you any favours when you’re popping up next to talented artists and creators. To rock Instagram, you must take pride in your appearance and think about each and every post. Top tips include:

  • Posting clear, crisp photos which make the most of natural lighting and clever photo editing. Avoid using flash as this can distort the lighting.
  • Leverage depth of field. This is essentially when the main subject of your photo is focussed on more than the environment.
  • Play around with angles to ensure the main features of a product are seen.
  • Use colours that complement each other.
  • Use ‘Burst Mode’ to get a clear picture of moving objects. Avoid posting anything blurry.
  • Make the most of white spaces to create a singular focus on your photo.
  • Imbed attractive graphics to announce events, promotions or giveaways.

When it comes to the caption, don’t waffle. Be concise and get to the point quickly using relevant keywords and hashtags. Also, be sure to tag any collaborators or relevant followers for improved brand awareness and exposure.

#10 Repeatedly DMing Bigger Sites Asking for Backlinks in their Articles

Mingling with the big boys will get you noticed. But you can’t just slot into the A Crowd unless you have something to offer. The same applies to links. We all want link juice from credible sites as it’s great for SEO, but don’t just go repeatedly DMing bigger sites for backlinks in their articles. That’s just downright cheeky and annoying. Instead, it’s important to offer absolutely brilliant content in return for a backlink. Do the research and groundwork that they don’t have time to do and you’re more likely to receive a welcoming response. Again, research is key here. If you’re targeting a top site, check what they’ve already posted so you don’t repeat an article title. Mimic the content style and make sure your content meets the needs of that particular audience.

Some of the DMs I’ve received asking for a backlink on our finance focused marketing site include:

  • Home decor and repairs companies with some DIY tips
  • Beauty bloggers and “influencers” wanting to link to a new lipstick
  • Competitor agencies
  • Sites with poorly written content
  • Kind Reminder (after 10 other DMs)

At least take the time to see who you’re DMing and adjust your offering accordingly. If you don’t get an answer then let it go.

Social media is a fast moving minefield and it’s easy to see how brands and brand leaders end up in hot water. Before you post, take a step back and apply some critical thinking to your content. Is it annoying or offensive? Will people want to see it in their feed? Is it on-brand? If you’re not sure then leave it in drafts.

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