10 Social Media Blunders that Can Destroy Your Brand

Hot off of speaking at Small Business Marketing Unleashed, I’ve been thinking a lot about the both the best use and the abuse of social media. After listening to my extremely talented peers speak on the subject, it occurred to me that I sometimes take for granted that people know the best practices of using web 2.0 to build their businesses.

But even this week I’ve seen nuclear fail moments, so I thought it be best to share the top ten ways to destroy your brand with social media.

Do the Hard Sell

If you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or mingling with other bloggers and pitching your product, the door will slam in your face fast. There are places on the internet for pitches and sales – appropriate places, even, like in press releases, landing pages, and Google AdSense ads. The pitch isn’t welcome here – and it’s sad to see that some people still haven’t figured that out by now.

Leave blog comments that are really “Adverquestions” or “Introtisements”

There’s a chapter in Patrick O’Keefe’s great new book Managing Online Forums dedicated to managing this kind of person. The bottom line is 1 – it’s cheesy and people see right through you. And 2 – it will get you moderated and banned if you keep it up.

Hide your true intentions

All I can think of is the backlash that the big brands have experienced when they secretly hired people to evangelize products or companies. Think Sony, Wal-Mart, Zipatoni. Whoops.

Stoop to the level of attacks for the sole purpose of getting attention

I have no respect for people who have so little writing talent that the best linkbait they can come up with is an attack on another blogger. Darren Rowse has his own personal Troll, and half of this Troll’s posts are dedicated to trying to discredit him or insult him. Then he complains that his blog isn’t as successful as Darren’s blog… Hmmm… let’s just think about that for a second…

Submit every single post you’ve ever read (or written) to social bookmarking sites

In case you haven’t noticed, the communities around social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Propeller & Mixx are pretty smart and savvy people. Bombarding these sites with mediocre content will pretty much guarantee that you’ll get ignored, blocked, or both.

Solicit votes for every single post you’ve ever submitted to social bookmarking sites

Please, for the love of God, if you are going to pound the pavement to promote a post, you’d better dang well make sure that it’s your best work. I love to support people who occasionally Twitter a great, quality bookmarked link. But I’m not willing to vote on stuff and fill up my own voting profile with garbage. We all have a reputation to manage here.

Be a copycat

Leaders in the blogosphere & in social media are there for one main reason – they are thought leaders, trailblazers, & original thinkers. If you’re constantly filling up your blog with “Me Too” posts or even worse, stealing content by “rewriting” it, then guess what? Your brand is pretty much destroyed already, because you never had one to begin with.

Be a friend whore

I’ve seen this especially on StumbleUpon and Twitter, where people just go indiscriminately adding strangers as friends – usually adding up to thousands. And then they usually proceed to spam these people. Not only this is the pond scum of the social media ecosystem, it might even get your IP address banned from the service.

Show up as a company spokesperson, brand representative, sales executive, or anything else other than simply showing up as a real human being

The most important point I made in my presentation at Unleashed is that if you are going to show up in the Web 2.0 community for business reasons, show up as a person first. People don’t want to connect with brands, companies, or products. People want to connect with people.

Walk like a duck & quack like a duck

If you associate yourself too closely with anyone who is doing the above, you might as well kiss your own brand goodbye too. The internet is too easily abused, and people will likely assume that you are in cahoots with the offending duck (or will even assume you are the same ‘duck’ under a different pseudonym).

So don’t be a sitting duck – pluck up your integrity and stay far, far away.

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  1. says

    You are right, spamming to social bookmarking sites is so unprofessional. Thus who risk to get banned from sites like digg clearly does not understand the potentials of the sites.

  2. says

    LOVED your post. I work a lot in social networking and have to say thanks for bringing to light all those shady little things people do to try and get noticed. Summed up, quality content that is interesting to your customer base will always pay off in the long run.


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