Social media faux pas and staying on top of platform changes

Social media moves quickly. Platforms are constantly changing, being acquired, and drawing inspiration from one another. Twitter increased its character count from 140 to 280 late last year. Snapchat redesigned its user interface earlier this year, adding sponsorships and a newsfeed (this actually resulted in a loss of millions of daily users). Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012 and added Stories in 2016—which caused their popularity to lap Snapchat’s daily user count of 191 million users, with a total of 400 million people.

Needless to say, it can be exhausting to follow social media’s changes and embrace them appropriately. If you blink, it’s quite possible to miss a new trend or norm. Missing these changes can be detrimental to the perception of your brand—and can lead to common social media faux pas.

All of this causes some people to go down a dark path, so here are some suggestions to conquer those issues and build a strong social media presence.

Faux pas 1: Recycling the same content for each platform

This is so extremely common, we get it and we do it too sometimes! It’s much more time efficient to post the same photo and the same caption to every platform. There are only so many hours in the day, and who wants to spend them tweaking captions? To put it bluntly, doing this will give your customers no incentive to follow all of your channels.

Remedy: Tweak your captions for each platform. Take extra photos to use on different platforms so you can provide your followers with unique perspectives.

Faux pas 2: Platform misuse

Again, it’s hard to stay on top of social media etiquette—what’s okay and what’s not? This results in breaking unspoken rules. Staying on top of this requires that you learn from other brands—both good and bad practices. Here are a few misuses:

  • You’ve got a story to tell and want to tell everyone. For example, Instagram was designed to share images and built to be used on a phone. Putting text on a screen that’s less than 3 inches across can be very overwhelming. You want your message to be delivered in seconds—don’t rely on your customers trying to zoom, etc.
  • Know the nuances of your platforms. For example, hashtags are a common thing in the social world. However, they are not interactive or used on all platforms. Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn—yes. Facebook—no.

Remedy: Observe how other brands use platforms. For visual-heavy platforms, use the caption box for your written content. You can still get your point across, but in a more platform and user-friendly way.

Faux pas 3: Forgetting your audience

Each generation seems to be attracted to certain platforms more than others. Using the wrong platform can waste time and assets. If you create a campaign for a specific platform when your core audience is using a different platform, you may miss your mark. For example, if you’re targeting people over 50 years old, you should most likely use YouTube or Facebook —as over 50% report using those platforms regularly. Instagram would not be as fitting, as only 16% in that age group report using the platform according to Pew Research Center.

Remedy: Consider your audience before you decide on the channels you’ll use. If you’ve run campaigns on a certain platform, check the performance. If you haven’t, look at industry research and your competitors. Observing who is engaging with certain content can give you a good foundation.

Faux pas 4: Using QR codes instead of a URL

Let’s be honest—QR codes are great for airplane boarding passes. Not necessarily a flyer. When QR codes first came on the marketing scene, they were the shiny new thing that helped show you were in the “know.” But no one really explained to every person how to use them.

I was in a Masters Marketing course when the professor mentioned QR codes. I must have had quite the look on my face when he asked my take. I gave my opinion and out of curiosity asked the class of students who knew all about them: “How many of you have actually used a QR code?” Out of a lecture class of 50 to 60 marketing students, two people raised their hands. I asked what they used them for. One person said, “I wasn’t interested in the product, I just wanted to see how it worked.” A practice that we should, in theory, have all been immersed in, was not the case at all.

This not to say they do not have a purpose. For example, they have a functional purpose for things like tickets or Lime scooters.

Remedy: Include a website or social handles with a call to action.

Faux pas 5: Squatting on a handle, establishing your profile and not using it

I get claiming your handle. It ensures that no one else snags it. But posting once or twice a year doesn’t give your followers an incentive to do just that—follow. They may see that you haven’t posted in months and make the move to unfollow you.

Remedy: Claim social media handles and really invest in posting to platforms that work for your business. It may not make sense for you to post to Twitter now, or you may not have the manpower, but perhaps that’s something that can change in the future. You may not need it today, but having a foundation of followers laid can be helpful when that time comes.

Faux pas 6: Using auto-posting features

There are apps and platforms that allow for simultaneous posting. For example, Instagram and Twitter have a feature that lets you post on Instagram and have a link immediately tweeted. Thus, your Instagram caption is copied over, but there’s no visual. How many times have you clicked on an Instagram URL in a tweet to go check out the photo? Using this capability can also cause faux pas like hashtag misuse.

Remedy: Take the extra time to manually write captions and include visuals. Your customer avoids having to go to a different platform to see your content. As for hashtags, customizing captions for all platforms will ensure you use hashtags on the appropriate platforms.

Faux pas 7: Posting too much—or not at all

Be careful not to turn followers off, but remind them that you’re there for them. There’s a balance. For example, some Instagram profiles will post nine images in a row so that when you go to their profile, you see one large image on your screen as opposed to snippets. In theory, it’s cool. But think about what you just did to your follower’s feed. Instead of seeing your content peppered through their feed, they see an explosion of your posts that make no sense out of context. I will admit, I’ve unfollowed accounts who practice this.

Remedy: Be deliberate with your posting. Creating a schedule may be tedious, but will help you constantly feed the beast while holding you accountable for posting.

Acknowledging the fast pace of social media and the ever-changing landscape is the first step in becoming a social media expert. Following the changes will help you conquer a great social media plan and put you on the path to publishing a better social feed.