We’re currently in the golden age of social media. Almost everybody is online in one way or another. While the ubiquity of social media and internet sharing offers endless advantages, with sharing becoming a popular alternative to traditional marketing, it also presents a problem – if you mess up, the stakes can be much higher than ever before. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the big social media failures of companies and individuals. After all, as George Santayana once said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Quality over quantity

One issue which can quickly become a problem for inexperienced social media marketing efforts is getting the regularity of posting right. As with most anything in business, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ rule in place. Before you hit that post button, you should be looking into a couple of things which will help you understand what your audience wants to see – and how often they want to see it:

• What’s trending? Is any of it relevant to you or your business?
• Where is your audience from, and at what times are they most active on your chosen social media platforms?
• From experimentation, how do post length, time, and regularity affect the reach of your content?
• How does the number of posts per day affect your interaction?

In the end, this entire section can be summed up in a single sentence: give your readers what they want, when they want it, and avoid spamming their news feeds!

Censorship

Freedom of speech on the internet is an enormous topic right now. Even if you ferociously defend people’s right to free speech online, you need to remember one thing – anything you share on social media can (and will) be used against you. As an individual, it may harm your future employment prospects; as a business owner, it could run you into the ground. Rapper Azealia Banks seems to have had a baptism of fire in this regard, with a recent racist rant causing her to be dropped from the line-up of multiple festivals that she had been booked for.

While that is an extreme example, there are more innocent variants of companies and individuals making light of a situation – and it coming back to bite them in the rear – such as American Apparel’s disastrous marketing campaign during Hurricane Sandy.

Relevance

When you’re trying to use social media for promotion purposes, it is all too easy to get distracted – and the share button beneath that funny image of a turtle is all too easy to hit. Before you know it, you have upset customers or simply confused regular readers, and neither are desirable outcomes. Your social media accounts should be on-topic, engaging, and organized. Sharing random items from your news feed may hit the mark once in a while, but as a long-term strategy, it is simply setting you up for failure. As with most marketing strategies, relevance should be a priority.

Common sense should prevail

While the three fails that we have listed above is a good starting point for newbie social media marketers, they’re not the only potential pitfalls you might encounter. In the end, what you share online can quickly be passed around by just about anybody with an internet connection – and that can be amazingly helpful or horrendously damaging. With a little common sense and by erring on the side of caution, you can ensure that you avoid the latter!