Shady Social Media Practices

Courtesy of Marshaü, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_shadow.jpg

Whether you are hiring a professional or managing social media yourself, here’s a list of some shady practices you want to avoid:

  • Running unauthorized contests on Facebook. Facebook has very specific rules about how you can promote your business through giveaways. All contests must be run through third party apps, such as EasyPromos.
  • Creating fake personas on Facebook. According to Facebook’s rules, you aren’t allowed to have more than one Facebook profile. If you get caught doing this, you could have your accounts suspended. On Twitter, you CAN have multiple accounts, which you use for different purposes. But it’s still better not to use a fake name. If, for some reason, you don’t want your name on the account, use the organization or business name instead.
  • Buying likes and followers. It’s hard to believe anyone still does this, but apparently some people still think this works. Buying likes and followers will inflate your numbers but it won’t bring you customers or people interested in what you have to say.
  • Stealing other people’s content. Don’t copy an entire article from another source, even if you give attribution, unless you have been given permission. Otherwise, quote some of the article and add a link for those who want to read the rest. Stealing images from others is problematic as well. Use only Creative Commons pictures, and even then, link back or attribute to the original source. When citing a link, it’s best to include a hat tip or “via” to the person who pointed it out to you, even if it’s not his original content.
  • Too much automation. It’s OK to schedule posts, but if everything in your feed is automatic, potential followers will realize this quickly and go elsewhere for engagement.
  • Posting fake comments. Putting up fake comments all written by you on blog posts or social media feeds is not going to fool anyone. An article on an unknown website with a million comments is clearly just a trick. You can’t have a discussion with yourself, and anyone who would have left a real comment will run the other way.

Social media marketing is based on the idea that companies and organizations show their true personal selves to their audience. If you’re not real, or your real personality is distasteful, you will achieve exactly the opposite of what you intended. Think twice before you engage in shady practices. If you hire a professional, make sure that he is the kind of person you want representing your organization. For more advice on hiring web professionals, see 10 Web Professionals You Should NEVER Hire.

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