Seven Sins of Social Media

These are in no special order. Some mistakes may have greater impact on one person than the other and we all dance to our own tune right? I’m also sure there are a lot more. Feel free to share yours in the comments section. Oh, and before plagiarism raises it’s ugly mug, yes, I did read the Wall Street Journal article.

Let’s start with plagiarism then. With so much information flowing on the internet it’s pretty hard to come up with a topic for discussion that isn’t already out there somewhere. So let’s say you see an article in the Wall St. Journal, which is a commentary on an article that they saw on

Does that mean they’ve said it all? Hardly. There are different viewpoints on everything and the beauty of social media is that everybody gets a chance to have their say in the conversation. In fact, as you start to peruse the conversations going on around you, you may quickly see that there are common threads in blogs, Twitter discussions etc that may have all had a common trigger. The key is to see an opportunity to present your own viewpoint and get some discussion going. If at all possible credit the source and show your perspective on the topic, leaving room for discussion with your friends and readers.

False starts
You get a lot of energy one day and go run amok among the social platforms creating profiles and posting comments and images all over the place. Then you never go back to these shiny bright profiles and add to them or participate in the discussions. Even if you really did mean to get involved and then got side-tracked, this makes a very clear statement that you are only putting a face on and not committed to the conversations going on. Better to only sign on to one or two platforms and be loyal than to have stale status messages pointing out that you’re not paying attention.

Blatant self promotion
It becomes clear very quickly when you post only self promotional content. Resist the urge to twist every conversation into a marketing opportunity. Participate, engage and add value by supplying information. THAT is what helps you establish credibility and develop relationships. Putting ads or self promotional content into the discussion only cheapens the experience for everybody.

Harvesting for spam
Social media makes it easy for you to find contact information for lots of potential clients. Already there are loads of tools you can use to locate email addresses and contact info for people who post in specific areas of interest on social media sites. Simply building a list and contacting people out of context can quickly get you blacklisted from their in-boxes. Spamming on sites like Twitter simply get’s you blocked by the recipients, or blocked by Twitter itself. Again, social media is about conversation. Pushing your solution down out throats is going to do more harm than good.

The babbling idiot in the corner
Everybody has heard the stories of people who gaily post their every thought to a site like Twitter or Utterz and share it with the world. Or the stories of people who stay up late into the night Twittering their brains out, only to realize just how drunk they were the next morning. Yes it’s good to get your personality into the communication and participate on a real level, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think before you speak.

Watch your mouth
On a similar note, watch what you say about competitors or presumed rivals. Just like high school turning on another blogger or attacking another poster can get ugly fast, and the repercussions long term. Flaming and attacks are just plain unacceptable. Remember, Google archives social media sites like Twitter really quickly. By the time you realize you’ve just alienated your customer base, it may be too late. Don’t say anything you don’t want to be public.

Fake profiles
There have been instances when a client approached us to create a public persona for them on social media sites, complete with pre-programmed discussions and even pre-programmed responses. This is a bad idea. Big corporations have done this and had it backfire in devastating ways. A good example was the fake blog Sony created as a way to promote the new PlayStation in a 2006 rollout campaign. They hired a blog team to write about how excited they were about the new release and how it would change their life. What it did in the end was make Sony stand up with egg on their faces and apologize.

Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn’t a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.

Bloggers around the world picked it up and the story of the shame got more press in the webosphere than the launch of the new PlayStation. Even the FTC took notice.

So bottom line? If you want to participate in social media you have to see the value. And the value is your participation.