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Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media for Business

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Go to Google or another search engine of choice and enter the phrase, “seven deadly sins of social media.” You will get several pages of results. Today, we add one more result to the SERPs. This is a popular topic, for good reason. It isn’t because digital marketing bloggers have run out of ideas. It’s because we keep seeing the same transgressions being made on a regular basis. Like other professionals in our industry, we want every business – small, medium or big – to walk the righteous path and avoid the road to perdition. Consider this our good work of the week!


Funny young man with big head screaming emotionally in megaphone

Constantly boasting in your postings about how great your business is will not engage potential customers. Neither will frequently asking for people to retweet or share your posts. There’s a line to balance to avoid tipping over to narcissism. People want to know they’re getting the best, but you can tout your company’s competitive advantages while keeping the focus on your target audience and their needs. How do all of the advantages your business offers improve their life in some way?

As a blog post on Array Digital puts it, “Do you enjoy being sold to or do you want to make the decision on your own? Constantly promoting the latest products and services your business has to offer is a quick and easy way to lose followers. Social media should enhance your brand’s credibility and attract leads in gradually. Being too sales-focused is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make on social media. Work on building a good reputation and loyal fan base by sharing information without expecting a sale in return.”

Another manifestation of this social media sin is refusing to admit a mistake. Whether a dissatisfied customer posts a complaint or your business has made the local news (or worse yet, national news) for a serious transgression, not owning up to your responsibility and pledging to make it right can damage your reputation. When your defensive attitude becomes aggressive and abusive, it escalates into Wrath.

Instead, as we always advise, work to resolve the issue when a customer posts about a negative experience. Again, from Array Digital, “In doing so, you show the public that you care about your customers and the integrity of your company.”


Despair and stress for spam e-mailAs we covered in our blog post – “Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid” – business social media accounts that have post-after-post promoting a product, sale or offer come across as spammy. As we always say, it’s called social media for a reason. The purpose is to engage members of your target audience, not constantly bombard them with sales pitches. Too much self-promotion can also get you blocked on Twitter by businesses you follow, simply because they consider your account low-value and a nuisance.

Even aside from sales pitches, we’ve seen businesses that crank out several posts a day, without discernible reason. As RepBright founder Erin Jones writes for Search Engine Journal, “They spend so much time pumping out social media posts that their audience stops seeing the value … Overindulgence is not only distasteful to others, but it will also make clients question your ‘why’ and will annoy your peers.”

Choose quality posts over quantity. Focus on creating engaging content that’s of interest to your target audience, and they’ll not only follow your accounts, they’ll visit your website and take a look around – and might even buy something!

Greed and Lust

These two sins are closely related, as “lust” doesn’t have its typical meaning in this context (assuming that your enterprise is family-friendly), so we’ll cover both here.

Cute KittenDo you want your posts to get as many likes as possible, no matter what it takes? Posting content that’s not in keeping with your brand, brand voice or business pillars is ultimately counterproductive. Our Virtual Stacks Systems team could happily post cute cat videos and memes on our company’s own social media accounts every day, and they’d probably get plenty of likes. But how many of those who click on that little thumbs-up or heart icon would really be seeking digital marketing services? Ask yourself if you want to entertain random people, or attract leads to your website and start building relationships that convert to sales.

Not giving back to your followers is another expression of greed. Posting special offers and discounts keep existing customers engaged and loyal, as well as attract new customers. You don’t have to give away the store, but let customers know that you value them!

Also avoid the temptation to buy followers. As social media professional Jennie Ahlgren writes for Pace, “Which would you rather have: 15K social media users who know and use your products and are interested in new and exciting things your brand is doing or 100K followers who couldn’t distinguish your products from your competitors’? We think the answer should be simple, but so often we see brands spending money to artificially grow their social media followings.”

Obvious Watermark ThiefAnd never steal content from other websites or social media accounts! Passing off someone else’s work as your own is called “plagiarism.” According to LegalZoom, plagiarism is not a criminal or civil offense, but is illegal if it infringes an author’s intellectual property rights, including copyright or trademark. By the way, college professor Stephanie Morrow is the author of this informative LegalZoom article, so we want to be sure she gets proper acknowledgement!

Besides, as we just did for Ms. Morrow, attributing content to the author means that you can link to the source material, and perhaps to the author’s Twitter account so you can tag the author in your social media post promoting your own blog post. You’ve probably noticed we do that a lot around here. The people we tag often show their appreciation with a “like” or become a follower. Doing the right thing is a win-win situation!



Young girl with a sour face suspiciously looking awayAlways an unflattering emotion, envy as expressed through your company’s social media has the opposite effect of what you intended. Instead of making your business look better and elevating it to a higher level, it will only give you an image of pettiness and desperation. Using your social posts to bash competitors (even if you don’t name them, your audience gets the reference) puts you in an unbecoming light.

Focusing on your direct competitors will make members of your target audience assume that your competitors are more successful than your business – and will wonder why. By emphasizing your own strengths and competitive advantages, you’ll look like the industry leader!

While this next example may not exactly be in the Envy category, it happens frequently enough to rate a mention. Trying to get attention by latching on to a trending hashtag is a move that has the effect of attempting to fit in with the “cool kids” in school. If the trending topic is unrelated to your business or industry, including the hashtag with your posts will have no positive effect.

A note of caution for these times: Unless your business is in the healthcare industry or offers a product or service that is in demand due to COVID-19, using the hashtags #COVID-19, #coronavirus, #CoronavirusOutbreak or any variation thereof gives the strong impression that you’re exploiting a catastrophic situation. You may get attention, but it will be the wrong kind. Current customers could be so offended that they become former customers.


Angry on the InternetMuch has already been written for our humble blog about the dangers of wrath. Social posts that are insulting and abusive toward a competitor, any other individual or promote a controversial point of view will cost you business and damage your reputation. As Jones writes, “Remember, one ridiculous public rant will cancel out decades of respectable business practices.”

Yes, we follow the news here. Emotions are running high, and the temptation to vent on your business social media accounts may be great. At this time in particular, it’s more important to think of your customers and do all you can to meet their needs and give them a sense of normalcy.

As for how to deal with negative customer remarks and reviews on your social accounts, we respectfully refer you to our blog posts – “Providing Quality Customer Service on Social Media” – and “The Bottom Line About Online Reputation Management.” Read it. Learn it. Live it.


There are many ways to not do something, so there are many forms that Sloth can take. Here are some of the most common.

  • Sloth animal office worker pop art vectorReposting the same content frequently while seldom providing new posts. There’s definitely a place for “evergreen” posts, but keep topics and graphics fresh.
  • Not interacting with your audience. As Brian Basilico – founder and president of B2b Interactive Marketing Inc. – writes for Business 2 Community, “It’s being too lazy to actually engage with people. You just want to post and run.”
  • Having inactive accounts open. This makes your business look unprofessional. Close them, or use them and post on a regular basis.
  • Incomplete profiles. Array Digital notes that not filling in your profile with information about your company misses an opportunity to “… make a positive and memorable impression on potential customers … Most people search online for companies before doing business with them. Don’t give them a reason to go to your competitors because you didn’t take the time to add a profile picture, company description, and contact information.”
  • Not keeping up with industry news – or world, national or local news, for that matter. Your social media posts – and blog posts – will make you look clueless and out-of-touch if there’s a development or situation that needs to be addressed. For example, now is not the right time to reference carefree vacation travel.
  • Not fact-checking or verifying source content for accuracy or timeliness.
  • Not proofreading, which allows errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation to get through.


Don’t give in to temptation

Taking time to think through your social media strategy will make you a social media winner instead of a sinner! So will partnering with the right digital marketing agency. Virtual Stacks Systems offers social media marketing, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, PPC advertising, review management services and much more!

Contact us today to get started!



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