9 ways to lose friends and alienate people in social media

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Worst practices in social media

In 1936, Dale Carnegie published his seminal book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Unfortunately, too few brands are following Carnegie's timeless advice when engaging in social media. Rather, they're ignoring tried-and-true communication principles -- simple but brilliant ideas such as "give honest and sincere appreciation." As such, many companies are at risk of turning off their followers and pushing away the people on whom their survival depends.

I've written extensively on best business practices in social media for iMedia Connection in the past, but I've never dealt with anything resembling "worst practices." Always up for a challenge, I tackled the subject with vim and vigor. As it turns out, there are plenty of examples out there of brands that have gone down the wrong path with their social media interactions. 

Based on my experience and research, I've organized a comprehensive list of "social media worst practices" into nine basic categories: philosophy, platform optimization, voice, content, generosity, velocity, administration, training, and commitment. For each category, I'll provide a bit of context with highlights, resource articles, and real-world examples. So without further ado, let's look at the nine most common ways that brands are losing friends and alienating people in social media.



Janelle Urchenko
Janelle Urchenko October 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Great overview. Thank you for emphasizing the need to involve all stakeholders in supporting your social media strategy. A variety of perspectives should help you to generate ideas that more fully encompass your organization's needs, and cross-team buy-in will help provide intertia when the going gets tough.

@jon, perhaps you're looking at the wrong 'kent' on twitter? This article was written by @kentjlewis...

Jon Herman
Jon Herman October 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM

@Kent, this is one of the most oddly written articles. The content of the article is great and I can say I truly agree with all of it. But when looking at your twitter account, you only seem to follow 11 people and don't appear all that "social" except to feed content from others.

Just trying to understand how your POV on your actions vs. some very strong statements against others?

Spencer Broome
Spencer Broome October 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Agree with Nick.

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis October 5, 2011 at 10:06 AM

I can't stand companies that use their Facebook page or Twitter account as another ad space. That's not the point! While there is nothing wrong with a promotional message every now and again, it should never be the bulk of your messages.