Ashley Zeckman

20 Social Media Marketing Do’s & Don’ts

Social Media Do's & Don'ts

I think I just might!

It is no longer a question of IF companies should execute a social media strategy.  The question for most companies is HOW to best execute a meaningful and engaging approach that generates results.  With so many social media marketing options available, marketers must also decide best practices and what tactics to avoid.

We all make mistakes as marketers and it’s important that we not only learn from those mistakes but share  with others so that they can avoid them.  I hope that the 20 Social Media Marketing Do’s and Don’ts that I’ve provided within this article not only entertain you but make you think about your current social media strategy. Which tactics are you happy to say you’ve implemented and which mistakes will you admit to?

10 Social Media Marketing Do’s

#1: Save Time, Re-purpose Content.
While this is a great tactic it is important to be thoughtful about the way that you are re-using content.  Simply spitting out the same information over and over again will not work.  Be sure to change elements of your posts in order to either highlight different information within the post or target a different segment within your audience.

#2: Interaction is Where It’s At!
True interaction via social media can be a tough tactic for many marketers to master.  Finding the correct balance of self promotion and intriguing content that inspires action can be very instrumental in using social media appropriately.  Take some time to comment or interact with your current clients and prospective clients to show that you’re there, and you care about what they are saying.  A simple tactic is to ask questions that inspire a response.

#3: Try Multiple Media Types.
Social media users are interested in fresh new ways of presenting content and ways that they can share it with their networks.  In fact certain forms of media such as infographics or videos have a tendency to be much more sharable and appealing.  Try to incorporate some new media types into your social media content plan for the year.

#4: For Pete’s Sake! Make it Searchable.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you have some sort of optimization in place for your website.  Keep the same strategy in mind for your social media content.  If it can be searched it can be optimized.

#5: Keep Calm in a Crisis
The last thing you need is your social media intern “Sarah” having a meltdown at the first sign of something unfavorable being said about your brand on social media.  By keeping a level head and having an emergency preparedness plan ready should disaster strike you will be able to calmly and rationally tackle the issue.  P.S. Ignoring it doesn’t count as a plan.

#6: Customize the Flow
If you’re like us you have multiple audience members to provide information to online.  This could be different verticals or even different departments within a single organization.  Do your homework,  what sites do your different audience members participate in and what topics are of importance to them?

#7: Don’t Let Just Anyone Represent Your Brand
In the past some companies have encouraged all team members to participate in the promotion of their brands because they worked under the notion that more was better.  False.  While you don’t want to discourage interaction or squash the dreams of your team it is important that the voice of your social media strategy represents who you are and what you believe in as a company.  Trish from accounting that posts on her social network about the copious amounts of alcohol consumed Tuesday night and the terrible time she’s having at work the next day may not be the best resource for networking your company.

#8: What Was the Purpose of This Again?
Remember why you’re using social media in the first place.  By setting a set of realistic and attainable goals you will be able to test what works and what doesn’t and adapt your online marketing strategy from there.

#9: Pull Out the Tool Box and Find Your Measuring Tape
If you create a beautiful piece of furniture but can’t fit it through the front door what was the point?  The same applies to your online strategy.  I don’t want to discourage planning big but make sure that you have an effective means of measuring your success in order to identify the true ROI of your online marketing strategy.

#10: Be Innovative, or at Least Open to Innovation
You don’t have to be cutting edge to run a successful social media program.  However, it doesn’t hurt to have your eyes and ears open to the latest trends.  Experiment with your strategy to find new and interesting ways to present the same information to your networks.

10 Social Media Marketing Don’ts 

#1: Hello? Is Anyone Listening?
One of the worst things that you can do is ignore your audience.  I shared an example last week of ChapStick’s reaction to unfavorable responses from their network.  Deleting information or simply refusing to answer are a big marketing fail.

#2:Have You Ever Tried to Have a Conversation With a Robot?
If you are like me, at one time or another you’ve found yourself screaming at the automated help desk for your credit card company beyond frustrated that you couldn’t speak with a live representative.  Try to spare your online audience of the same exasperation and create thoughtful and conversational content.  Leave the robots for the other guys.

#3: I Know You Are But What Am I?
As we’ve said before it is difficult if not impossible to take things back once you’ve said them online.  There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with audience members, colleagues, or competitors but there is no need to be impolite.  If you take a do unto others approach you will save yourself and your company a lot of damage control.

#4: Accounts Covered in an Inch of Dust.
You did some research and found 10 new social networking platforms that your company is not signed up for.  You assign a task to your marketing team to sign up for these accounts, and unfortunately that is as far as it goes.  If you cannot commit to utilizing a platform on a regular basis and setting it up in a way that clearly represents your brand then what is the point.  Don’t do it just to do it.

#5: One Size Does Not Fit All.
All social media sites are not created equal.  As marketers we must consider not only the type of interaction that typically happens on a given platform but also the audience we are trying to reach with that platform.  If your social strategy for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all exactly the same you may want to reconsider your plan.

#6: The Nameless &  Faceless Group from Company XYZ
In order to make friends online you need to be friendly.  Part of being friendly means adding a personal note to your social media profiles.  Snap some impromptu photos around the office and share a little bit about some of the key team members.  This is an instance where a little bit of extra effort can go a long way.

#7: Taking Your Relationship To the Next Step.
Romancing your prospects does not end at gaining them as followers.  Sure they’ve signed up to receive updates on your company but is that really enough?If your ultimate goal is to gain them as new clients then it is important to have a personalized and meaningful flow of communication that sets next steps in the relationship.  An example would be recommending that you have a phone conversation or possibly meet in person to discuss some business opportunities.

#8: We Really Care About You.  Just Kidding.
Spending countless time and effort to engage with prospects only to abandon them is a completely useless tactic.  Handle these relationships with the same care that you would your other business relationships.

#9: We Have No Idea What is Important To You.
Our company is great, we have so much to offer you, hire us now!  I consider each of these to be obnoxious and pitiful tactics for engaging followers.  Instead of utilizing your platform as a means for marketing your products and services try instead to offer information that can help solve the business problem of your prospects.

#10: What Are All of These Followers For Anyways?
Now that you’ve built up this community of online followers what can you use it for?  Your online community is a great resource for crowdsourcing content and brainstorming ideas.  If you want to gather a set of your own statistics why not go to your online community and ask them to participate in a study or survey and share the results with everyone.

I know that a lot of these tips may seem like no brainers to you some of you, but in the fast changing world of social media, mistakes can have a significant impact.

I’m curious to know if you have any other “no brainer” social media tactics that you’d like to share?  They can be funny, insightful, pretty much anything you want as long as they’re true.  I look forward to laughing, cringing, and sighing with you.  If you have a moment to fill out the survey below I’d love to get some feedback from you regarding this post and your personal experience with social media marketing.

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. No brainers to some, but we still see these mistakes being made. There are right and wrong ways to do this, so this totally worth sharing. One thing I’ll add: DON’T believe the ‘free’ myth; DO understand that social, done right, will take an investment of time, work and money. (Which is where #8 and #9 come in, the strategy and ROI). FWIW.

    • I agree completely. While there may be no investment made in software or additional staff in order to execute a social media strategy there will be investments that need to be made.

  2. Being successful in social media requires “social” interaction.  It isn’t a one way street.  In order to get anything out of it you have to be willing to spend a log of time giving back as well.

  3. Basically be human and don’t try shortcuts (not to be confused with time savers) 😉

  4. Thanks for reading Cayleigh. I tried to make it both entertaining and informative.

  5. Great post. Many people/organizations are trying to figure out a role for social media in their overall communication mix. I recently authored a blog post that raises 6 questions you should answer before plunging into a major investment in social media. I think it compliments what you wrote fairly well. If you’d like to read it and comment on it, here is the link –

  6. Avatar canada goose says

    Nice piece, Adam. I just wrote a related story about why the AP Stylebook editors decided to make this change. I talked to The New York Times’ David Pogue and other journalists for their reaction:

  7. Lists make everything easier! Great pointers I think we are all guilty of some of these, but like you said as long as we learned from our mistakes. I think one important point you brought up was to have a crisis plan. This is almost as important has finding bad reviews. chatmeter brings the reviews to you and we feel that not responding to a negative review is very damaging. If you have a plan that at least addresses the issue of the negative review, hopefully it will not be as damaging to your online reputation.

  8. Thanks for the tips. Definitely useful. Content strategy is very important for an effective social media marketing campaign. Marketers should pay special attention to the right kind of content – engaging as well as informative.

  9.  Awesome post,Really effective content about social media.Your post are really helpful for those who have use social media marketing and also useful for us.Very informative post.

  10. As much as I would love to think I never make any of these mistakes I have to
    confess to signing up for social media accounts and then forgetting I even did
    that. As far as your other tips, I agree all great guidelines that everyone
    should follow and for the most part we do all of them I am happy to say.

  11. Avatar Leanne kilheeney says

    Great tips. I personally hate when brands try to sell sell sell through there social networks, its so predictable, so impersonal and so rude. Apparently 2012 will see the rise in brands becoming more personable, I would love to start seeing more brands using twitter to speak directly to there consumers- theres nothing worse than being ignored by a robot. 
    For more information on 2012’s “human brands’ trend see -

  12. There are STILL so many businesses not engaging with their ‘fans’ or ‘followers’ in the correct way. Make use of ‘Insights’ for Facebook Pages to check how successful your posts really were.

  13. It’s really effective for do’s & don’ts while participating social
    media marketing. Here is finding the good social interaction for
    everyone. Nice to share here. Thanks!

  14. Brilliant info Ashley – bookmarked – this is what I have been looking for 🙂

  15. The most successful social media.  EVER!

  16. Avatar Pinnacle Plans says

    Awesome post! Great list of do’s and dont’s. Now I just have to make sure I dont do any dont’s and do lot of do’s!

  17. Avatar Christina Damiano says

    Thank you for a great article Ashley! These types of lists are always so helpful and good to refer back to, whether you are a novice or a seasoned professional. We all need to be reminded.