Social Media: 12 tips to prevent problem posts

Written by Keith Errington  |  9, February, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

social-media-problem-postsIf you’ve been following this blog, you’ll see that we’ve been taking you through the steps required for the successful use of social media, from developing a strategy through to the nuts and bolts of making a post.

So we’re ready to post some stuff – right? Nope. There’s one very important thing left to do – think!

Social media not only has the unfortunate capacity to remember your ill-thought out post, but also to spread it far and wide. Post something problematic and the Internet will ensure it’s preserved forever to haunt your dreams and remind you of that fateful day.

So it’s vitally important you do everything you can to mitigate that risk.

Here are 12 tips to avoid problem posts.

1) Take a minute (or two)

Once you have written your post, take a minute to read it and think about what you’ve written and whether you could make it more effective. Krista Neher of Bootcamp Digital suggests; “Spend at least two minutes thinking about how to make a post better before posting it”

Then think about how ALL the different readers of the post might react to what you have written. And always have at the back of your mind what you are trying to achieve with the post and ask yourself; “Is this post likely to achieve that goal?”

2) Watch your tone

It’s always important to have the appropriate tone of voice when communicating in social media channels, but it is also important not to be patronising or too clever. People do not like to be made to look – or be made to feel – stupid. Read your post – are you coming across as a ‘know-it-all’? Or perhaps you are pointing out the obvious? Try to re-word the post so it gives the same message without the patronising tone. After all, nobody likes a smart-arse.

3) Be positive

I’ve written this in a previous post – but it is so important I’m repeating it again here. No follower or fan likes negative posts and it conveys a poor image of your brand, product, and or organisation. Make it a golden rule – never post anything negative.

4) Don’t boast or brag

Whilst being positive is good, overtly boasting or bragging is not good. There are always subtler ways of communicating success, which will ultimately prove more effective. (If you really want to brag – try getting a customer to say how wonderful you are).

5) Avoid TMI and keep it clean

The modern malaise on social media is over-sharing – learning things about your friends or family you would really rather not know. Or reading about someone’s particular issue or obscure hobby in so much detail you’ve fallen asleep. So avoid TMI – Too Much Information – cut out anything repetitive or that goes into an inappropriate level of detail for your audience.

Is this post within the bounds of decency and taste? Are you likely to be breaking any laws – libel, slander, copyright, etc?

6) Don’t be cryptic

Cryptic or “clever” headlines are a pain – people will not take the time to get the joke. What’s worse is that these types of puns make a post almost invisible to search engines. And it’s yet another example of being too clever.

7) Don’t post angry

Don’t post when you are angry – take time to calm down and think about what you are going to say. I find it sometimes helps to write down what I really want to say in lots of detail, read it and nod to myself satisfyingly… and then delete what I’d written. (I’d then go on to post a logical, reasonable, non-patronising and on-brand, positive reply). Always check yourself to see if your current state of mind is colouring your approach to the post. Try and be as objective as you can and make sure that your post won’t actually be making a situation worse.

And it should go without saying that you shouldn’t post whilst under the influence of… well, anything really.

8) It’s all in the timing

Is it the right time for this post? Would it be better later in the day, or later in the week? Check the news and media – has it become overtaken by developments? If you wait, will you have a better story to tell?

9) Give me the facts

Check your facts – if you are making a statement about your product or service, or responding to a question, check and double check your facts. Go to a reliable source for verification. It is all too easy to look stupid when posting a fact from memory. You also need to check that you aren't revealing some information you shouldn't. A yet-to-be released product, something covered by a non-disclosure agreement, confidential client information and the like.

10) THINK before you post

There is a popular acronym to help you think before you post – conveniently it is actually T.H.I.N.K. – so look at your post and consider;
T is it True?
H is it Helpful?
I is it Inspiring?
N is it Necessary?
K is it Kind?

11) Your drafts aren’t precious

Don’t be afraid to abandon your post before posting, even though you’ve spent a good hour researching, looking for images, checking facts and honing your copy. You will spend a lot longer regretting it if the post causes a problem. Never think ‘but it took me so long to compose’, if it’s not right, it’s not worth it. I know I have deleted many a post just before the final decision. I’ve never regretted doing that once.

12) If in doubt…

Which leads me to my last point; if you are in any doubt – don’t post. By all means think about it, discuss it with colleagues or appropriate others, but don’t post if you have ANY doubts.

Free tip sheet: how to set a social media policy

Topics: Social Media

Keith Errington

Written by Keith Errington

Keith has a unique mix of talents and experience in marketing and communications. He writes regularly for the Equinet blog on marketing, social media, and strategy.