It's well known by marketers and business owners that social media networks are good places to build a brand and spread information about an organization. Nearly every business in America has some sort of social media presence and more join every day. Another emerging trend is the growing use of social media by CEOs, business owners and professionals to build their personal brand. Think of big names like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Donald Trump whose personal tweets are read and analyzed by the media. Using social media to build a personal brand is effective, but there are certain things that business owners must avoid doing if they intend to use a social media channel with their name to promote a business or brand. Here are the seven deadly sins of social media marketing that could kill your brand or online reputation.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media

  1. Mix business and pleasure
    Once a business owner decides to use their personal social media channel to promote their brand or services, they need to be consistent and only use the account for professional purposes from then on. To illustrate, the president of a university can't use a Twitter account to talk to students and faculty and then use the same account to try and get a date. The latter action, while personal, would still end up reflecting badly on the school. A good example of what can go wrong can be seen through the fall of Anthony Weiner. His political career ended when his racy photos on Twitter became public knowledge.
  2. Get Political
    Business owners should also do their best to avoid political issues on social media accounts that are linked to their company. In politics, there's a saying that "people vote with their feet", suggesting that people move to the places they find politically acceptable. Increasingly, people are "voting with their wallets"as more people consider the political leanings of a business when deciding where to shop, eschewing places that go against their ideals. There are even apps that shoppers can use that rank companies on certain criteria to determine their political leaning. The best way to avoid losing customers from either side to this phenomenon is to remain neutral.
  3. Get Religious
    Similar to politics, religion is a hornets nest that business owners should avoid upsetting when on social media. There are a lot of faiths in the world, and even people who share the same faith on paper may differ in their beliefs on how it should be practiced. A well-meaning comment from a business owner can spark a huge controversy if it's taken out of context or someone is offended by the remark when taken in context. It's easy to say it's no big deal, but remember that people take their faiths very seriously. In deference to that regard, it's best to leave religious topics alone, save for the usual greetings around major holidays.
  4. Overreact
    Business owners and marketers who are using social media for the first time in order to promote their business, or interacting with the general public through social media for the first time, have to quickly adapt to the negative nature that accompanies much of the engagement on social networks. It's important to not overreact to rudeness or negative comments from people on the social channel. If a business owner loses their cool inside a physical store, it's only seen by the people who happen to be there at the time. With social media, an overaction can go viral and cause a lot of damage to a brand or a person's online reputation.
  5. Rant and Rave
    Business owners and marketers shouldn't use their company-linked social accounts to rant or rave about things (maybe in a satirical manner, and even that's risky because no one ever gets satire). First, it creates a negative impression with many consumers. While it may attract some, a ranting and raving person can never gather mass appeal. Second, the rant itself can attract attention and be taken out of context. Whenever someone goes on a rant, the worst thing they said because the quote the entire content is remembered by. If a business owner writes a logical post filled with great arguments and facts, and then ends with a long rant filled with harsh language and negativity, the headline will feature the harsh language. Ranting and raving ensures that whatever message you're trying to get across will be lost in the spectacle.
  6. Post too much spam
    A good social media marketing plan should include a diverse range of content. Business owners and marketers have to resist the urge to constantly try and sell things to customers. Posting product images works well for a business with a large catalog of popular product images, but a lawyer can't keeping spamming fans with messages saying "Call me for an appointment." If there's no value in the content, people will unsubscribe to the channel. Similarly, marketers need to avoid click baiting. It's someone insulting to the consumer when marketers create content that says "Like this post if [SOMETHING EVERYONE LIKES]" It's a cheap way to get likes that doesn't add value to the brand. Furthermore, Facebook announced last year they would penalize the organic reach of pages that used spam and click baiting tactics.
  7. Post Risque Photos
    For most businesses that are targeting the general public, risque photos of any kinds are something to avoid. This goes beyond the obvious prohibition against nudity or sexual content. There are other kinds of risque photos. For example, a meme that jokes about sexually violence or racism may seem funny when shared among friends, but just like a rant, the sensational portion of image will distract from the work of the organization. A good example of this happened last year, when a scientist caused a controversy for wearing a shirt with scantily clad women during a momentous occasion when NASA landed a spacecraft on a comet. Say what you will about the merits of the controversy, it shows how risque elements can quickly steal attention when the audience is everyone on the internet.

So there you go, seven deadly sins of social media marketing could kill your online reputation. If you've committed any of these transgressions, you are forgiven, just don't do it again. For more advice on social media marketing, read this article on the benefits of social media marketing that business owners need to understand.