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5 Ways You’re Annoying Everyone on Social Media

Even with the huge emphasis placed on permission marketing lately, so many marketers still fail to understand that consumers don’t like to be yelled at.5 ways you are annoying everyone on social media

The paradigm of interruption marketing went out the window long ago and, if you’re not careful, you’ll be going out the window with it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling cars, advertising a laundromat, or trying to bring readers to your blog — if your social media strategy is to push, push, yell, and push, you’re not going anywhere.

There are five unfortunately popular examples below describing the annoying pushing and yelling that still plagues social media. Are you using any of these tactics?

#1. Automated Direct Messages on Twitter

When someone follows you on Twitter, there isn’t an implicit agreement saying it’s okay to send them a direct message. Twitter isn’t an email list, it’s a conversation. It’s a conversation centered around the concept of giving before receiving. So, that automated DM requesting a LIKE on your Facebook page when you’ve done literally nothing valuable for that new follower is a bit greedy to say the least.

Sending an automated DM to every new person who follows you is bad Twitter etiquette and it’s plainly hypocritical when your Twitter bio brags about how your mantra for social media success is “engagement.”

There’s nothing genuinely engaging about an automated DM you send to every new follower. Don’t kid yourself: It’s beyond easy to spot them too — automated DMs read like an advertisement, have generic messages, and usually aren’t personalized. People catch on with ease. That’s no way to start a relationship with a new follower.

#2. Sending Posts Directly to People on Google+

I’m not sure why every feature on a new social network needs to be abused. As they say, “marketers ruin everything.” That’s a pretty dismal notion, but as a fellow marketer, I have to say we need to be very careful how we use the tools placed in front of us.

Simply because we have an opportunity to push our message to a wider audience doesn’t necessarily mean we always should.

Since Google+ has been growing in popularity, I’ve seen an increase in the number of people using the feature that allows you to share posts directly with people — this sends both a Google+ notification and an email to the receiver.

It’s not a big problem to use this feature occasionally, especially if you’re very selective with who you’re sending the post, but it has the potential to quickly spiral out of control. If you just had a major breakthrough and got published on Forbes or another big name blog, that’s awesome and you should let people know. On the flip side, you don’t need to directly notify people about every new post you publish. This will quickly get your account flagged as spam from a lot of people.

#3. Inviting Everyone and Their Mothers to Contribute to Your Pinterest Group Board

I haven’t seen too many complaints about this yet, but it’s a growing problem. I’ve been getting a lot of invites on Pinterest from random people asking me to contribute to their group Pinterest boards and let me say this:

No, I don’t really want to pin on your Pinterest board. I’ve never met you or had any interaction with you anywhere in the social media sphere.

Group Pinterest boards were definitely meant for collaboration, there’s no doubt about that. However, I doubt the creators of Pinterest envisioned users spamming invites to people who have shared no interactions in the past. If you have relationships with a group of people, collaborating on a group Pinterest board can be a great social media tactic.

The key is the relationship should already exist. If you want to collaborate on a Pinterest board with someone, at least introduce yourself first via a tweet, blog comment, or some other means. Yes, it slows down the process and spamming is easier, but you’re likely to get more people to collaborate if you don’t spam and you’re just being annoying otherwise.

#4. Using Hashtags on Facebook

This isn’t so much an issue of permission-based marketing as it is simply looking like you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you’re a social media marketer at any level and you’re using hashtags on Facebook, there’s a big problem. Of course, most people who do this will say they have their Twitter and Facebook accounts linked.

While I’m not a big fan of connecting accounts, I realize it have benefits in some cases. However, you should be very careful when cross-posting on multiple networks, because using hashtags on Facebook is a shot to your credibility as a social media marketer.

Apart from that, it’s annoying! Hashtags have absolutely no functional value on Facebook as they do on Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest and it really does irk some people when they see hashtags on Facebook. Perception is reality in marketing, so it’s in your best interests to protect your perception.

#5 Sending Mass Google+ Community Invites

This one is unfortunate, because I like to join new Google+ Communities and test the waters. I don’t mind being invited to Communities in principle. What’s annoying is being invited to Communities about pottery, parasailing, breeding rabbits, or climbing trees while holding a baseball bat between your teeth. Okay, those last two didn’t actually happen, but you get the point.

I decided to turn off community invites entirely about two weeks ago, because it just got out of control.

If you insist on inviting people to your Google+ Community, please take the time to target your invites to people who show at least some slight interest in the topic of your Community. For one, it’s simply good manners. For two, it keeps your account from getting marked as spam and subsequently suspended or banned.

What We Need Here is a Little Empathy

I understand we’re all trying to get our messages out there. We want people to see what we’re doing and we want them to love us. That’s a basic human desire and it can definitely be hard to tame.

Let’s pause for a second, though. As humans, we have the ability to step outside our own minds to a degree. We’re able to place ourselves in the shoes of others and feel what they’re feeling — that is the very essence of empathy and at the core of making ethical decisions.

Try this little exercise: The next time you’re sending an automated DM, community invite, email, making a Facebook update, or carrying out any other digital marketing effort, genuinely try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be on the receiving end of your message. If you were on the receiving end:

  • Would you be annoyed by the message?
  • Would you hit the delete button before even giving a second thought to the message?
  • Would you want to continue building a relationship with the person who sent the message?

Relationships are built on trust and selflessness, not a constant ring of, “Give me, give me, give me.” Every detail matters in marketing, so I challenge you to take this exercise seriously the next time you’re preparing to send a message to others via social media.

Guest Author: Jonathan Payne (@SocialGamePlan) is the founder of My Social Game Plan, a social media marketing blog helping digital marketers build their online presences. You can connect with Jonathan via the  Social Game Plan Newsletter.

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  • #1 is the most annoying thing!

    • Caleb_Anthony

      I agree! I’m shocked to see many self-proclaimed “internet marketing gurus” take this approach, as well.

  • OK… so I’m guilty as anyone at #1. Certain products feature this functionality, so it’s easy to see why there are so many people using auto DMs. It’s good that Twitter makes the Authentication process for an app much more difficult than for metrics or posting when it comes to the permission to send DMs.

    About using the #hashtags in Facebook goes – if a marketer is using them because they believe it adds to effectiveness then there’s no excuse. When it’s a post from your Profile and it’s targeting friends, and you’re just trying to be funny, then there is a place for #hashtags. For example #justsayin or #fail …. so as to reference a common and familiar phenomenon.

    • I would agree with that. This post is definitely written from the marketer’s perspective! Though I do have a handful of friends who tell me they get annoyed seeing hashtags on Facebook haha

      But yes, the hashtag has become somewhat of a “social media-culture” thing, so I understand why people use them like in the examples you gave.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Thanks Jonathan, but you left out #6: Recycling 12-18mth old blog posts as current! 😉

    • Point well received, Howard, and I respect your view. I mean that, seriously.

      However, I think only one of these five would remain on a list made 18 months ago — that would be #1. The others, especially those involving Google+ and Pinterest, weren’t much of a problem 12-18 months ago in my experiences.

      I understand where you’re coming from and this topic has definitely been covered in the past, but it’s worth an update when new features roll out (aka get abused) and there’s value in the body of the post that one wouldn’t gather by only reading the headline.

  • Google now indexes hashtags, thus for public pages, it isn’t as gauche or indicative of naïveté as the article makes it sound. #justsayin

    • Interesting, Marie. Thanks for pointing that out. Do you have any resources on that topic you could provide us? There’s always time to learn! I know Google indexes keywords from Facebook statuses to some extent, but to my knowledge, that doesn’t usually include the # symbol.

  • Megan Broutian


  • What about cross posting to Twitter from Facebook (or vice versa)? Major pet peeve of mine.

    • Though I don’t personally automate cross-posting, I think can serve a positive purpose in some cases. Like all things, it has its pros and cons and, as I mentioned in the post, you have to be careful about how/when you use cross-posting.

  • Great post! Always being genuine is the only way to go. The only thing that should be automated is the timing of your content. Everything you put out there should be out of genuine interest. If you’re not going to read the article why make someone else?!

  • It’s gotten to the point where I just delete all DM’s on Twitter with a quick glance. I felt guilty but now I do not! 🙂

    • It’s really unfortunate, Cheryl. I do have some followers who occasionally DM me with legitimate requests, questions, etc. and I’ve accidentally ignored them in the past, because I’ve turned off all DM email alerts.

      DMs have great functional value when used appropriately, but that value has been corrupted to an extent.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Jonathan! Great post – didn’t realize it wasn’t Jeff.
    I have a general question for you. I have a Facebook Profile, Facebook Page, a Twitter Profile, A YouTube Channel, A LinkedIn Profile, a LinkedIn Company Page, an Instagram account etc. What’s the general term for what all these things are? I was calling them “Social Media Presences” but I got a lot of feedback around the term and that people wouldn’t be familiar with it. So I tried “Social Media Channels”… still doesn’t sound right…. your opinion or Jeff’s say-so would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thank you for the compliment!

      When you say people wouldn’t be familiar with the term, are you talking about potential clients? The problem is the vernacular surrounding this field of marketing is so new that, no matter what terms you choose, you’re likely going to be doing some educating of clients.

      If you want to get general, social media for our purposes is simply a marketing medium — in the same category as radio, TV, print, and so on. You could think of the different networks as different radio stations or TV channels. Perhaps that analogy would help others who aren’t as involved in the field understand?

      • juliane leda

        Yeah definitely true. Though its part of our freedom but if its too much…. its annoying anymore.

  • Oh come on! A hashtag on Facebook is #FUN! Get a sense of humor! No one cares about this social media stuff in long run anyway! Get a life! The rules are… “there are no rules!” Have FUN!

    • Appreciate the comment, Robin! Nothing like a little controversy to spark discussion 🙂

      From a personal standpoint, Facebook hashtags don’t bother me. From a marketing and functional perspective, I’m not entirely sold on them yet.

      Especially if I’m a social media manager attempting to bring in more clients for myself or my company — I should give the perception that I know what I’m doing. I’m not convinced that auto cross-posting Twitter to Facebook or using hashtags in places they lack value is the best way to go about that.

      You’re entirely right: There aren’t “rules,” but I think there are without a doubt “best practices” in the majority of cases.

    • Dyan Diamond

      I completely agree with Robin! Let’s just have fun! There are NO RULES!! Your rules sound like your way of manipulating the “system” of social media. I don’t want to manipulate. I just wanna be me and just want everyone to be themselves too!

    • That’s what I thought until fun was complaints. I am learning to be a lot more careful as SN is pretty important to my business.

    • No, there are rules, mostly based on common sense & being respectful. If those concepts are violated you can make a loss that cannot be fixed.

  • Loved this post, Jeff. You hit the mail on the head with each and every one of them!

  • Thanks for commenting, Gail. I have some friends who do that as well. I don’t mind hashtags, personally, unless they’re being used on Facebook as an aspect of marketing. Even then, it’s not a huge deal, but it does lead me to question the digital marketing expertise of that individual.

  • Thank you, Paula. No doubt that audience plays huge a role in how you decide to output marketing messages. As with most things in life, it depends!

  • Pulin

    good points covered. People need to use social media in a way it should be. One need to genuinely give back before asking!

  • Doug Kessler

    Great post. Just good manners, really.

    The hashtag thing doesn’t bother me. I suspect hashtags have entered the language now and will be with us long after Twitter is gone.

  • Great stuff, refreshing to know you’re not alone in your thinking! 🙂

    I’d add #6: LinkedIn inmails sent out in a generic fashion to all contacts whether relevant or not, on a regular basis. I got 5 in 5 days from 5 different members of one company promoting social media courses – uh, I’ll pass thanks, did you look at my bio…..

    • Fortunately I don’t get too many of those…sounds horrible and definitely fits the list. Thank you for commenting, Jan 🙂

  • DS

    Okay – so I definitely was laughing about your points here because they annoy me too. If I wouldn’t find it useful or helpful, I’m not interested in sending it out to you. Wish more had that concept down.

    Thanks for highlighting these here…especially the auto DM on twitter.

  • Dave Schlueter

    Every time some selfish in it for themselves only marketer abuses yet another feature made available to reach people it only makes it more difficult for those of us with a real message and value to reach the people who need it most.

  • Randy Hilarski

    I actually thought I was doing Twitter wrong because I was not using the automatic DM. GPlus is my Social Media home so I will stick to what I know.

  • Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    I too have been guilty of the hashtag on Facebook as it’s linked to Twitter. I think people get annoyed with a double up of posts.

    I’ve also learnt through trial and error not to post continually on Twiiter from other social media. Such as every Pin you place on Pinterest. Just choose one good Pin to share with Twitter to remind you followers you are there.

    Also wanted to ask is it bad to send a welcome Tweet to new followers?

    • Yes, good suggestion, Sally. Thanks for commenting!

      To your question: In my opinion, a welcome tweet is great. I do it, though selectively. You could spend all day welcoming and thanking people once your Twitter account starts gaining some traction, so it’s important to use your time efficiently.

      Personally, I tend to only send welcome tweets to people who I consider my “target follower/reader.” Another thing I would suggest is that you make it personal — use the followers first name when possible, so your welcome tweet doesn’t come across as automated.

  • Amen!! Jeff thank you for your post: good timing! Especially the automated DMs on Twitter, which I find so annoying! I guess for some marketers it is difficult to concentrate on the giving / sharing part of the equation! As the bible says Give and it shall be given unto you! However the giving process has to be started first!…

  • Bleeping Relics

    Hash-tags on Facebook are very silly, lol. But i guess Facebook will make them operational one day.

  • Katherine Tattersfield

    Thanks for bringing up the group boards issue. So annoying to get these invites from folks who aren’t even following your account. The Hash Tag issue comes up a lot in my social media marketing groups. I’m with you—hash tags don’t belong on Facebook. Lately I’ve seen that it’s more a result of auto posting from Instagram than Twitter.

  • You have to give to get. Give your prospective customers something nice like a link to a pretty picture (not to an order form.) Make ads visible, but don’t have them take up 90% of the page, especially in the middle. It’s better to thank them for following you with a Tweet than an automatic message; it increases their Klout score (and is easier to delete if they so choose).

  • God help me if I ever post anything on a LinkedIn group again. I learned the hard way. This is a great article for boobs like me.

  • LH

    #6, When an entire tweet post or every other word is a @mention and/or hashtag. I get it, ppl don’t want to forget anyone in their “Oscar thank-you speeches”, but it would be nice to be able to understand the actual message without a decoder.

  • Facebook does now support hashtags. I can’t say I personally like it because they are visually unappealing, but it is now a “featured benefit”. Bleh.

  • Valuable insights that validated a lot of what I have been thinking. More is not always better, and being real is more important than being automatic.

  • Mike

    Jeff, your blog is good but 120-130 tweets a day on ‘evergreen’ posts is too many for me.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Twitter is a stream rather than an inbox and it is a balancing act between too much and not enough. Also everyone has a different number of followers so my stream can be overwhelming if a follower only has a few followers.

  • Mark Verrilli

    Couldn’t agree more about hashtags on facebook… I just don’t get it? Check out http://figureit0ut.wordpress.com/, I’m sure we have a lot in common