The Bad and the Ugly of Social Media

Last weekend I was approached by an old friend at the bar – we’ll call him Sean. My friend Sean has moved away since college and is currently teaching English in another country. We caught up over a few drinks when eventually he started one of the greatest sales pitches I’ve ever been a part of…

I can’t talk too much about it, but I’ve got a product that will revolutionize multiple industries in the next 1-3 years. We don’t have a Chicago rep and I think you have what it takes to be that guy. Six hours a week, that’s all it takes. I’m talking $15,000 a month.

And there I was, trapped in my favorite scene from The Social NetworkI was in.

The Social Network Club Scene

Fast forward a few days.

I did some research on the company and eventually concluded that Sean is involved in some kind of pyramid scheme that would make Charles Ponzi blush. I kept my money and I’m still living in the same one-bedroom apartment as last week.

Sean’s story helps to validate the old saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Possibly “YOLO” as well, I’m not quite sure.

Many newcomers and self-proclaimed pros in the world of social media have fallen into similar get-rich-quick traps. As a firm believer that there is no substitute for hard work, I’ve listed a few of my favorite schemes and misconceptions – the BAD and the UGLY, if you will – of the industry.


Buying Your Friends

This is definitely my favorite. You may have heard that there are services offering a guaranteed number of Facebook Likes (also, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers/repins/Likes) for a flat cost. You pay $50, fall asleep, and wake up to 3,000 new Likes.

It gets better – if you pay a little extra, you can guarantee these Fans are from the good old USA!

The biggest problem with this approach is that it ignores the end goal of any business wanting to keep the lights on. Not only will these 3,000 fake people never interact with your content, they will never buy your product.

But having 5,000+ followers will make me seem reputable to people seeing my Facebook Page, right?

Not quite. Like I said, you’re not going to get any interaction from these fake Fans. A Facebook Page with 5,000 Likes and little to no interaction with each wall post is guaranteed to look fishy. Less total Likes and an engaged fan base will not only look more authentic to an outsider, but may have a “what am I missing out on?” effect!

Rather than build a robotic fan base, build an authentic following and keep them happy with fresh and engaging content.


You Should Be Everywhere!

It’s fun to jump on the latest bandwagon; I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t won a planking contest in the past. For this reason, I’m definitely quick to sign up when the latest social network or tool comes out.

Social Network Icons

For a brand, however, there is more to consider:

  •  Resources: Every brand, big or small, has a limit to their resources. Do you have the time and personnel to keep this new page up and running well?

The only thing worse than missing out on a social network is having a barely-there or poorly run presence. Stay within your boundaries and rock the social networks you have time for.

  •  ROI: You have the resources to keep a new page fresh, but is it really worth your time?

I’m a firm believer that even a brand within a “boring” niche can produce awesome content and have an impactful social presence. That said, the opportunity cost of being on Pinterest might not compete with the time you could spend building your brand elsewhere.

If you’re unsure of a new social network’s worth, go ahead and test it out. Be smart about your metrics and give yourself enough time to collect some data. If you’re seeing good results and you have the time to keep it maintained, go for it! Otherwise, stick to what’s working.

Ultimately, you want to be where your customers are. Focus your resources where your customers live and you’ll see positive ROI from your social media strategy.


Promote, Promote, Promote

Another one of the most cringe-worthy social media mistakes is confusing your social network presence with free ad space. Yes, your Facebook Page is free to set up and maintain, and you can link back to your website with every single post. Sure, it can seem like a free place to ruthlessly advertise for your brand.

Don’t fall into this trap!

In short, be the brand that you’d want to follow. You wouldn’t follow a brand that bombarded you with ads every day. You want variety and interesting content that you are drawn to. Well, so does your customer!

Study upon study shows that social media users react to and engage with certain types of content. As a brand, you should know the basic social media guidelines created by these studies. Then, once you’ve learned when and what to post to your brand’s social networks, throw the rules out the window and post what makes sense for your brand! Know the rules as a solid starting point, and then break them in order to become an above average brand poised to dominate your market.


Stay away from these three major downfalls and you’ll be on your way to creating meaningful relationships with your customers through social media. Like anything worth achieving, it will take time and effort to build these relationships.

At L2TMedia, we take a brand specific approach to social media – tailoring each brand’s strategy to their needs and desired outcomes. We build a targeted audience around your brand, focus our efforts where your audience already exists, and engage consumers to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships.

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