#Fail! 13 Utterly Annoying Social Media Behaviors To Avoid


Rants  /  Social Media

For years, we’ve been counseling our clients to practice what we call “the fundamentals non-gratuitous social media behavior.”  Lovely conduct that endears users to other community members and earns respect is actually quite easy. Still, even some professionals present terribly irritating habits. You may or may not agree, but brace yourself for this stored up rant featuring aggravating tactics employed by social media players who (IMHO) just don’t get how things work in the sandbox.

Pushy Follow Grubbing
Yep, this is the digital birdcage liner of social media. Dude! Provide value and most users will consider following you. Unless there’s a really good reason, please don’t tweet, DM in Facebook, beg, send an email, or try to shame folks into following.  Literally, I’ve seen a user give someone crap in public because the request recipient did not follow back or answer a follow-grubbing inquiry within a few minutes or hours. Don’t program your post scheduler to tweet your follow-me begging to hashtags every hour on the hour.

Mindless Mechanical Thanking
Thanks for the follow, thanks for the mention, thanks for the link, thanks for thanking me, blah, blah, blah, blah. Act like you’ve been there before. Some folks thank for everything and it just adds noise to feeds. Above all, do not automate messages of thanks, for any reason. IMHO, it’s trite and fake. Better to tender actual thanks that actually mean something by not overdoing it as mechanical standard operating procedures. If you are going to thank people over and over, do it in private so it feels special to the recipient.

Gratuitous Gushing Praise
If a person you do not know very well approached you in person with over-the-top praise, you might feel uncomfortable. Social media praise can be perceived the same way.  It is certainly okay to lay well-placed admiration on fellow community member, just don’t gush. Offer up the same type of feedback that would not creep out the recipient if you were face to face… be appropriate and measured.

Boilerplate Branding As A Social Media, “Visionary” or “Guru”
Gandhi was a guru. Einstein was a visionary. Robert H. Goddard was an expert.  Really, are you a “Guru” to your 8 LinkedIn connections? Are you really a “Social Media Visionary?” Do you lead thinking to such a great extent that you are truly a spiritual teacher? #justsayin…

Spammy Self Promotion
Look, if you are an actual acquaintance, then an occasional sales approach is reasonable.  If you want to approach me in LinkedIn to lay your stupid self-promotional spam, I’ll report you as such and publish your dumbass DM in a blog post.

Fake Familiarity
Ever meet someone at a party who acted as if they knew you a little “too” well? Did it creep you out? Social media mirrors physical life and the same P2P rules apply.  If you don’t know someone well, don’t act as if you know him or her well.

Yes, it’s cool to make new friends and work to get closer. That said, frame the context of the communication. Say something like, “We only met last week, but I want to reach out to [purpose of reaching out]. Perhaps you’re interested. If that’s not what you’re into, then no problem, it’s good to be casually connected, and thanks for all you give to the community. Ciao!”

Selfish Over-Posting
There was recently a study that suggested that Facebook page owners shouldn’t post more than 1x every 3 hours.  Our friend Dan Zarrella found that users don’t like it when a brand spams the feed. To me, this includes personal brands, but really the amount of posting that is deemed “okay” is up in the air. All I know is that I don’t want to be constantly pinged in my news feed over and over by a single friend who shares a common group or page with me. I know a so-called thought leader who WAY over does it. This person participates in nearly every thread, posts every day repeatedly, and (in fact) totally spams my news feed.  Hey, you know who you are! Take a chill pill and quit trying to dominate the feed. It does not make you a thought leader to over-post. It makes you annoying.

Channel Inappropriate Profiles
Unless your last name is actually “SEO Master,” then don’t say it’s your name. It’s a lie, in the name of optimization, and it does not recommend you in any way. Yeah…like anyone’s going to hire you even if you do end up ranking for “SEO of the SEO at SEO.” Ick.

LinkedIn and Facebook people profiles are supposed to be about people.  Don’t be a spamwad hack.  If you want to call yourself HoneyBunnyBoo, then get a StumbleUpon or Twitter profile, where it’s appropriate to operate under a pseudonym.

Gutless Observers
The Arab Spring proved for the gazillionth time that a single idea, from a person with heart and guts, can start a process that can change the world.  Be that hero. Also, if (in life) you see someone getting mugged in the park, you call the 911. When you observe an injustice at work, it’s appropriate to report the incident or otherwise stand up for the victim, keeping your own safety prudently in mind.  If you see a social media community member being mauled verbally or otherwise bullied by a maleficent provocateur, stand up for what you know is right.  Jump in the thread. Contact the person in private to support. Don’t be a spineless wimp.

Hair-Trigger Anger
I am guilty of this one myself.  I tend to try and solve things in public first using a large hammer as opposed to more delicate diplomacy. Sometimes that’s a good thing but more often than not, there are better ways. Try and solve problems in quiet ways that foster the perception that you are a good citizen.  Nobody likes a mean old grouch. Save the big stick for when more measured and patient approaches fail. Then, nuke em’ in Twitter or buy FB ads on their brand terms, only if you can stand the heat and have full confidence that you’ve taken a legal and righteous position.

Lies To Game Friendship Mechanisms
Some sites restrict who can friend you. For instance, LinkedIn wants users you approach to be in the same group, be current or former colleagues, friends and other criteria. Don’t fib to game the Friending criteria. It’s not a good start to a relationship.

Promotion Requests From Idiotic Strangers

Horrendous Ads Targeting
The stupidity of some ad targeting in Facebook and LinkedIn just blows my mind. What could be thinking here?

There are so many cool ways to hang in social media. Rebroadcast with added editorial value, ask reasonable questions, don’t sell or spam, share delightful content bits, and tastefully thank people.  These are wonderful tactics. Be magnanimous and act in ways that would fit in the physical world.

The best way to get likes is to do likeable things. The best way to make friends is to be friendly.  Follow these simple rules and it’s less likely that you’ll annoy the snot out of people.

Image Credit ©Maridav – Fotolia (dot) com



  1. alanc230 on April 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    The utter cluelessness and self-centeredness of many people out there in internet world is just mind-boggling. Instead of actual human contacts, your examples above shout, “Pay attention to me and do something for me!”

  2. Lauren Litwinka on April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Truly disappointing, isn’t it? =/

  3. farky on April 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you so much for this article I love it!, you must of been reading my mind its been driving me nuts lately. I see so many self-proclaimed experts online within social media channels that its really starting to make social unbearable. It seems that because social occupies a lot of peoples time they automatically become an overnight expert with no real validation behind their methodology. Sadly I think the problems only going to get worse until social becomes cleaner if people were to focus more on engagement rather the volume to feed their own egos

  4. Kamila on April 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I would also add meaningless comments such as ‘great article!” :) (Althouh, it is indeed, a great article ;)

  5. brie on April 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Dude..lose the ego

  6. Marty Weintraub on April 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    @farky Kamila: Great input. I can’t believe that stuff bugs me but it does. It sure does not take much background to hang a shingle as a social media “Guru.” Anything else that bugs you?

    @brie: Yep, I do have an ego. Most people do. Don’t you? You must if you’re leaving comments in blogs challenging writers about their ego. I like your spunk. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  7. farky on April 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if the practice of SEO / SEM / Social
    was carefully regulated? Yearly exams etc, because its a big growth area that need policing seperate from the Search Engines and Network owners (like sempo) I’m sure we would see an improvement in quality! Therefore people might stop listening to the have ago hero’s!

  8. Marty Weintraub on April 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    @farky: Yes, but then we run the risk of trade union mentality, where the “certification” has political barriers that can prevent talented people from growing. I experienced that in the musician unions years ago. There were too many mediocre “qualified” people protecting turf.

    Also, online marketing is interesting because things move so fast, that sometimes “experience” is not what makes someone great. I’m afraid that, in our industry, it’s pretty hard to separate the carpetbagger from the prodigy.

  9. farky on April 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Ageed, then perhaps we can only hope that google’s plus voting system, panda, author rank and contextual anchor links might make for a cleaner serp in the near future. But it still doesn’t reduce the noise within social media!

  10. John Bolyard on April 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Dude – don’t hold back – tell us what you really think!!

    PS: Kamila – “I would also add meaningless comments such as ‘great article!” – meaningless comments like this are left by bots – I’m surprised that anyone approves them!

  11. Marty Weintraub on April 17, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    @John Bolyard: Yeah, I was on vacation in Sydney and, once again, so my feed spammed by a presumed thought leader who posts 1-2 times and and participates in like EVERY thread in a common group. Eeeesh. I like what you’ve added here. Thanks!

  12. Gail Gardner on April 17, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Regarding over-posting, does that include comments on sites that are using the Facebook commenting system? Is every comment you make ending up where it will annoy those who see them? Facebook has such horrendous usability that I have to force myself to go there so I still do not have a clear picture of how it works and what ends up where.

    Facebook is simply a low priority for me, but if Kim of @AskKim decides to assist I may be forced to finally sort it out since they are forcing their timeline feature upon us. I thought that was supposed to have already happened, but I don’t see it OR I’m looking in the wrong place.

    I suspect many who may be guilty of over-sharing don’t have any more clue what is being fed where than I do. I wish someone with some influence could convince LinkedIn, Facebook and G+ to hire someone like Bryan Eisenberg to make their sites more usable – unless inconsistency and confusion are intentional features of their platforms. At least LinkedIn has sufficient quality benefits that it is worth tolerating their obvious flaws. Facebook doesn’t – at least not to me.

  13. Marty Weintraub on April 18, 2012 at 6:36 am

    @Gil Reich: Thanks so much my friend. I thought of you as MN business cleaned up links and tweets for their awards link building efforts. YOU are the king of leveraging awards. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    @Dana Lookadoo; Always great to see you here friend. I had to dig pretty hard to find your pic, and I’m an instant fan of your fab Twitter profile. The rise of your speaking career has been so fun to watch. You share with our community as much as anyone, more really….and you’ve been giving forever. We are pleased to call you, “Friend.”

  14. Marty Weintraub on April 18, 2012 at 6:37 am

    @Gail Gardner: You are best at knowing when to jump in and when to let conversations take place around you, of anyone I’ve ever met. Yes, Brian E would do a fantastic job with LI, no doubt. These are cool observations about FB. They should hire YOU. If they understood your social media experience, over many years, and how love you are…they would.

  15. Gail Gardner on April 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks, Marty. I’ll know I’ve succeeded when just ONE of the many businesses I have given ideas that doubled or tripled their sales or more realizes what caused their increased success and actually credits me for it. For now, I’m just happy if they’ll listen and act on what I suggest and they see success from it.

  16. Tudor Davies on April 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I can’t stand tweet after tweet linking to their own site. Share the love, link out to other blogs and resources. I think that if in real life you hear a good joke or story then you retell it, so why not do the same on Twitter?

  17. Darren on April 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Wow dude. An egotistical and utterly pointless list of cliches everyone either knows about, or does and will keep on doing, because these people are idiots and won’t change. Also, the hair-trigger thing I nearly cringed out my skin, you maverick you. Nuke-em by buying FB ads on their brand terms?! Who exactly is this imaginary war against?! If its the guy in your last point, let it go man, let it go. Still provoked a reaction from me so BLAH, take your comment ;)

  18. Marty Weintraub on April 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    @Darren: Yes sir, please again :). The most salient point you made is that it worked on you. Stop by anytime. You could be right.

  19. alanc230 on May 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Welcome to the culture of ever-increasing self-aggrandizement and burgeoning sense of entitlement. I always thought a Guru was created by the acknowledgement of and acclamation from OTHER people who appreciated his/her wisdom. Anyone who proclaims himself or herself a Guru or Visionary needs to look around and develop some humility.

  20. Chukwudi Nwokike on May 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I learnt a lot of things from this post myself. Starting out as a social media manager and SEO professional can be very daunting. Sometimes one can get desperate and oversell themselves. From what this article is saying thats a big NO NO. I definitely am guilty of some of these things (*covers face) Good article anyway.

  21. Streko on June 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    posting pictures all the time of the food that you eat where you are from your twitter account.

  22. Marty Weintraub on June 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

    @Streko: Yeah! How lame is THAT :)

  23. Amy Fowler on August 7, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Brilliant article!

    I’m equally annoyed by people who profess to be ‘social media gurus’ (or any equivalent). I wonder if these ‘gurus’ have noticed the fact that anyone who could genuinely be considered as such, would never refer to themselves in such an egotistical manner?

    The fact is, if you ever get to the point where you could be thought of as a ‘guru’, you shouldn’t need to be referring to yourself as one.

  24. Marty Weintraub on August 7, 2012 at 6:51 am

    @Amy Fowler: Yeah, it totally cracks me up, especially when the word “Guru” is appended to someone’s last name in their LinkedIn profile. LOL. Thanks for stopping by. Good points made.

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