Five Social Media Mistakes and How to Fix Them

social media icons

I’m not a social media expert, guru or even ninja. Why? Because none of those things actually exist and it annoys me to no end when people identify themselves using some or all of those terms. That’s because social media isn’t a static subject. Social media platforms can all change tomorrow without any warning, sending everyone into a panic. You can’t be an expert about something that can change all the rules tomorrow; the best you can be is adept at using them. So with that in mind here are some helpful hints gathered after years of watching people and companies do things well and very badly.


1. Ghost account – Many companies and even people feel the pressure to be on social media, even if they don’t know why or what they should do on the platforms. I’ve seen this countless times, a sin committed especially it seems by companies in the travel sector. Hotels and tour companies set up a Twitter profile and then leave it dormant; never checking it or updating their status. While I applaud their understanding that social media is indeed important and that they should have a presence, this is the instance when becoming involved with social media can actually hurt you. If I’m looking at two hotels I will check their social media accounts and if given the opportunity, I will always choose the one with the active account over one that is not. A Twitter account that hasn’t been updated in a year or more tells me that they don’t care about social media, their customers and might even be lazy. It tells me that they’re a small institution (which may not even be true) and that if they can’t bother to update Twitter one time in a year, then what does that say about the company. Being active on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean you have to spend hours a day on the platforms, you can be active in just ten minutes a day and for that relatively small investment the rewards you will reap are considerable.


2. Bad descriptions – Social media is about sharing, engaging and building communities. In order to do that, it’s important to know who you’re talking to. Many times I’ve had a company follow me and their description does nothing to actually tell me who or what they are. “Come visit our beautiful hotel on the nearby river.” What river? What country? This tells me nothing about them and because of that I won’t follow them. Include your city and country, provide a link back to your web site and concisely tell me who you are. Don’t dismiss the importance of a profile; take your time writing it and make sure there are no typos and that the words aren’t in ALL CAPS. (Stop shouting at me!) It kills me when I see a profile that reads, “Travel writer touring the wold with pet catt in a campervan.” Instantly you’ve told me that you can’t write and have no attention to detail. If you’re looking for work, you’ve lost the gig before you even knew that it existed. Also, please be original. It’s great that you’re a traveling couple who left it all behind to see the world. Fantastic, but you’re the 20th such couple to follow me this month. Think of something new and different that sets you apart from the crowd.


3. Auto-messaging – I thought this phenomenon so prevalent in the early days of social media had virtually died out, but it seems to be making a resurgence. If there is someone out there telling newbies that auto-messaging of people on social media platforms is a good idea – stop it! It’s not a good idea, it’s a bad horrible one. Social media is meant to be personal, even when practiced by large corporations. If I follow someone on Twitter and automatically get a private message asking me to follow them on Facebook that tells me that they don’t care about me, they only want to use me. While Twitter can absolutely be used to one’s advantage, broadcasting the fact that community isn’t important to you is a really bad move. The same concept is applicable to Facebook as well. I have received private messages on my personal Facebook (not LandLopers) account pitching me their latest hotel promotion. For me, that was a massive invasion of privacy and I instantly blocked them from ever contacting me again and made a mental note to avoid at all costs. There’s etiquette involved with social media, watch others, learn from them and then you’ll be more productive.


Find groups like #TTOT and engage with the users.

4. Bad engagement/No participation – I’m going to tread lightly on this subject because I don’t think there’s one perfect path to engagement and community building in social media. It depends on the person/company and how they’ve approached the medium. What works for me wouldn’t work for others and so on. That being said, social media exists for sharing and engagement, so if that’s lacking altogether then we have a problem. Earlier I wrote that a company can be effective on social media in just 10-15 minutes a day and I believe that. Scheduling posts and Tweets is fine, but there has to be some follow up. Take a look and see what people have said about you and what you’ve shared, ask them questions and engage. Let them know that you’re a real human being. Even when I see a Fortune 500 on Twitter I know that a computer isn’t composing the messages, it’s a person and it’s ok to let that individualism shine through. I want to hear about your morning just as much as I want to see pretty pictures of the beach at your hotel. Also be sure to share information that isn’t yours, but which you think your community will enjoy. This isn’t just a great return on your audience’s social media investment, but it shows that you’re not an egotistical prick. To save time, follow hashtags like #TTOT (travel related posts) to find others in your interest area and to get interesting materials to share with your audience.


Rules of the road

5. Not understanding the platform – One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is approaching all social media platforms as if they’re the same and operate on the same set of rules. The fact is that each one exists for a reason, they’re something different from what already exists. Twitter has qualities that Facebook does not, just as the reverse is true. Acknowledging that the platforms are different, you have to spend some time learning how they work and what the unofficial rules are. As an example, I post on Twitter a heck of a lot more often than I do on Facebook. Why? Well, I always say that Twitter is like dating and Facebook is like marriage. To ‘follow’ someone on Twitter is an easy, often nonchalant decision. They’re one of thousands of voices in your stream. Facebook is different though. When you ‘like’ someone or something on Facebook, you’re inviting them into your lives, the same News Feed that your closest friends and family share. So I’m respectful of those differences and I share accordingly. Take this example and apply to all social media platforms and I hope you’ll realize the importance of learning the nuances of each. Do I think a successful person or company needs to be active on all social media platforms? No, of course not; I’m not even sure that’s humanly possible. Pick the ones you enjoy the most or which are the most important to your company, learn about them and then go forth and be a good citizen of that community.

So there you have it. A few of the mistakes I’ve noticed on social media and my thoughts about them. I’m no expert, as I explained before and these are just my thoughts, so take them as you will. What would you add to the list?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

11 thoughts on “Five Social Media Mistakes and How to Fix Them”

  1. I’d beg to differ on some of the stuff you’ve said. We’re a travel blog. I have numerous social media outlets. The one I love the most is our facebook page because its so personal. I have actual people “liking” us. That number, however, grows slowly. Much too slowly for me, anyway. But I appreciate the fans we have no matter what.

    But on our twitter account, I rarely promote our content. Instead I use it to circle-jerk (i use that term lovingly) other people and spread their content/writing/photos. So it works for others. It doesn’t really work for us.

    But perhaps it doesn’t work for us because I actually take the time to make connections with people on twitter. I’ll reply to people’s tweets, join numerous twitter chats and so on. I try to keep it real and not add people for the sake of adding.

    Maybe I just need to wear a bikini. That might make our numbers grow quicker. ;-D

    1. Thanks for the comments but I don’t see how that differs from what I said. You’re using social media in a way that works for you and you live up to the concept behind the platforms. That’s a good thing. :)

  2. Good post mate, I feel the same way about companies that have non-existent social media presence and I’m always delightfully surprised by a travel company that immediately replies to my questions and concerns.

    And the point you made about “Couple leaving everything behind to travel” is on EVERY travel couple page. Find something unique people, because you are unique! And even though I’ve never said I’m a social media ninja guru master affaciando level 95 expert, I have stated I am an aggregator of awesome. Because it’s a fact I am. :P

    1. Ha, love that title – aggregator of awesome :) And you’re right, everyone is unique so why not highlight it? Don’t be another brick in the wall…

  3. Love this post! I manage an extensive social media presence for, and really enjoy coming across content like this that offers advice with the mindset of ‘pick what works for you.’

    One other suggestion I would add is to choose the platforms that work for you. Rather than spreading yourself too thin by trying to be on EVERY channel (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) choose the ones you get the maximum value out of. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to building brand awareness on social media, and it’s important to identify where your strengths lie. When you can do that, it’s only going to help you grow and reach a broader audience.

    P.S. Great to finally meet you in person at TBEX. Keep up the awesome work!

  4. Hey, thanks for sharing! This was actually a really great, helpful and informative piece. Sometimes my friends and family nag me that I take social media too seriously, but there are just things about it that they don’t understand. You helped reaffirm my beliefs of how important it is to be active in the community. Plus, I just love it and have met so many great people. Again, thanks for sharing and hope to catch you all on #ttot and others :) soon.

  5. What an intriguing article to read! Social media can be used for all kinds of good: promoting charites, making people more aware of societal issues, engaging with potential customers, giving & sharing of knowledge, etc – yet often I fear it is being used all too frequently by people who have nothing better to do than to promote far too much unnecessary and unhelpful information.

    Two thumbs for the “egotistical prick” comment!

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