It is easy to make mistakes. Sometimes, you are just not aware of offending anyone. Other times, you intentionally do something, but it backfires on you. As a person, you can receive many, many negative comments or threats if you make a mistake online. People even have been known to get fired over a stupid post (we all know those viral posts; do not spit on a hamburger that you are going to serve to a customer and post a photo of it on your account!).

However, as a company, things can go way worse. Making a mistake on social media can damage your brand, alienate customers, and cost you money. In this blog, I list the 14 things that are the easiest to do on social media, but which your company should NOT do at all. After all, one slip is all it takes. You can use this blog as a checklist for yourself and your employees.

‘14 Easy Things a Company Should NOT Do on Social Media’ Making a mistake on social media can damage your brand, alienate customers, and cost you money. In this blog, I list the 14 things that are the easiest to do on social media, but which your company should NOT do at all. After all, one slip is all it takes. Read the blog at

1. It is easy to lose your temper on social media, but do NOT do it

People love to complain on social media. In fact, people love to complain on social media in a not so polite way. Still, whatever you do, do not reply with the same sentiment. Stay professional at all times. Do not be like Pigalle Boston.

2. It is easy to complain on social media, but do NOT do it

What posts on social media do you enjoy the most? Right! The happy ones, such as birthdays, wedding announcements, a new house or a promotion. You know those people always complaining? You want to hide their incessant stream of negativity. The same goes for companies.

According to Albert Costill, we generally are more inclined to read and respond to positivity on social media. That means that, instead of bashing the competition or spreading negativity, your company has to share content that is uplifting, inspirational, or lighthearted. This type of content is more likely to be viewed and shared.

3. It is easy to make sexual references on social media, but do NOT do it

You know how in the workplace, it can make you feel really uncomfortable when a person makes a sex joke and you really do not think it is funny? On social media, this awkwardness can be magnified, and you will hear from people that they do not like it.

Consider Belvedere’s campaign. The ad campaign for its vodka was supposed to be smooth. The slogan was “Unlike some people, Belvedere goes down smoothly.” Unfortunately, the ad included this picture. See that man smiling while restraining an unwilling woman? Rape is never a joke!

4. It is easy to swear on social media, but do NOT do it

Swearing is a form of social cruelty, according to John Brandon, depending on who is reading your post and the context in which you are posting. What does he consider the best approach? “Save the profanity for an environment where it is not held in perpetuity for any reader to see years from now.”

5. It is easy to post a message on social media without proofreading, but do NOT do it

Does your post contain a spelling or grammar mistake? People will not forgive you. Especially not if you are Mitt Romney.

6. It is easy to be impersonal on social media, but do NOT do it

Customers do not buy from companies; they buy from people. Social media is a great way to show your human side. Make a joke and use “human” language, just like you would if someone was standing in front of you. You cannot automate everything.

7. It is easy to ignore comments on social media, but do NOT do it

No time to check in every once in a while to see how people respond to your posts? Make time.

If you see someone who has a question or concern, take the time to address the issue. If you see someone who says something positive about your brand or shares your post, thank that person.

Again, it is about showing your human side. Establish a relationship with your audience, so you can turn them into customers.

8. It is easy to leave out images or videos on social media, but do NOT do it

Visual pieces of content are faster for us to process and are easily sharable. According to Shae Bennett, 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and we process images 60,000 times faster than plain text.

By using photos and videos in your campaigns, you can thus dramatically increase user engagement and ROI. If you do not use a photo or video in your posts, your posts will hardly be noticed.

9. It is easy to use many hashtags on social media, but do NOT do it

#TooManyHashtagsAreHardToReadAndAnnoying. Reading a hashtag requires extra work, so we need normal text too in order to make sense of your message. If you want to learn more about the proper use of hashtags, the blog “Powerful Hashtagging” explains how you can use hashtags effectively.

10. It is easy to spam on social media, but do NOT do it

Do not copy and paste the same message over and over again. People want to read interesting things, not the same message repeatedly.

Toyota’s use of automated messages is one bad example. Uttoran Sen recalls that it started a campaign during the Super Bowl to have users tweet messages about #camryeffect. If someone did, that person received a spammy automated message about a contest. Eventually, Twitter even suspended the account for spam! Ouch…

11. It is easy to self-promote on social media, but do NOT do it

“Always be selling” is now “Always be helping.” Companies trying to educate people rather than selling to them are more successful than companies that merely market their products and self-promote. The key of sales is now trust. This shift has given rise to the phenomenon of trust content, which is explained in the blog “How to Win Hearts with Trust Content.”

12. It is easy to take advantage of a tragedy, but do NOT do it

Is something bad happening in the world? If you want to talk about it, be sincere. Do not take the opportunity to sell your product. Now is not the time.

Do not be like Gap. This is what Gap tweeted during hurricane Sandy: “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of shopping today. How about you?” As they received much negative feedback, they came with a semi-apology: “To all impacted by #Sandy, stay safe. Our check-in and tweet earlier were only meant to remind all to keep safe and indoors.” People were still not impressed.

13. It is easy to make political statements on social media, but do NOT do it

This is a tricky one. After all, some or many of your clients may agree with you and like you for speaking up. However, the negative effect of people turning against your company is so much greater.

Remember how Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy made a statement that he supports traditional family values? It turned into one of the biggest boycotts of 2012 (and the resentment is still alive today) in the U.S. Gay rights activists even held “kiss days” at restaurants. Financially, things did not go that bad though, but do you want your company to end up in such a situation?

Even companies that people generally like for their values, such as Ben & Jerry’s with its fair-trade policy among others, are criticized every now and then when they make a political statement.

Therefore, in my opinion, it is best to stay away from any political statement.

14. It is easy to ignore the fact that you have made a mistake on social media, but do NOT do it

Oh, how embarrassing, you have made a mistake! What should you do now? It may seem easier to hide under a rock, but please, own up to the fact that you have made a mistake. According to Costill, people will actually respect you for admitting you made a mistake and have a learned a valuable lesson. That means you should post a genuine apology rather than Gap’s semi-apology.

Hopefully, this list helps your company maintain a good reputation on social media. One quick question: would you please share my blog? Thanks!