7 Deadly Sins of Social Media

Thou shalt not do that again!

I try to live a good life, free from temptation and sin…well mostly. I try to do what’s right online too and to help my clients do the same. But that’s tricky some days. There’s got to be a short-cut to get some of this social collateral we’re all working so hard for, right?

Social media sins

There are lots of go-arounds for social media and while they don’t come in the form of table-dancers, they’re just as dangerous – even for a one-time try. Is your social media suffering from a little gluttony, greed or sloth? Thankfully, the diagnosis is less painful than a blood test and the antidote, while not easy is clear and understood.


Lust is usually associated with sexual desire, but it can also be symbolic of lack of control. Being human on social media is an absolute must – being overly familiar or vulgar is not. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable for a sleep doctor to engage a conversation about the habits of your sleep partner. It borders on slightly creepy for a mattress retailer to suggest you and your new partner need a virgin mattress (one not tainted with the memories of past partners). Ensure your social media strategy:

  • Is relevant to your audience and fulfills a need
  • Has a voice that’s recognizable as your brand voice
  • Is conversational and chatty (if that’s your brand) but doesn’t delve into personal topics that don’t relate to your brand.


Consuming anything to the point of waste, whether it’s food, bling or social media – that’s gluttony. Getting onboard with social media but doing it without a strategy is silly – if not downright stupid. Social media, more so than any other medium is measurable – in both cold, hard facts and in anecdotal conversations.

If you’re not measuring your social media reach, why are you doing it? Dr Phil called it emotional eating. We call it emotional tweeting – and it’s just plain weird for brands.


We all want to be the best at what we do. That’s human nature. If you’re late to the social media game, it can feel like you’re swimming upstream against a massive current. And you might be tempted to harvest followers from automated tools. Don’t do it.

Admit your newbie-ness and ask for help. You’ll earn more respect. A small, well-connected community is much more powerful than a large, disjointed one.


Known as the sin of omission, sloth is perhaps the least serious of all the cardinal sins. But sloth in social media can be the death knell for your online brand. Google prefers to serve fresh content to searchers and if your Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2010, but it’s newer than your website, guess what your customers (and potential customers) will find first?

behave yourselfEven more damning is the habit of duplicating content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…because it’s easier to just share the same content with everyone. Sharing the same information might be a good place to begin, but actually chatting with people from those communities has to follow – or it’s a broadcast channel, not a community.

If you’re just jumping into social media but are worried about the time commitment, start small. Do some research and find out which platform is best for your business or community and do just that one. Do it well. Really well.  


Ever lost your cool with a customer who made it her mission in life to make your business the destination of the seven deadly sins? It happens. We’re human and we all make mistakes. Losing your cool on social media is downright dangerous.

Address customer complaints by sharing your phone number (or asking for theirs) and then taking it to a verbal conversation – where you can interact like human beings. Airing dirty laundry on your Facebook wall (or even in an email) could lead to a maelstrom of social media reproach.


The thing I love most about social media is its transparency. If I want to know how well a brand handles customer service issues, all I have to do is visit their Facebook wall or Twitter stream. And I always find interesting quirks when I’m there. If I’m researching a specific product and find similar content on two pages, I’m intrigued – which one is copying which? The one with the least customer engagement usually loses that argument.

Keeping your friends close and your competition just as close is smart business. But don’t copy what they’re doing. Map out your own strategy and let them follow you.


Pride is a slippery slope in social media. It’s normal to want to celebrate when you reach milestones, like your first hundred (or thousand) fans on your Facebook wall. But remember, those fans are there because they’re getting something from you. They aren’t there to stroke your brand ego.

being realWhen you reach a milestone, use it as an opportunity to ask for feedback – how can we serve you better? Give away gifts to random fans – not for getting more fans to your page. Celebrate members of your team who made it happen – have an office pizza party, take pictures and tag those pictures. Thank your fans – nothing disarms people more than genuine excitement.

Doing social media right is easier than most brands think. It’s about being honest, real and smart. If you have those 3 things in place (or someone to help you) building a community of loyal followers happens naturally.

Share your brand love with us. Who do you see doing social media so well that you can’t help but being happy to share your Facebook love with them? Which brands do you regularly tweet with just because you like them?

Got social media questions? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn – I’m always on.

9 Responses to “7 Deadly Sins of Social Media”

  1. Rossana says:

    As usual, great post Julia! Being honest and real (transparent) is so important!

  2. Lindsey says:

    And don’t forget the social media golden rule: Do not tweet anything you would not like seen plastered on a billboard with your name and picture. The end. 🙂

    • Julia Rosien says:

      Right on! I tell my clients, if you can tell your mom, boss and co-worker what you just tweeted, you’re golden. If you can’t tell them without squirming, got back and edit. And learn from your mistakes – which is something we all struggle with!

  3. Can’t back you up on Sloth enough. While I frequently cross-share content across multiple platforms, each platform gives you the opportunity to design that experience for your audience. Customization is key, automation is not. From selecting thumbnail images to lead-ins to descriptions and headlines, getting lazy tells your audience that you care more about the content than the chance that they might actually consume it and share it. A bad move, but one easily rectified with two parts common sense and one part humanity. As an aside, I’m diggin’ Envy’s dress 🙂

    • Julia Rosien says:

      Erika, you nailed it! “Customization is key. Automation is not.” Sadly, for many brands the content is still more important than the community and that will only change as we work harder to bring everyone up to standard. We just need to start thinking clearly and stop the sinning….sigh 🙂 The picture is pretty awesome, isn’t?

  4. Jason says:

    I am a newbie to social media and I loved your post! It was a really creative way to get your message across what is very true!


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