5 Social Media Tactics that need to be Trashed

Every Year there are predictions about Social Media Tactics, strategies and platforms that will be hot in the following year.  

But let's spare a thought for the bad, annoying social media practices that are becoming all too common. 

In this post, I share 5 Social Media Practices that annoy the heck out of me. Chances are they are annoying the heck out of you too (or maybe you know someone who needs to stop doing them).  

5 Social Media Tactics that Need to be Trashed
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If you know me and you know my blog, you'll know I don't often rant about the dont's.  I prefer to focus on the do's.  It's just a more positive way to do things.

But lately, all 5 of these “dont's” have driven me bat-shizz crazy, to put it mildly.

And I know I am not the only one to be annoyed – many of you have commented about how you are sick of putting up with them too.

But… I'm guessing that a small percentage of my readers may do one or more of these social media tactics:

  1. Maybe you don't know any better.
  2. Or maybe someone (who SHOULD know better) has advised you to do it.  I hope you'll reconsider, because let's face it, at least two of these social media tactics can get you or your social account in a whole lot of trouble, so I'd like that not to happen to you!

And for those of you that are not using any of these social media tactics (thank you for keeping social “clean”) please feel free to pass this on.

And I am sure there will be a few people who disagree with me too.  Le Sigh.

So here's my hit-list for the trash can of social media:

 5 Social Media Tactics to Trash in 2017

1  Auto DMs and Auto Thank You's on Twitter

This year I stopped looking at my Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter altogether. It became too hard to rummage through them all in order to find real, intentional messages.

I know that it means that I miss a few authentic, real, genuine messages..but it all became too hard, because too many of them are automated, promotional spam or generic, impersonal thank you messages.

Note:  if you want to reach me, don't send a Twitter DM. I'll miss it.  

I am sure for many people the intention is good, but please know that it's kind of a waste of time.  Especially if you are adding promotional content to that “thankyou” message.   Most of us just switch off and don't read them.

What Should You Do Instead? 

  1. Try choosing a few key people that you want to thank for following or reach out to and send a personal message. It just takes 5 minutes to send a few of these. Even a short video can be quick and easy to do.
  2. You can also use my secret weapon for controlling auto-messages.  I use Agorapulse for my social media management as it allows me to check and reply to comments and messages across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It also has a cool “moderation feature” that allows me to filter out 90% of the Direct Messages and Auto-Thankyou's. Here's one of my rules that I set up to filter out the Automated Thankyou's:
Use Agorapulse to Filter Spam and Auto DMs - 5 Social Media Tactics that need to be trashed in 2017
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Agorapulse can help save you from choking on Auto DMs!

I also use Agorapulse to filter out certain third party tools that tend to send spammy messages or auto-bot messages and replies (I'm looking at you, Rebel Mouse!). You can also choose to filter out any sort of post that uses consistent keywords in your newsfeed.  It's Ninja!

Whatever you do, focus on real, authentic messages. Twitter users don't want to have conversations with robots!

2  Adding LinkedIn Contacts to your Email List

I give you due warning. I am about to get on my high-horse.

Here's what I think about adding LinkedIn contacts to your email list without them subscribing.


Please don't do it.  

Just don't.  

Do not add your LinkedIn contacts to your generic email list and spam them. In fact, don't add them to ANY email list.

There will be some LinkedIn users out there that will argue this, because they believe (or have been ill-advised) that it is good practice to spam someone without permission.

Or that being a LinkedIn “contact” implies you want to be added to an email list.

It's not and it doesn't.

I asked LinkedIn about this a while back, and this is the response they gave:

Hi Donna.  Adding our members email addresses to a mailing list is considered spamming. The Do's and Don'ts section of the LinkedIn User Agreement prohibits sending spam. At this time, you can only report these people who violate the user agreement.  We currently don't have this functionality available to hide your email address to your contacts. However, I've sent your suggestion on to our product team for consideration.  When many of our members ask for the same improvement, they try their best to get it done. However, due to the number of suggestions they receive, they usually don't provide a timeline. Again, we appreciate the feedback and believe that together we can create great products for everyone!

Adding people to an email list without express permission is spamming them. Plain and simple.

If you are in Canada or a country where the spam legislation is super strict, you are also risking being reported and getting a hefty fine. Don't do that.

This also applies to using your LinkedIn contact email lists to upload into Facebook Ads to create a Custom Audience. This is against Facebook's guidelines as the person has to be a genuine subscriber to use the email for this purpose.

LinkedIn contacts are not subscribers (just in case you missed it the first time).

What to do instead: 

  1. Reach out to your LinkedIn contacts and offer value IN LinkedIn via LinkedIn Mail – continue the conversation on email if you want to (and the contact agrees to do so), but at least offer some sort of value and communication first.  Don't “presume” they want to be bulk-emailed.  Don't spam.
  2. Reply to people who add you to an email list without permission, and let them know it's against LinkedIn's terms.  Report them if you really want to, but I prefer to educate first… some people have just been given bad advice and don't know any better.
  3. Let LinkedIn know if you are sick of getting added to lists because of your LinkedIin email address. Maybe they will change it so that we can choose whether or not to make our email address visible to contacts, or give stricter guidelines around what you can and can't do with your contact list.

Side note:  I changed my email address in LinkedIn to an email that I don't use to subscribe to any other email lists.  So now, it's easy to identify those people that are adding me to an email list via LinkedIn. Unfortunately, there are quite a few – and they are pretty much always sales-y and non-personalised emails.   

I rest my case.

3  Auto Comments on Instagram

For the love of all things social, don't use third party tools that post comments automatically on Instagram posts.

If you want to comment on Instagram… comment.  Type your real, authentic comment under the image… and post it.

Don't post robot comments.  They are truly ruining the experience of Instagram.

You've seen them before. Here are a few examples:

Love it!

Very cool.

Nice one!

Awesome ….. Sweet…. Love this…

Put simply, don't be a bot:

What's worse is that now we can't even post a quick “great pic” or “nice” without it looking like an auto comment. Gah!  You need to make an effort and make your comments relevant and tailored to the content.

And yes, you are more likely to get auto-comments if you use hashtags.  But the auto-comments are the problem, not the hashtags.

What to do instead:  

  1. If you acting like a bot, please stop. Grow your account organically.  It's not cool and added to that, the chances of you saying something completely irrelevant or unrelated to the pic in your comment is pretty high
  2. Be careful about the hashtags you post. Super popular hashtags tend to attract more auto-comments.
  3. Let Instagram know you are sick of auto-bots and report those that serially offend with promotional auto-comments.

Apparently, Instagram are clamping down on Auto Follow/Unfollow tools. I wish they would add Auto-Commenting to the mix. It's ruining the engagement experience of Instagram and is one of the bad social media tactics that I'd love to see trashed!

Want to share these 5 Tips for Social Media Tactics to Avoid? Here's an Infographic to Pin to Pinterest! 

Please include attribution to SociallySorted.com.au with this graphic.

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4  Adding people to Groups on Facebook without permission

This one should be a no-brainer but it's a bad social media tactic that keeps happening.

As more Facebook Users turn to groups to build community, it's tempting to add friends into new groups.  Please don't do that.

What to do instead:  

  1.  It's polite to invite!  Invite your friends to your group – Don't add them without permission.
  2. Use various means to promote your group – in your emails and on your other social channels.
  3. Remind new members to set their notifications to a level they are comfortable with – either all posts, friends only, or none!

5   Tagging Recklessly

I love the tagging feature on most social platforms – especially Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. When used the right way, it's part of the glue that holds social media together.

But that's just it – it needs to be used the right way, natively as part of your conversation with the right people.

One mistake that I see happen often on Facebook, is tagging people into a conversation when they don't really need to be.   Only do this with a great deal of consideration.

You see, once someone is tagged, you are essentially adding a task to their day. They are being asked to respond or acknowledge it.

Sure, they can ignore it, but that also brings about a decision they have to make … which takes time (and may be awkward if they know you will notice that they don't respond).  And now your tag is an inconvenience.

And of course, be careful with photos – make sure the photo is flattering!  There's nothing worse than being tagged at your worst!

So, Do this Instead: 

  1. Make sure it is a relevant post or something you know they will be interested in.
  2. Tag to congratulate someone (but again, think about whether they will appreciate the tag).
  3. Don't tag people into controversial posts, drama or political posts.
  4. Be careful tagging photos.

Over to You!

Do any of these social media tactics annoy you too?  Do you have one of your own to share?  Leave a comment below.  

5 Social Media Tactics that need to be Trashed
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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About in 2019". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
5 Social Media Tactics that Need to be Trashed
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  1. Mark Brian

    I would add twitter lists to number 4. Auto adding people to lists because they tweeted a keyword/phrase or mentioned you can be annoying.

    • Donna Moritz

      Yes Mark! I only realised that was happening more recently and it is annoying. I have always manually added people to lists – either to better segment who I follow or to give them a compliment but never automated.

  2. Lillian De Jesus

    The Twitter DMs are extremely annoying. I don’t bother with them at all either. These are all great points you’ve listed but the Twitter DMs are the worst! I agree with @markbrian:disqus as well. It’s annoying but sad also when people tag you into a list that’s not even relevant to your work. Great post, Donna!

    • Donna Moritz

      haha I’m glad we agree Lillian (though I am not surprised that you feel the same way!). It’s a shame really as it would be handy to send quick messages via Twitter but I find that I just don’t bother anymore. The classic is the Auto DM inviting you over to another platform to engage. Ummmm no, you are not engaging for real on Twitter, why would I follow you to Facebook or LinkedIn haha. The same can be said for Twitter Lists – I love them for many reasons but the auto-bots are just ruining them, like they ruin everything else!

  3. Daniel Knowlton

    In love with this post Donna!

    I can relate to every single point you’ve made, thank god it’s not just me!

    Thanks again Donna,


    • Donna Moritz

      Great (and social!) minds think alike. Glad you love it Daniel. Feel free to send it to anyone who is behaving badly :o)

  4. Rosalind Kimber

    Oooohhhh I so very much loath bots on Instagram. Be authentic people, it actually works! Great article 🙂

    • Donna Moritz

      Yes it actually does actually work – spot on Rosalind. I am so over the bots. Instagram announced they are clamping down on Follow/Unfollow 3rd party apps but quite frankly I think the auto bot comments are more annoying (both are bad but the auto bot comments are ruining the experience of Instagram and I think that makes it more of a priority).

  5. Nick Katin

    Phew! When I saw your email – I thought I might be doing one or two of these. Seems I’m nowhere near as ‘sophisticated’ as these ‘bots etc. Thanks for the explanation.

    • Donna Moritz

      Great to hear Nick – usually common sense prevails, so you are one of the smart marketers! Sophistication is not always a good thing, for sure, especially when it comes to authenticity and growing a genuine, organic following. Have a great week!

  6. Lisa Balthaser

    Yes to all of them! Totally agree!!! As a matter of fact, I have done numerous blogs and videos on #’s 3 and 5 because they just annoy me to the point of wanting to send them my articles or videos!

    • Donna Moritz

      lol Lisa you totally should share your videos and blogs! Such a great way to send a message!

      • Adaire Palmer

        Finding this article on a FB page where the owner has used a bot to interact on my page has been one of the more ironic situations I’ve come across!

  7. Terry Green

    Thank you! You hit the nail on the head with all 5 of your “don’ts.” I finally stopped looking at my DMs in Twitter a few months ago … it kills me because I’m a bit OCD about it, but – you’re right. All of the others are right on as well. We can only hope that one day they will learn. Now I think I’ll go add a bunch of people randomly to a Facebook group!

    • Donna Moritz

      haha yes I hear you on the OCD…. I decided i couldn’t just check some, it was all or nothing so I ripped the bandaid off and stopped looking. Such a relief!

  8. Wendy Forbes

    Yes, yes, yes! All 5 of these drive me bat-shizz crazy, too.

  9. Fiona Lucas

    OMG – yes and yes. I’ve written about LinkedIn before but the auto posting on twitter and Instagram are a huge issue.

    There are local “experts” promoting some of these as strategies – it does my head in!

    Number 5 really hit a note for me today. I usually only tag if I really want that person to see (and will often message first to ask).

    Brilliant post and I love love that gif!

    • Donna Moritz

      YES! The bad expert advice drives me crazy too… ugh. I think 5 is the least likely of them all to cause problems but can still be annoying… just a little thought before posting and you can usually get it right.. and if you know people well you know if they are happy to be tagged (on FB at least). On Twitter and Instagram it’s a little easier. I love that GIF too… makes me laugh every time I see it!

  10. Fran Kitto

    Donna, You always feed us the good stuff. As a small business, social media coordinator for a club and for my personal family history blogging your comments hold true for all three areas. I am proof that “real” comment and discussion on Instagram achieves much more than bot replies. The other day I saw some of my posts in the top 9 for some of the hashtags I use. The only thing I could put it down to is that the real conversation has been paying off as I have posted daily before.

    Great to have a rant now and again: My pet hate today is the person that parks in front of our rubbish bins so the truck cannot pick them up. Fran

    • Donna Moritz

      Great to hear Fran – organic growth, even if it is slower will mean that you have a quality community on Instagram. Good one (and grrr to the neighbour parking in front of your bins!).

  11. Donna Moritz

    I do believe that if you click “Add Members” it will add them as you invite them so to speak – I could be wrong as I have actually not used that to build my 3000+ member group. However, in your case, if you are asking a friend to join a group you like and it’s just a one off, I would totally just message your friend on Facebook, tell them about the group and send them a link to the group to click and join. It avoids any risk of adding them by accident.

    Alternatively, as a group owner/admin, if you are wanting to grow your own group, then you can use a range of ways to invite without adding: I have always either invited by email footer, in my email newsletters, on other social platforms/social posts etc. I also sometimes send a message on Facebook with a link to the group so all they have to do is click the link and ask to join. And encouraged people to invite friends. I would highly recommend avoiding adding anyone without checking first. It’s slower … but people are asking to join so they are more invested in the process (that’s just my personal opinion). But I do hear back from a lot of people that they hate being added without being asked first so you could still add them, but just ask first and then add a note to the “add members” invite as well. Hope that helps.

    • Adaire Palmer

      I have a ‘sign up’ button on my Facebook page, that leads to my group (of the same name). I average 8 – 10 clicks on the sign up button a week and 40 – 50 new group member requests.

  12. Lisa Kalner Williams

    Honestly, there are my 5 top peeves — with 4 and 5 just recently popping on my list. It was an extra bonus that you gave a shoutout to Agorapulse (TYSM!). I’ll be sharing this and hopefully some of the offenders will read it and take heed 🙂

    • Donna Moritz

      haha glad you liked it Lisa – it’s the cream on top with Agorapulse to be able to wipe out spam like that. Spam killer!

  13. Adaire Palmer

    Hi Donna, great blog! Interestingly enough, I found your blog on a Facebook page after having a conversation with the owner about why she was visiting MY page and putting nonsensical comments on posts (I found her phone number and actually called her). I asked her if it was a bot and she said it was. She commented that any engagement was good engagement and I disagreed with her. I think the prevalence of these marketing tools on social media is counter-productive and just demonstrates laziness (if anyone tells me they don’t have the time to work social media for their biz, I would suggest they are not all that serious about being in biz) on the part of the user. 18 months ago, I would have jumped at the chance to automate then go and sit on the beach for a week waiting for the $$$ to roll in. Now I know better. I do better and strive to connect, develop and build relationships with people. This person (and others) is also doing herself a disservice by not connecting personally as she has a lot of knowledge to share and ends up sharing other people’s knowledge instead (like yours). There is no engagement on her page whatsoever, and I wonder how effective it actually is…I ‘preach’ the alignment of online and offline networking. As a rule of thumb, do not do anything online that you wouldn’t do offline. Would you walk into a networking meeting, flick your cards at people and walk out? No. Then don’t do it on their page or in their groups. Unless it’s speed networking, and there are groups for that also. Do you walk up to people and start talking gibberish in the middle of a conversation? No. Don’t use bots to engage on other peoples pages. Do you go to events and just sit in a corner and wait for the door prize? No. Don’t visit groups to post only on promotion days. Get in and engage, be productive, add value and become a thought leader, not a seagull. (My definition of a seagull: Flys in, craps everywhere and flys out again). Have a wonderful festive season and be a dove, not a seagull 🙂 Cheers, Adaire

    • Donna Moritz

      I love the seagull analogy – I’ve used that before (or they steal your chips too). The bots on Facebook are the WORST – I didn’t even mention them as they are not prolific compared to Instagram but they are there and they baffle me as mostly they make no sense at all. It disappoints me that the people that usually argue the case FOR bots are marketing people. If you point out the problems with it to small business owners they get it – it’s the marketing people that don’t which just baffles me. Sigh. Glad we agree! Welcome to my blog!



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