Antisocial Media: A Guide to Not Connecting, Not Engaging and Not Succeeding

What are the best ways to fail to connect with your audience, enrage your customers and annoy any potential new business? Opportunities abound for alienating clients and the general public via social media, and plenty of companies have seized those opportunities in recent years.

Incompetent public handling of customer service complaints is one approach. By ignoring repeated tweets or posts to your company’s Facebook page about inconsistent service or product malfunction, you can worsen your relationship not just with the customer who is complaining but with everyone who sees the complaints. A more subtle but equally infuriating tactic is to refer the person to a customer service number or account that they have already reported a lack of response from. You can look even more incompetent by responding to some customers and not others. Finally, if you really want to level up, argue with unhappy customers on social media rather than apologizing and attempting to fix their issues.

You can also irritate people by only using your social media accounts to blast out announcements about your products and services with no other interaction. Not only will you look spammy, but you’ll also fail to establish relationships. No one will bother to follow or like your accounts or read your posts. A variation on this is sending direct messages to anyone who follows your accounts encouraging them to purchase your product or immediately following up a connection made on social media with requests to like your Facebook page or buy your product or services.

There is also a lot of scope for your company to be downright creepy on social media. Take the tactics of targeted advertising a step further to give your potential customers the feeling that you’ve been doing the equivalent of eavesdropping from the next table over in a restaurant in order to sell your product or even better, stalking them. Many people have indicated that they find very personalized ads feel invasive, so be sure to seize on particularly personal types of search terms rather than sports teams, places and the like. For example, arrange to inundate people who use “pregnancy test” as a search term with ads for baby products. You can also try butting into conversations on Twitter when you detect two people chatting have used a search term that is relevant to your business. Make people feel as though you have little respect for their privacy and might fail to safeguard their own sensitive information.

If you have tried many of these tactics and still feel you’ve failed to alienate as many people as you’d hoped, you can always fall back on boring your clients and customers. Use meaningless corporate-speak to obscure what it is your company really does and what you can do for your customers. Let your social media accounts gather dust and then suddenly return them in a flurry of posting for a day or two before appearing to forget about them again. Tweet outdated or irrelevant information. If other social media accounts or customers attempt to engage with you, ignore them. At all costs, avoid giving the impression that there is a real and interesting personality behind the social media accounts.

In all seriousness, it’s astonishing to look at all the ways that companies can get it wrong on social media. Some of those errors result from a lack of understanding about the platforms and the medium, but some are just about basic common sense. Once you begin to think about social media in the same way that you do about other types of interaction, you realize that just as you wouldn’t turn up to a networking event and spend the entire time shouting about what your company does, you shouldn’t do the same on social media. You also wouldn’t immediately launch into a sales pitch within seconds of being introduced to someone new. Similarly, you wouldn’t randomly ignore half the customers in any given line while giving your full attention to others. Social media may look like a brave new world of customer interaction and doing business, but it still requires the same old-fashioned courtesy that customers and clients expect offline.

Originally published at on August 23, 2015.