How To Avoid A Social Media Faux Pas

Oh, have there ever been some serious social media clangers shared this week.

I get it, it’s really tough for many people out there at the moment. Yes, we all know that this impact will be felt for many months – even years – after the crisis has passed (and it will pass).

You’ve probably been inundated with “don’t stop marketing” messages, so I’ll tell you something slightly different: do keep marketing, but be smart about it. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself before you post:

Question One: Is it true?

Fact check before you share anything. It may add a couple of minutes to your social scrolling time, but it could save the reputation of your business. In this instance, it is NOT better to seek forgiveness than permission.

Emotions are running extremely high (this shouldn’t be news to anyone) and when we’re in a state of emotional crisis our ability to reason out what people are saying to us is massively compromised.

When we are calm and feeling safe, we can register that our feelings are not facts.

When we are in crisis mode, our brains treat everything like it’s life threatening.

The mouth should have three gatekeepers: is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Image via @thedowntheredoc on Instagram

If you trigger this feeling of threat in your followers, it will be incredibly hard for them to differentiate between the perceived threat and the person who (however inadvertently) has caused that sense of threat.

😨 Would you do business with a person or company that has made you feel frightened?

😨 Would you recommend them to any of your friends?

😨 Would you give them any return custom?

The answer is no.

Our mothers were right when they told us “if you can’t find anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.”

Mother knows best.

A vintage poster with the saying "mother knows best"

You can read a rather more scientific explanation of fight, flight or freeze, and amygdala hijack in this wonderful article by Jo Clarke.


Question 2: Is it helpful?

Ask yourself who your post is for? Is it actually for your audience? Are you giving them value (not a sales pitch), or are you posting for yourself, about yourself?

A cartoon of a Facebook page that says "me me me" repeatedly

Now, this isn’t to say that “About Me” and “the person behind the business” posts are out of bounds – they’re not. Everyone has to do an element of self promotion on their social media, but there are softer ways to go about it than sharing a picture of your face with BUY ME stamped across your forehead.

Use your posts to serve your audience 

You don’t need to actively sell your expertise on social media. Just help your followers. This doesn’t mean give everything away for free! It means sharing elements of your expertise with the people who give you the gift of their attention.

A gingerbread house

You’re leaving them breadcrumbs to follow so they can find your beautiful gingerbread house where the magic really happens (and by this I mean they hire you to work your magic, not that you fatten them up and then eat them. I hope that’s clear. But just in case – please don’t eat your customers. Your Google reviews will be terrible, and you may struggle to get business insurance).

If your post has squat all to do with your business and won’t be helpful to your audience, then don’t share it.


Question 3: Is it clickbait?

A meme of Batman slapping Robin. Robin says I wouldn't normally post this. Batman says then don't!

Starting a post with “I wouldn’t normally share this on LinkedIn,” or “Some people will tell me I’m oversharing,” or “This may be controversial,” is the equivalent of a “Posh and Becks share their salacious sex secrets” headline in a tabloid.

Please stop it.

As mentioned above, if it has nothing to do with your business and it gives no value to your followers, then don’t post it on your business profiles! The secrets of your sock drawer are not that interesting.


Question 4: Is it relevant?

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a video of a chap, sitting in his bubble bath ruminating on how he’d always wondered what life was like during the war (thanks, Uncle Albert). This was on LinkedIn.

Polaroid of I Love Lucy against a knife board, with the caption "Captive Audience"

Did this man sell bathtubs? Was he a bathroom designer or fitter? Does he own a bubble bath production company? Is he a glamour model? WHY IS HE NAKED ON LINKEDIN?!

No matter what your business is, please: remain dressed while posting video footage – whichever social media platform you’re using.

In conclusion, your honour: keep marketing, remain sensible, and keep it in your pants.

Need some help with your social media?

You can direct message me on LinkedIn, email me at, or use that old fashioned thing known as a phone: 07446 968 992

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