3 Things PR Agencies Should Avoid with Social Media

By Matt Culbertson

There are a number of basic headline strategies for driving Web traffic. Among them — titling any online post with a “top something” list. Perhaps speaking out against the standard “top” numbers, there’s a site called 11points.com, which compiles only lists of 11*.

Driving Web traffic with headlines isn’t on this list — but here are the three things that communications professionals should avoid with social media — aside from the obvious things, that is**:

  1. Artificially inflating Twitter ratios. Write a computer program that follows lots of people, and keep it running for six months. After a while, un-follow almost everyone so you have 10,000 followers but only 100 people you actually follow. People will look at the account and say, “Wow! This person has something interesting to say.” This happens all the time.
  2. Digitally altering photos. It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid posting photos to Twitter or Facebook that have been significantly altered, such as when a person was photoshopped out of the picture. There may be exceptions, like when restaurants photoshop a martini glass to promote a drink special on their Facebook page (since it’s generally accepted that those photos are tampered with). The best policy to follow? Post photos to social media accounts as if you were submitting them to a member of the media. If the photo was altered, disclose it.
  3. Sockpuppeting. According to Tech Dirt — citing leaked documents from the cybersecurity firm HBGary — the U.S. military is planning to fill up social networks with fake accounts for the purpose of targeting security threats. (For more on this, see this article). Can we prove that firms are creating fake Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote brands online? Yes, it just depends on who you try to prove is doing it. Here’s an example of five remarkably similar women on Twitter promoting sketchy products. Do they exist in real life? Probably not.
    1. http://twitter.com/AlexaMathews82
    2. http://twitter.com/GenesisFulton84
    3. http://twitter.com/GiannaMorgan90
    4. http://twitter.com/MyaRodgers82
    5. http://twitter.com/CamilaShaw81

*I’m a big fan of top five and top 10 lists. See here and here.

** Like false advertising!

This entry was posted in Limelight PR. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 3 Things PR Agencies Should Avoid with Social Media

  1. nkumarat says:

    I had no idea that people would abuse Twitter and/or Facebook to gain more followers for business purposes. I think that people should not alter photos that they post on social media websites. I think that celebrities, for example, should post “raw” pictures on their Twitter page because it makes fans feels like they are more connected.

  2. kdoyle3 says:

    I think that artificially inflating Twitter ratios is a recipe for disaster. I think that this method is not only unethical, but not very sensible either. Although people may be surprised and intrigued at first with someone’s number of followers, it is up to the tweeter to decide if it is worth it for them to follow a certain Twitter account. After a while they may not see it as worth their while and “unfollow.” At the end of the day, you want to follow people because their tweets are interesting, and if the interest is not won over, it gets lost. Followers are not the only component needed for Twitter and I think many people forget this at times.

  3. afleisha says:

    Great advice! It’s frustrating to see that numbers one and three occur all the time, even by professional agencies! When a client doesn’t understand social media (and the ethics involved), questionable practices don’t have accountability, since no one understands what is going on. I think that consumers (and clients) need to become more educated about these types of issues or else agencies will continue to dupe clients with false results and metrics.

Comments are closed.