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**:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
** Like false advertising!