While we may think of social media as so prevalent and so simple that we don’t give a second thought to it. But it’s constantly evolving not only as new sites and services appear but as new uses for it are created by their communities.

It’s this constant evolution and adaption that has always fascinated me. There’s a fair amount of copywriting work to be found in the social media and it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s this passion for the flexibility and changing nature of social media that was welcomed at the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. I’ve done a lot of work here not only looking at IBC’s already well built social media presence but also the presence of our competitors. Over the weeks of carefully analyzing brands’ social media links, I think I’ve seen a lot of mistakes made by all sorts of brands on social media. Thankfully, Independence Blue Cross is above a lot of these problems.

So may I present, the 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media. This list isn’t about what you should and shouldn’t post, it should (emphasis on should) be common knowledge to not post inappropriate things.

  1. Hidden Social Links: This one is a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many times this happens. If someone has to google search “COMPANY X Twitter” or “COMPANY X LinkedIN” because the links or the path to the links page isn’t clear then there’s a problem.
  2. Social Media Ignorance: Everyone who has worked or even brushed up against Pharma brings up how there’s a lot of people stuck in their ways and you can see that in the social media presence of many of IBC’s competitors in the healthcare and healthcare corporate foundations. But it’s certainly not something that is isolated to healthcare, there are plenty of brands out there that just don’t get it and act like a grandparent being introduced to the concept of texting for the first time. But while 80 year old grandparents might not desperately need to text, a brand-any brand-needs a social media presence or it will wither on the vine.
  3. Useless Social Media: This may seem odd seeing as I just said that all brands need a social media presence but another sin of social media is a social media site that has no use. Where do I see this the most? Google+. I get it, it’s somewhat superfluous and not as respected or used as the “great powers” like Twitter or Facebook. But why have one if you’re not going to at least put the work in to post anything? A page no one uses filled with information is better than a blank page no one uses. That’s damning with faint praise for sure but at the end of the day, it’s the effort that counts.
  4. Lack of Clear Branding: This is a sin for any brand’s presence but it goes without saying that if your Twitter or Facebook page doesn’t adequately portray your brand in the light that you want your brand portrayed then you’re consumers will never see you in the light you want to be seen in. Brands have a very limited control over their image, the rest is in the eye of the consumers.
  5. Industry Terms: Another no brainer that isn’t isolated to advertising/branding/social media but reports or writing filled with industry terms known to the person writing it and their department won’t earn you any love from those that don’t know anything. In any branding problem, ask yourself, does your audience know what you’re saying?
  6. Too Many External Links: While it’s certainly good to have a dynamic page with plenty of proof that a brand is doing many things, too many links to external sources takes consumers away from a brand’s home and therefore, away from a brand’s direct sway.
  7. Social Media Uniformity: The worst of the worst in my book. Brands that treat Facebook and Twitter as the same thing, or Pinterest and Tumblr or any two sites that are even remotely different. When you treat everything the same, you lessen its individual value and therefore, lessen your consumer’s experience in the process.

Spending much of my semester looking at the social media landscape has opened my eyes to the shortsightedness of many brands on social media. But for as many bad examples, there are plenty of good examples of dynamic online brands. And it’s those brands that get me excited for what I could do in the future.