How to Use Social Media to Annoy Your Customers

customer don'ts social media

“But why would I want to annoy my customers?” you ask. You wouldn’t. Unfortunately, even the most successful brands have been known to send fans running when they decide to adopt one of the following tactics:

Make your customers feel ignored.

Imagine the following scenario: you’ve been a business’s loyal customer for a number of years, but you recently had some pretty lousy service. You send them an email or call them up to lodge a complaint and let them know about the incident, but nobody answers the phone during business hours or your email doesn’t receive a response. Odds are, your loyalty would wane at least a little bit.

This is what happens when customers post on your Facebook wall or tweet at you, only for their words to fall on deaf ears. As of October 2011, a study found that 70 percent of companies on Twitter weren’t responding to customer complaints. Imagine if 70 percent of companies just didn’t answer the phone — ever. With more and more communication happening via social media, that’s basically what you’re doing by ignoring tweets and comments.

Respond defensively to criticism.

Remember our cautionary tale about Yelp, featuring a restauranteur from Scottsdale with…well…let’s call it a short fuse? If not, here’s our example of what not to do (just to refresh your memory):

If you’re looking for a way to alienate your customers, calling them insane is a good place to start. But most of you probably don’t want to alienate your customers, which means you don’t want to get defensive when you run into a critical viewpoint of your product or business practices. Think of it as market research – how can you adapt to consumer wants and needs?


You may think it’ll seem like a nice gesture when a customer opens their new direct message on Twitter to find an automated “Thanks for following!” message. That’s not how it seems. How does it seem? It seems…well, like an automated message that goes out to every single one of your new followers. Your customers appreciate genuine gestures to reach out and connect with them. Mass, automated messaging defeats the purpose of social media.

“Automated direct messaging is a very, very bad idea,” says our CEO Shama Kabani. “Please stop.” There are plenty of ways to make your followers feel important. Auto DMs, however, may have them reaching for the “unfollow” button.

Auto-post your tweets to Facebook.

It’s fine to convey similar messages with your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Honestly, the messaging should be fairly consistent for the sake of your branding. However, the solution isn’t checking the box that auto posts your tweets to Facebook (also not the solution: auto-posting your Facebook activity to Twitter).

First of all, you should be making use of Twitter hashtags whenever possible. Hashtags do not translate to Facebook. You may potentially end up looking confused. Second, the two networks have different user demographics. While Twitter users are used to seeing multiple tweets per day from the same accounts, Facebook users may find that amount of information spam-like. Finally, there are those users who have both Facebook and Twitter. You want to give them a reason to pay attention to your activity on both networks – and you’re not giving them a good reason if your activity on both networks is identical.

What do you think is the biggest social media brand don’t? Leave us a comment to let us know!

Photo via Flickr

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  • mark omohundro

    I think that tweets from smaller brands that constantly say things like “Happy Wednesday” are very annoying! I unfollow those types of people immediately.

    • Amy Rose Brown

      Excellent addition to the list!

  • Liz Provasi

    I personally get annoyed with brands that tweet 15 times in one minute! To me, it looks like they decide what they want to tweet and then just do a bunch all at once and that is it for the day. To me, it seems like they can’t take the time to use a free social media platform that can auto post and spread out tweets throughout the day, even if they write them all in the morning. It bombards customers and is extremely ineffective.

    • Amy Rose Brown

      You’re right, that’s a completely ineffective strategy. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marie Wiere

    This is a great post!

    It’s hard to pick one social media don’t. I would add to your list: brands that repost old content over and over and brands that post meaningless drivel with typos so frequently that it becomes spam like.

    • Amy Rose Brown

      Thank you, Marie!