Have you ever sent a tweet or status that you wish could be taken back?
Jared Del Prete, the director of digital strategy of advertising agency EGC Group, helps hundreds of clients get their social media initiatives back on track. While Del Prete's specialty lies in brand social strategy, the lessons he shared with CNBC can also translate to fit most personal social accounts.
Here are five key social media mistakes to avoid, whether you're a brand or just an avid social media user.
1. Picking a fight
Everyone loves to sit back and watch a fight on social media. But the key to keeping your audience (and your dignity) is to never engage in a social media flight with anyone.
Brands need to be especially cognizant of this rule. "Arguing publicly with a customer will only serve to make your brand look bad," Del Prete explains. His advice? Always show that your company wants to work with the customer to resolve any complaints or issues. "Consistently demonstrate great customer service and other customers will see the value of your brand," he says.
2. Ignoring the community
The failure to listen to or nurture consumers—happy or angry—in a timely manner could prove to be detrimental to a brand. Because social media is such a critical form of communication for brands and consumers, a brand must invest in community outreach to make sure that customer relationships are being handled via social platforms. "While not all brands can provide 24/7 customer service support, it's important to respond to all questions and feedback in a reasonable time frame," Del Prete explains.
3. Broadcasting the same message across all channels
Different networks will require a different quality of tone. Regardless of whether you're managing a brand account with 500 million followers or a personal account with 200 followers, people gravitate to a certain platform for a specific type of experience. Video you've shot for a Snapchat story is not the same type of video you would put on your Facebook page. As a result, the same content often needs to be altered to suit a specific platform's audience.
Still, Del Prete notes that, "beautiful images, dynamic videos with an early hook to draw people in and give them a reason to keep watching … as well as short and sweet content that gets your point across quickly and effectively applies across platforms." Essentially, the rules to good, creative content applies across social networks, while still taking into account each platform's audience.
4. Sharing content that is "off brand"
While it's tempting for brands to jump on trending topics, sometimes it's best to stay away. "Where brands run into trouble is if the content shared is wildly off topic or really inappropriate to the community," Del Prete says. Attempting to participate in the social conversation in a way that doesn't support your company's brand or your personal image can have a negative impact.
Del Prete cites the NYPD's attempt at creating a shareable hashtag. "Do you have a photo with a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD" was the premise of the campaign. The result? Tons of people posted images that didn't portray the police in a positive light.
Essentially, this off-brand Twitter conversation completely backfired on the NYPD.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.
5. Spreading yourself too thin
Creating a presence on every social platform is all well and good … until you need to manage them. Before trying to over-engage, Del Prete advises you ask yourself, "Will you have the manpower/man hours to really manage all of your communities … to write and publish posts frequently and keep your community healthy?" By realistically evaluating your assets and your abilities, you'll be able to decide if you can effectively use any given social platform.