As a marketing professional, I use social media for business purposes. This means I’ve logged a lot of hours on all platforms over the years. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, what is a waste of time and money, and poor practices. Here is a list of my social media pet peeves and misguided tactics that aren’t helping you build your brand.

1. You’re a professional athlete, not self-employed. If you are a professional rider, please stop describing yourself as ‘self-employed’ in your social media bio. Write instead “Professional dressage athlete, clinician. Owner at ABC Equestrian”. Humility is wonderful but when it comes to marketing, you need to present the best version of yourself. Don’t sell yourself short.

2. Paying to get more ‘likes’. If a marketing company advises you to ‘buy likes’, fire them immediately. It’s at best, a waste of money. What’s the point of having 1 million followers if none of them care about your business? You want to grow your social media with real fans and potential clients. The only way to do that is by posting compelling content and authentic engagement.

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3. Spam in comments. Are you the kind of business that comments “You’d look great in X bracelet!! Check out my account” on a regular basis? That’s why they invented the BLOCK feature. Bye.

4. Following and unfollowing accounts. This is another tactic used by sleazy marketers that consists of following a bunch of accounts hoping they will follow you back… unfollowing them, following another bunch of accounts, unfollowing, etc. There’s no true interest, no authentic connection. If you’re doing this, you’re doing social media wrong.

5. Tagging accounts on your Instagram posts just for attention. I don’t know if people are clueless or they think it’s working but this happens daily. If I have nothing to do with the post or your business…why do you keep tagging me in your photos???? It’s unprofessional and annoying. Please stop. If you see a marketing professional doing this, do not hire them to run your social media EVER.

6. Taking someone’s image, cropping out the watermark and passing it as your own. Ta-dah! Aren’t you clever? It’s not only a sh*tty practice, but it’s also copyright infringement.

7. Using images without permission. Taking another account’s images without permission and posting them on your own channel, even with accreditation [camera emoji: name of photographer], is copyright infringement. You can share and re-share a post but not screenshot and re-post. Shoot your own images or ask for permission.

8. Automatic DM on LinkedIn or Twitter as soon as we connect. You have taken zero time out of your day to understand what I do or what my needs are but you want me to pay attention to you immediately. OK, good luck with that. Business relationships are developed through trust and credibility. Earn those first before trying to sell me.

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9. Posting images with too much text. Unless it’s a quote (inspirational quote, etc.), the images you post on social media should have zero to very little text. That’s what captions are for. You should be using each platform natively, as close to how the users of that particular channel do, so your content doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb (in a bad way).

10. Posting without any brand direction. From horse memes to viral videos, you might be getting engagement with generic content but there’s nothing particularly distinctive that ties everything to your brand. You think you’re killing it on social media, when in fact, you’re not adding any value to your brand. Have a plan, have a direction, and make sure your posts are ‘on-brand’.