5 Social Media Tactics You Need To STOP To Be Taken Seriously

It can be hard to keep up with social media best practices as algorithms seem to change on an hourly basis, and it can be tempting to try shortcuts to make promoting your web series less of a slog. However, many common social media tactics, while efficient, are actually probably hurting your chance to be taken seriously online. Below are 5 of the worst social media habits I’ve noticed, and what to do instead.

Tagging companies/people/press in photos they aren’t in

I didn’t realize how prevalent of an issue this was before I took over Stareable’s Twitter account, but tagging press and people you want attention from in generic promotional photos of your series is not the way to get them to retweet or interact. Why would a company with no connection to your project and no relevance to the post want to get every single notification associated with said post? All it does is clog up their notifications, making them significantly less likely to want to help you then or in the future.

It’s the more annoying social media equivalent of sending a mass email not personalized at all asking for help with a crowdfunding campaign or asking for press coverage. People want to feel special, as do companies, and if they’re obviously just one of many and you haven’t done any work making sure the post or request is specific to that company’s mandate, they have no reason to help you out.

What To Do Instead: If you want a company or piece of press to know about a post, tag them in a separate reply to it, or DM them the tweet you’d like help with that includes a personalized message as to why they would want to help. Even better, if the company or publication you want promotional help from has covered you in the past, or you’re listed on their site (coughStareablecough), personalize posts using their links (like to an article or your particular listing). Example: “Watch our new episode now! You can find us on Stareable here: [link].” or “Thanks again to The Daily Fandom for this great article about our series! [link to article]. We’re actually crowdfunding now to make more episodes- would you be willing to help us spread the word? [link to crowdfunding]”

Auto DMs for new follows

In theory, setting up a casual-sounding automatic direct message to thank people for following you on Twitter and offering links to your work makes total sense. After all, they’re following YOU, so there’s gotta be some level of interest in your work already.

In reality, it is 100% obvious when it’s an auto-DM message, and it always rings false. It makes you seem less authentic, less legitimate, and less worthy of following because you couldn’t take the time to legitimately personalize a message. Efficiency in social media and marketing is rarely effective.

What To Do Instead: Put in the work. It’s less efficient, but far more likely to actually get you results. Write up your standard template, then personalize each DM you send to the person who’s just followed you. Are they another web series? Are they a fan of more mainstream content that’s thematically similar to yours? Use that as a reason for them to check out your work!

Posting promotional materials without links

If you are going to post a promotional image or GIF or video, especially one with a call to action (“support us on Seed&Spark!” “watch our latest episode!” “stay tuned!”), there should be a link somewhere in the post. I once watched a friend post 17 individual crowdfunding images on her Facebook page over the course of several weeks, and not a single one had the actual crowdfunding campaign link. There wasn’t even a text overlay on the images of the link (example below).

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What To Do Instead: Make it as easy as humanly possible for people to carry out your call to action. Put a link in the tweet text and overlay the vanity URL on the promotional image. The point of a promotional post is to promote, but if someone sees your post and can’t engage further because you haven’t given them a link or a direction, that’s where their engagement with you ends. You don’t want it to end! You want to redirect them somewhere to keep the party going.

Auto-posting Instagram photos to Twitter

I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: stop auto-sharing Instagram posts to Twitter. It looks bad. Especially when the caption gets cut off so it’s not even an intelligible tweet in its own right.

What To Do Instead: Just share the photo on Twitter again. This one’s easy.


Top example: good! Bottom example: bad!

Only posting in communities when you need something

This is the big one, and one that came up several times during the podcast I recorded with Tom Pike about marketing. You cannot expect people to respond favorably to you when you only reach out because you need something, and you also can’t expect people to not know Exactly What You’re Doing. They do. Everyone on the internet knows how the sausage gets made.

What To Do Instead: Engage with communities as a member of them, or as someone who has made something with that community in mind. Then join conversations rather than showing up, posting a link to your content, and ghosting. There’s a reason if you post an out of context promo post for yourself in Community.Stareable.com I immediately take it down and send you a personal message- if I let everyone do that, that’s all the community forum would be! (Looking at you, Web Series Today Facebook group)

Do YOU have examples of social media mistakes you’ve seen other creators make? Let me know in the comments!

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It’s so hard to post about something that’s not an ask, though. Even this is a post just so all my posts aren’t asks.

Hmm. I don’t want to call anyone out, but I will say I’m guilty of the 3rd and 4th “social media tactics.” I have since stopped because I know people need a clear path to follow through on a request AND the shared posts from IG to Twitter are not aesthetically pleasing and don’t allow me to change up captions. Who wants to see the exact same post twice?

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Are you referring to the last bit, about only posting in communities when you need something? Because it’s not that hard, promise! Take a website like this- there are always conversations happening that have nothing to do with promoting. There are folks asking for advice, folks talking about news articles, folks reading and responding to articles (like this!), and just discussing the world of web series as a whole. There are tons of ways that you or anyone can engage and become a member of a community that aren’t simply threads to promote yourself. It takes more work, certainly, as do all of the things in this article, but the benefit is far greater, I promise!

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AGREED. I rather help other people from my experience than just talk about myself. It reminds me why I am a filmmaker in the first place.

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So on 3- I will admit that Instagram makes that difficult, and that I’m not super great at navigating that so far, but even a “link in bio” statement moves people somewhere.

On 4- you are likely going to have slightly different people on both platforms so it’s not the worst thing to put the same image on Insta and Twitter. But also- you probably shouldn’t be posting the exact same content on each platform anyways, or not all the time, because different content does well on different platforms and there needs to be a reason people are following you on each- if I know I get the same info on Insta as on Twitter, then I’m just going to follow on the site I prefer and that hurts follow counts.

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I tend to agree.

A simple thing I do is just keep this site logged in and check for updates every once in a while. If I see something where I can offer up a comment, I do so.

Your input can always benefit people with less/different experience than you.

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Exactly! But also, people are more likely to listen when you do inevitably promote, either organically during a conversation or when you have an exciting thing to announce. Because they have context for you and like you as a person- you’re not just a rando who appears, posts a link, and ghosts :ghost:

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True. I am still experimenting with the “different posts on different platforms” concept and slowly getting the hang of it. They each have their own vibe that’s for sure.

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Because also, specifically the Instagram link on Twitter thing, what are you getting from that? Especially if you’re trying to get someone to, say, go to one of your livestreams or check out your website, you can actually link to stuff on Twitter, so it seems like a waste to post a kinda ugly tweet that leads to an Instagram post, which leads to either a link in the bio or makes them type in their own URL based on your caption/text on the photo. If the point is to promote something, that just seems like an unnecessary step that isn’t aesthetically pleasing or likely to convert many Twitter users, you know what I mean?

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Yup. I want it to be as easy to streamline as possible. For the most part my followers will stay on the platform they prefer, but I want them to know there’s another conversation happening elsewhere if they’re intrigued.

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I should’ve said I can’t really offer advice because I don’t know have any advice to give.

There are tons of other options! Like the “what I did this summer” thread, which I tagged you in (and you added to!), or joining in on discussions that aren’t central to advice. Actually, you’ve got me thinking that maybe I should write a whole article about the different ways you can engage in a community that have nothing to do with self promotion (and yet eventually still lead to self promotion). Would that be something you’re interested in reading?

Yeah. I’ve been reading about promoting and a big thing everyone says is building a following by engaging in online communities. Although, I get the feeling that you just need to be engaged with the content at hand and hopefully you’re inspired to have a unique thought on the matter. But perhaps I could be wrong and that’s why an article would be good on this topic.

Trying to manage social media makes me feel old. There are just so, so, so many outlets. It’s hard enough to come up with fresh content for one platform much less a dozen. I finally started posting on our Facebook page, after a hiatus of over three months. We were editing and I moved and I have a day job…fortunately we only lost 3 followers. Now I have to dig up the Instagram password…

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