Skip to main content

How to Avoid Being Annoying on Social Media

Time and time again, I see small businesses make this critical mistake on social media: treating social media the same as your website. Here’s why it just doesn’t work that way.

Author: Jeremy Harrison

May 18, 2018

Everyone has an irritating friend, relative or colleague who doesn’t know how to behave in group settings. If you use social media, it happens there too.

If you lead a business or an organization that is on social media, there are a set of unspoken rules that are really easy to miss. Today I want to give you a simple framework to help you understand what works on social media and how to avoid being annoying.  

First, we need to take a minute to understand what social media really IS.

Social media is simply the online equivalent of something humans have been doing from the beginning of time.

Cavemen talking 

We humans are hard-wired for connecting with others, sharing stories, seeking advice, and making new friends. If a caveman had a bad experience with the guy who lives two caves over, chances are he would tell others to steer clear.

But as our world became more complex, our connections with others weakened.

Hundreds of years ago, people were a lot more connected than they are today. They’d help each other plant, harvest, and build. They’d have meals together. They spent a lot more time in the community than we do today.

With electricity, telephones, cars, radio, television, the internet… people became a lot more isolated. They built more comfortable homes with every convenience and had fewer reasons to leave.

But with social media, people are finding connections and building communities in new ways.  Love it or hate it, if you want to make a connection with your customers, you can’t overlook social media because it’s where community is happening.

But every community has a set of unspoken rules.  

how to avoid being annoying on social mediaImagine that you and I both go to the local high school football game. By chance, we end up seated next to each other, and we strike up a conversation. We talk about our families, we realize we have a lot of the same friends, we both share a hobby. Then the conversation moves to work.

YOU: “Don’t you own a local marketing agency or something like that?”

ME: “Yes, we do marketing and websites for local businesses.”

YOU: “Interesting, I probably need to talk to you about getting more leads for my small business.”

Let me hit the pause button on this story…

What would you think, while we’re sitting at that high school game making small talk if I said…

ME: “Leads for your small business? I can most definitely help with that! In fact, I brought my laptop along with me, I have a little PowerPoint presentation and a 3-page handout. I will run through it with you right now… okay, slide #1…”

How are you feeling? Do you WANT my slide deck on my business at the high school football game?  


I know we’d both agree that would be more than a little annoying and overbearing. You aren’t at the football game to talk about work. You’re there to have fun, to watch your neighbor kid play football. To make new friends. Right?

So let’s rewind back and play that last part again.

YOU: “Interesting, I probably need to talk to you about getting more leads for my small business.”

ME: “Hey, sounds great, I’d be happy to help. Feel free to give me a call. We can set up a time to meet next week if you have time.”

These are the unwritten rules of social interaction. Don’t bring your sales pitch to the high school football game, or the bar, or to church for that matter.


Here’s how this applies to social media.

The high school football game is social media. It’s where people go to have fun, to make friends, and to socialize.

You may very well make connections on social media that can lead to business relationships, just like I made one with you at our imaginary football game. And your new friend may want to learn more about how you can help them solve their problem. But not now. Not in the social setting. You’re going to suggest a meeting next week at your office to talk about work stuff.

So the office is your website. It’s where people go to think about work, to see the presentation and consider a purchase. And your customers who are socializing on Facebook are just one click away from your website. They can shift from social mode to work mode with a click.

But because they are only one click away, I see many small businesses blur the lines. And they come off looking like the obnoxious guy at the football game.

When you’re on social media, make connections. Ask questions. Listen to what people are saying. Tell stories. Help people out.  

And surely, invite them back to your website… they’re only one click away. When they get there, you can build on the trust you now have and give them steps to learn more about your business and consider a purchase.

Your website and your social media work closely together, but they have very different purposes. Whenever you aren’t sure where to say something, picture yourself at a high school football game. Decide if that thing you want to say gets said at the game, or saved for a conversation at the office.

Get A Quote

Please answer a few quick questions and we will get you connected with a Spire Account Manager.