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How to lose credibility on a social networking site

Knowing how you can lose credibility on a social networking site can help you avoid making these mistakes, so you can build your business
Written Aug 31, 2010, read 3129 times since then.


One of the interesting realities of social media is that in some ways it's easier to lose credibility on a site than it is to lose it in person. I personally think the reason for that is simple. It all boils down to the fact that you have a semi-permanent medium of text, which people can look at and reference. If you make a mistake via text it can stay with you a lot longer, if people know where to look. Regardless, losing credibility isn’t something anybody wants to experience, so if you know how you can lose credibility, it can be worth looking over your posts to help you avoid losing it.

Reason 1: Typos

You’d think a pesky little issue such as spelling would be forgiven in the age of texting, but it's not, especially if it's clear that you are trying to use an actual word and you spell it wrong. In an age of spell check, people are much less forgiving if they notice typos in your writing, whether in your social media or on your website. Make the effort to scan what you’ve written for misspelled words, and also for missing words. Don’t rely on spell check alone, which will miss some words. By making this effort, you will ensure that the impression people have of you is one of articulate intellect, which is always a good impression to make with possible clients.

Reason 2: It’s all about you

Nobody likes to be around a person who just talks about him/herself. Narcissism isn’t that attractive except to the person listening to him/herself. It’s okay to post about what you are doing, but mix it up with some responses, retweets, and show interest in other people. You’d be surprise what’ll happen when people realize you actually want know about them as opposed to just pushing your own agenda. People want to know that you are interested in their problems and needs, as opposed to just promoting your business, so make the effort to find out about them!

Reason 3: Hard selling

Social media is about soft touch, not hard selling. Use social media to do research and make initial contact. Learn about the person and at some point, try to set up an appointment via phone or in person and then make your pitch. But use social media to create the social context that allows you to make that pitch, instead of trying to pitch people on social media. By making time to establish a relationship and do research on the business, you'll make a really good impression when you do have that in-person or phone meeting, and when you make your pitch, you'll make it from an informed place, instead of desperation for a sale.

Reason 4: No engagement

If you never respond to someone else, it makes a person wonder if you are really involved or if you just have everything set up on auto-pilot. Engagement is a sign that you are actually involved and interested in what people have to say and offer. Engagement is a sign that you can actually form and maintain relationships with people on social media, and consequently also in offline communications.

These are just a few reasons people lose credibility on social media sites. What are some reasons you would add? What do you look for to tell you if someone is a spammer?


Learn more about the author, Taylor Ellwood.

Comment on this article

  • Graphic Designer/Marketing Specialist 
Portland, Oregon 
David Sparks
    Posted by David Sparks, Portland, Oregon | Sep 01, 2010

    Nicely done! I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks!

  • Digital Catalyst 
O'Fallon, Missouri 
Kelly Ross Kerr
    Posted by Kelly Ross Kerr, O'Fallon, Missouri | Sep 01, 2010

    Bravo! Social Media 101. Nicely done.

  • President - Software Knowledge 
Nashville, Tennessee 
Steve Kozy
    Posted by Steve Kozy, Nashville, Tennessee | Sep 02, 2010

    Excellent recap and well written. A reason I would add: #5 Start a great effort with good content, then don't post for 3 months because you didn't plan how to find the time to keep it going.

  • Blogger 
Marysville, Washington 
Kimberly Gauthier
    Posted by Kimberly Gauthier, Marysville, Washington | Sep 02, 2010

    This is a fantastic article and so very true. Thanks for sharing.

    I've worked at making my photography blog unique by adding more of myself so that my readers feel that I'm a friend who's writing. But if all I write about is me, then what's the point of calling it a photography blog.

    I'm going to start inviting guest bloggers (with subjects about photography), I'm a little nervous about this, but I love new things and nothing ventured nothing gained.

    Thanks for another great article.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Sep 02, 2010

    Hi Steve,

    That's a good reason as well. Another one I would add is the necessity of being careful about writing something when you feel upset.

    Hi Kimberly,

    Inviting guest bloggers can be a good idea. I'm sure it will work out well for you.

  • Small Business Strategist and Marketing Consultant 
Eastport, New York 
Beth Schecher
    Posted by Beth Schecher, Eastport, New York | Sep 03, 2010

    Good article. For many this may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many people fall into the traps that you discuss.

    Even social media needs a plan.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Creater of the ScooPup Pocket, Makes Picking Up After Your Dog Cleaner and More Convenient 
Seattle, Washington 
Bette Allen
    Posted by Bette Allen, Seattle, Washington | Sep 03, 2010

    Great article Taylor, thanks. I've been blogging for less than a year, so it's nice to know that I've been using the same guidelines that you have listed.

  • Change Management Professional, Quality Engineer, and Drupalizer 
Grapevine, Texas 
Marc Martinez
    Posted by Marc Martinez, Grapevine, Texas | Sep 03, 2010

    Outstanding article Taylor! I'm new to Social Media and I'm getting ready to start blogging, so this is very timely.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Sep 03, 2010

    Hi Beth,

    Social media definitely needs a plan. Many businesses just jump on and use it, but don't consider how their use will benefit growing their business or any of the other facets of business that are important to consider.

    Hi Bette,

    Thanks very much. What's your blog about?

    Hi Marc,

    What will you be blogging about?



  • Entrepreneur  
San Antonio, Texas 
Thomas Retterbush
    Posted by Thomas Retterbush, San Antonio, Texas | Sep 04, 2010

    I liked your article. Even though a lot of the points are pretty much common sense, you did put a nice spin on them and people need to be reminded of them every once in a while.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Sep 07, 2010

    Hi Thomas,

    Thank you very much. They are common sense points, but it is good to remind people.



  • Yoga/Health Activist & Advocate 
Seattle, Washington 
Karen Whittier
    Posted by Karen Whittier, Seattle, Washington | Sep 07, 2010

    I appreciated your social media tips.

    Thanks for the primer Taylor!

  • Owner 
Los Angeles, California 
Jon Wyderka
    Posted by Jon Wyderka, Los Angeles, California | Sep 08, 2010

    The advice is on point. You obviously understand the "social" part of social media. Someone has said, "it's easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar". Showing others your warm social side can only help you when you eventually earn the right to get down to business. - Jon Wyderka -

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Sep 08, 2010

    Hi Jon,

    I think "getting" social media boils down to understanding the social aspects. Glad you liked the article!

  • writer, coach 
Sanford, Florida 
Roxana Nunez
    Posted by Roxana Nunez, Sanford, Florida | Sep 13, 2010

    Cursing, cursing, cursing. Nothing to me makes you less interesting than cursing. To me cursing shows a lack of creativity. Today you can open any free thesaurus while you are on your preferred social media site and look for synonyms to your favorite curse words. You look smarter and you avoid the cliche.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Sep 13, 2010

    Hi Roxana,

    That's a good one to point out. I completely agree.

  • Commercial Video Service  
Kennesaw, Georgia 
neil lemon
    Posted by neil lemon, Kennesaw, Georgia | Dec 04, 2010

    Thank you Taylor for that great advice. I am new here and I want to make sure I don't present myself as a one way street on this business social site. Keep it coming buddy.