Social media faux pas

Here’s a (crowdsourced) list of social media faux pas to avoid.


It’s basically the equivalent of not saying enough but trying to draw on crowds to ask you more details. This activity normally results in the response “U OK hun?” on Facebook.
The problem is, it’s now in our world:
£See this week’s employment law newsletter” or “latest Court decisions in intellectual property”.
These statuses are vague and uninspiring, they won’t compel the reader to open the message which is why your engagement levels are so low. Since you’ve gone to all the effort of writing that article, please write a decent headline and status update.

Cards/images that don’t fit

It’s annoying that every platform has a discrete size of photo that it wants to use for the header image, the shared photo, the preview etc. We get that it’s annoying.
What’s more annoying is when we don’t play by their rules and for our info in so that it’s legible.
In a day and age where you can create a Canva social postcard in just a few minutes, it’s not really acceptable to mess it up.

Gated content

Need to gate your content? Understood.
Need to share tour gated content? Goddit.
Need to warn people that it’s gated before they click through? Yes, yes you do.

72 Twitter accounts for the same organisation

You don’t need to do this. Just use hashtags to allow readers to filter out content.

All tweets and no responses / retweets

It’s called social media, not broadcast. If you don’t comment, you won’t get the reach you want. Please don’t share one piece of content on the hour every hour ad infinitum. Who’s even reading it?


Don’t use social for self-promotion only – you have to use it to engage with your followers as that’s where relationships are formed and new opportunities arise. We have a tool that we’ve developed to see if you’re getting the balance right on Twitter. Please get in touch if you’re interested in that.

Drunk tweeting

Limit your usage of social (using screentime?) Switch off your phone? Frankly, do whatever it takes and avoid drunk tweeting.

#Too #Many #Hashtags #In #Every #Status #Update

#Including #putting #them #on #random #words.

Learn how to use hashtags and they’ll repay you in spades.

P.S. Make sure you use capitals in them too so that they don’t read two ways eg #heroinheels and #nowthatchersdead – the latter of which famously caused a lot of Americans to think that Turn Back Time singer had passed away, when in fact it related to the former UK Prime Minister having passed away.


It’s totally unnecessary.

LinkedIn posts on Twitter

Do one social network well rather than two poorly. It *never* works if you post LinkedIn posts on Twitter.

Buying Followers

Don’t do it. Real followers can tell and will unfollow you. And the social networks will spot your unusually quick growth and punish you too. Better to be influential in a small group than not and surrounded by fake accounts.

Auto connection tools

Some people use auto connection tools to extend their LinkedIn networks and then sell your services by sending your new connections an automated sales pitch. Ever received one? That’s reason enough not to do it. Keep it human.

What have we missed off our list?

Tweet us using the hashtag #socialmediafauxpas or email us suggestions to add to the list.

Writing for the reader’s mindset

What can we learn about engagement/reader’s mindset from the Government’s approach to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill last week?

Every piece of writing should have an objective behind it. When we’ve published it, we need to ask the same question: did it produce the right result? Looking at the Government’s recent attempts to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through parliament, the first thing to do, apart from setting aside the politics for a moment,  ask “Did the approach work?”

It’s hard to say if the approach to the approach to the #WAB succeeded or failed as we cannot be certain of the inner workings of Government. But, let’s assume that their objective was genuinely to get the Bill through Parliament. In which case, the approach failed.

Then the next question to ask is “Why did it fail?” Again, setting aside all the political reasons, our experience is that asking an audience to read too much information in too small a timeframe is almost always bound to fail. There’s a mismatch between content produced and the reader’s mindset.

In the case of the #WAB and its supporting documents, the word count was around 129,251 words or 10 hours 25 minutes and 38 seconds of Total Read Time.

Was it possible to read all the WAB documents that in the timeframe requested? Yes, just as it’s possible to read For Whom The Bell Tolls when you get home tonight (they’re about the same length). But it’s a tall ask and probably going to impact on your routine and result in a lack of sleep.

However, asking an audience to read and reflect on something, to buy into what you’re trying to achieve, well that takes a bit longer. Try writing an essay extolling to virtues of on Hemingway’s masterpiece the morning after cramming it for one night. It’s unlikely to be a classic.

Writing for the reader’s mindset

When reading a piece of writing, the reader:

  • Is only just finding out about the issue; and has a mindset to match (This is the awareness phase: “I’m not ready to make a decision yet, I’m just finding out about this.”); or
  • Is actively looking at the topic and beginning to consider their options but it still in questioning mode (This is the consideration phase: “Why is this an issue for my organisation?” “How do I resolve it?”); or
  • Is ready to act and the piece agrees with a thought/opinion that they already have (This is the decision phase.)

Writing for people at different stages of engagement is essential in order to produce the right result. Look again at the approach to the WAB and you’ll see it was served as a fait accompli and the lack of sufficient opportunity to digest it and then question it or input into it was high risk and quite likely to it fail.

What does this mean for those of us in the legal sector who write?

Turning to the writing and events in the legal sector, our experience is that law firm activities aren’t always drafted for the right phase of the buyer journey. They are also often delivered as broadcast messages and don’t provide opportunities for questions and feedback. One topic may need as many as five or seven articles written around it in order to take people from “I didn’t know there was a problem” to “I need to act”.

In short, do your firm’s articles and events achieve your intended outcome? Do they help your clients and targets take the next steps towards instructing you? Is your article helpful? After all, as Hemingway wrote in his tour de force:

“For what are we born if not to aid one another?”

Something for the Government to think about too.

If we can help or you have any thoughts on this, then please do get in touch.


P.S. Last week, I wrote a piece on how long it would take to read the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and associated documents, which you can find over here.

P.P.S. We’re running engaging writing courses in December and January to make good writers great and help everyone become a social media expert.

How long would it take to read the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

Do we ask people to read too much in too short a timeframe?

It’s not often that word counts and read times make it onto the national news agenda. But we do live in interesting times.

The publication of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill yesterday gave MPs hours in which to read a 115-page PDF document, which contains 45,729 words.

If we consider a normal reading speed of 200 words per minute, then the total time needed to read the whole of the document is 228m38s minutes or 3h48m38s.

Clearly, it is *possible* to read the document within the timeframes set by Government. It is also possible to read the accompanying explanatory notes (52,854 words) although that would require an additional 243m40s or 4h03m40s according to read-o-meter.

Finally, the delegated powers memorandum would take an additional 153m20s or 2h33m20s to read the 30,668 words it contains.

So what are the totals?

So, the total time that MPs need to set aside to read the whole of these documents (129,251 words) is 10h25m38s.

At 129,251 words, this is slightly longer than Atonement by Ian McEwan or Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Although slightly shorter than Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

At 10 hours 25 minutes and 38 seconds, this is more than just slightly above the average time on site for The Government’s website which is 3m06s. That’s a ratio of around 1/200th of the time it takes to read those documents*.

Now, we have a distinct and engaged audience here who will, no doubt have foregone any sleep last night in order to read these entire documents. Probably best to grab a coffee this morning.

For the rest of us, it’s probably better to consider marrying the read time of our outputs to the time our audience is likely to spend on the page. Maybe measure your outputs using a Total Read Time method?


P.S. How long does it take to read this article? 1m44s, since you ask.

*yes, I know that this is a slightly false equivalence as people download the PDF. But as you may already know, I think PDFs should not be used on websites if possible, and certainly not in isolation.

Fancy looking into your competitors’ article analytics?

The power of a little positivity

Fancy a peek under the bonnet at a competitors’ analytics?

Here’s a very quick exercise (then please come back here for the rest of the article):

Please can you click on this:

Then please click on this:

The former is Allen & Overy’s strong piece on “Operationalising data ethics in the financial services sector”

The latter is the stats for that article based on clicks through the Bitly link. It looked like this when I first clicked through:

Allen & Overy statistics

Allen & Overy - geographic statistics

It’s for this reason that using Bitly is a double-edged sword: with the simple addition of a plus symbol at the end of any Bitly url, you can get the read stats and (as you can see in this A&O example above) a detailed timeline to go with it, a geographic breakdown of who has read it and the source of where they read it. You don’t pay for the service, but you can’t then hide your stats if you use it.

In the A&O example above, email and the UK each dominate their respective fields at around 50% each. Your stats are included by the way so A&O will benefit from this article (although the bounce rate may be a little higher as I have asked everyone to click and then come back here).

Please note that this will work in perpetuity for all links shared via Bitly you cannot switch it off unless you are willing to kill off the link yourself which kind of defeats the point of the exercise.

(NB as a point of best practice, please note that in the graph, you can see how A&O’s October 10th tweet of the above article has created a secondary spike of traffic as social drove new traffic to the article. Given that tweets are often only seen by 2-3% of your followers (until they are liked and shared), programmatically resharing tweets like this is good practice. After all, which of us has never been interrupted the first time round but then thought ‘oh okay then, I’ll read it’ when given a second chance or simply?)

Beyond Bitly: Other link shortening services are available

Most other link shortening services don’t allow you to simply run your analytics this way as they are embedded in the overarching product/service. An example of this would be Hootsuite, which would like you to use its shortening service. The analytics for are, unsurprisingly, within the main subscription service. Tiny.url and other services are the same. (from Buffer, my favourite status scheduling service) does allow you to see stats as it uses Bitly as its default link shortener even though they appear to be links.

Branded links don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t see the stats

Some services allow you to create branded links like this:

However, in this case, DLA has simply registered the domain address for and then told the link shortening service that that is the domain to use (as opposed to, say, Bitly/) for any links shortened. But you can still see their stats. Here’s DLA’s graph on a recent article that they tweeted about as I was writing this article.

DLA's link shortening statistics

What can marketers glean from this?

For us as marketers of law firms, we can use these graphs to assemble amazing insights into our own business (in addition to the data you should already be collating from Google Analytics and Search Console).

For marketers, this is also an amazing insight into someone else’s business it shows us:

  • When they first issued the piece
  • Total click-throughs
  • Traffic sources
  • Geographic sources
  • Repeat issue dates/frequency

Which firms are using Bitly right now?

21 of the top 50 largest law firms.

14 of the top 25 largest law firms.

That is a lot of competitor analysis that can be done (which we have done) on what, when, where, how competitors share their articles.

Please note that these numbers don’t include the incidental users who retweet or reshare others’ Bitly links. Those links will also get a bounce from your share and so could be an insight into your read statistics.

You’ve studiously avoided analysing the actual statistics in the case of the Allen & Overy piece. Why?

Simple. There are factors that we’d need to know to determine the piece’s influence. For example: Is this the only Bitly link for this article? Do you share this link internally? Those factors will heavily influence the results. But at TBD, we can analyse them for people and make recommendations.

TL;DR – The pros and the cons of

Pro does allow you a very simple way to link shorten and to analyse statistics (and you can also easily brand them as yours either using a nomenclature or a dedicated domain name)

Con Everyone can see your data. Forever.

Next steps

We help people do better law firm marketing through using their data as a starting point. Get in touch if you’d like to know how.





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