There are few greater joys in a marketer’s life than experimenting with a new technique—and having it work like a charm.

You feel like a cross between a scientist, an artist, and a magician, am I right?

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After doing a little celebrating, you officially add the tactic to your repertoire, update your dashboards, and then probably start searching for the next thing to try.

And because you’re always looking forward, you might not notice that technique that worked so well when you first used it? Well, it’s become pretty old-fashioned. Even, dare I say, obsolete.

With this in mind, we wanted to take a look back and tactics that may have worked in 2012 or 2013, but aren’t quite so effective nowadays.

Let’s get started…


We’ve rounded up five social media tactics that are ready to retire. (The good news: Once you’ve cut these loose, you’ll have more time for the tactics of the future!)


1. Linking to influencers just so they’ll share your content

There’s no one set way to do influencer marketing, but there are a few techniques that don’t quite feel right. In the second camp? Linking to an influencer or quoting that person as an expert solely in the hope they’ll share their content.

This technique usually backfires. First, it’s pretty obvious to the influencer what you’re doing—so rather than adding value to their life, there’s a good chance you’ll go unnoticed and pass under their radar.

But worse, it makes your content less useful to your audience. Keri Morgret, a content manager for, says she’s read multiple lists of “top experts for X” that include names of people who haven’t worked in the relevant industry for years.

What to do instead:

Think quality, not quantity. Before you link to someone else’s post or cite them as an expert in a round-up, ask yourself, “Will this benefit my readers?”

If the answer is yes, you’re in good shape. That means their content or expertise is an optimal fit for your audience—so you’ll benefit whether or not the influencer promotes it. However, there’s a strong probability they will promote it; after all, when you’re genuinely enthusiastic about what someone has to say, it’s pretty flattering. And if the post is high-quality, sharing it will benefit the influencer’s brand as well.

You should also consider limiting the number of people you link to per post. It’s hard to feel special when you’re one of 20 influencers mentioned; being one of two influencers, on the other hand, is much more flattering.

Finally, use the love people have for their own names to your advantage. You could link to someone’s content like so:

Meditate before a job interview to calm your nerves.

Or, you could write:

Daenerys Targaryen, a career coach (and meditation enthusiast!), recommends meditating before an interview to calm your nerves.

If you were Daenerys, which version would you be more eager to share? My hunch is the second one.


2. Making a strict employee social media policy

Some companies have social media policies so lengthy they get their own binders. Zappos, on the other hand, has a policy so short it could fit on a Post-It: “Just be real, and use your best judgment.”

If you’ve got an incredibly strict, detailed employee social media policy, it might be time to drop all the clauses and provisions and follow Zappos’s lead. After all, if you give your team members more freedom, they could turn into your most passionate brand advocates— encouraging your employees to share makes them 31% more likely to publicly make positive comments about you and 24% more likely to recommend your products. The average employee has 10 times the number of followers as your corporate network, and 90% of those followers don’t know your brand.

Appcues Employee Advocacy

What’s more, 92% of people trust recommendations from their friends and family more than any other advertising. That means the way to your future customers’ hearts? It’s through your employees!

What to do instead

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a policy (in fact, the majority of companies do.) But rather than laying down the law, try creating your policy with your employees.

15Five, for example, held an all-hands meeting to figure out their target persona. With a unified vision, team members could post their own content with confidence.

You can also work together to figure out best practices. Your employees will probably have a ton of ideas you haven’t thought of; plus, being part of this process means they’re far likelier to buy in.

Finally, instead of stifling your employees’ voices, encourage them to be themselves. A genuine post goes much further than a forced, buzzword-y one.


3. Only sharing  text and image updates

Images and text can still drive engagement, but social video is becoming too important to ignore.

Not only will video swallow up 69% of consumer internet traffic by next year, but watching videos about products is four times more popular than reading about them. And here’s the doozy: 25% of consumers will lose interest in your brand if it doesn’t have video.

So, safe to say video is important. Unfortunately, many brands are letting this screen revolution play on without them—as we found, less than 1% of their Facebook posts feature videos.

Facebook Video

What to do instead

If you haven’t already integrated video into your content marketing strategy, now’s the time!

Need some guidance? Wistia’s Alyce Currier has put together an incredibly handy video guide for brands. She says repurposing the same videos across your platforms is fine to start, but to maximize video’s potential, create customized content for each network.

Take Facebook. Since the vast majority of video views are silent, creating content that can stand without sound is crucial. When you make YouTube videos, on the other hand, incorporating audio is necessary for engagement.


4. Sending automated messages when someone follows you

Imagine a stranger smiles at you. You smile back—and then, they walk over and say, “Hey, could I have 10 bucks?”

I don’t know about you, but that interaction would feel pretty manipulative to me. But sending an automated messages to new followers is essentially the same thing—not only does the lack of personalization show that you don’t care about them as an individual, it also says you care way more about what they can do for you than the other way around.

Automated Message Twitter

What to Do Instead:

Have real, meaningful interactions with your followers. Like and retweet their content. If they mention your brand, send a reply (and give it a personal touch!).

As Ash explains, “It feels amazing to know that our favorite brands and personalities value our custom and support. And sometimes all it takes to show that is a personal response.”

This strategy definitely requires more time, energy, and resources than setting up a trigger so every new follower gets the same message. But remember that stranger from the example? What if, instead of asking for money, they’d asked you to dinner—and then spent the next couple months slowly getting to know you. You could develop a permanent friendship. Similarly, if you take it slow with your customers, they may stick around for life.


5. Asking people to share your content

You’ve worked hard to create an awesome piece of content—and naturally, you want as many people to see it as possible. So, along with sharing the link on social media, you ask your contacts to post it on their own networks.

The problem? This request puts your connections in a really awkward spot. Saying no feels pretty uncomfortable (after all, you’re asking for a share, not a kidney), but they might want to for any number of reasons: the content doesn’t work with their brand, audience, or social strategy; they don’t agree with everything it says; or they simply resent being asked.

In the end, this strategy might help you get more views on, say, a blog post or Slideshare—but your professional relationships will take a hit. (Want to brush up on social media etiquette? Check out the 29 most common rules and which ones you should actually follow.)

What to do instead:

You want people to link to your content because, well, they want to. With that in mind, focus on making it as shareable as possible.

A recent analysis of 65,000 articles found that a piece’s virality comes down to two main factors: arousal and dominance. In plain English, arousal means “riled up.” Both anger and excitement are high-arousal emotions. Dominance, on the other hand, is the feeling of being in control. When you’re inspired or joyful, you’re experiencing high dominance; when you’re scared, you’re experiencing low dominance.

Articles that perform the best on social use a high-arousal, high-dominance combo. What would that look like? Well, a photo of Vin Diesel with his daughter racked up 8.1 million interactions (making it the fifth most popular Facebook post of 2015), thanks to the strong, positive emotions it generated. But strong, negative emotions can be powerful too—take the Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign, which put a spotlight on low self-esteem.


Over to you

I’d love to hear how your social media strategy has evolved.

  • Which tactics have you stopped using?
  • Which techniques have you recently added to your roster?
  • Is there anything you’ve been doing since the beginning that’s still working really well?

Can’t wait to read everybody’s responses!

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Written by Aja Frost

College student by day, freelance writer and content strategist by night. Say hi on Twitter!

  • WHAT?!? This post has been up for 2 days and no comments yet? Well, I’ll chime in.
    Great topic here Aja! There are so many tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years and sometimes they need to get brushed off. Change is the only guarantee in our industry. I most like the automated message part. I turned off mine about a year ago. When I get them, I read about 5% of them. If someone follows me, I want it to be for my content. Video is a must in today’s web and is in the works for most of my clients this year. Thanks for a super post and I’ll be sharing with my network today. Enjoy a wonderful Wednesday all you Bufferroos! 🙂 @stevehedstrom:disqus @HedstromMedia

    • Aja Frost

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Glad ya chimed in. 🙂

      I agree, social media is defined by change. It’s exciting (we always get to experiment) but also challenging (like when your favorite technique randomly stops working, haha).

      Is there anything I left out that you’d add to the list?


  • Hi Aja,

    I have to say that video wins hands down. I’ve been doing it for years sparingly and it always gets attention. As long as it is a short video and I do note ‘this is a two minute’ video – people will take the time and watch it…even respond. Video is getting more and more popular especially in the social media. I have to begin Facebook Live stream!

    When it comes to people following me, I find that they just do. I never wanted to tell anyone to pleas share… Instead, I like to encourage folks to comment on my blog giving them a friendly call to action, just like you did here.

    One of my pet peeves is people doing that influencer thing! I get tons of emails from people I never heard of telling me they mentioned me in their latest blog post. Hugh! I just ignore it because I know what they are up to lol.

    Awesome post!


    • Aja Frost

      Hi Donna,

      I’m really excited to experiment with videos more myself! I love the short, info-packed ones—from “Four Quick Tips to Ace Your Next Speech” to those Buzzfeed cooking ones.

      And it sounds like your own techniques are definitely up-to-date! 🙂


  • I do less blogging (hate to write) and more video, live video, etc. I do less broadcast emails and more sequence emails (add to end of sequence). I’m adding in snapchat, periscope. Going to do webinars. I never really went for guest blogging, influencers or spamming people. Based on my analytics, driving traffic from Facebook, Pinterest to lead magnet where I sell via an email sequence seems to work best.

  • Interesting topic. I hear lots of feedback about video and agree. But what videos work best? I’m curious what your readers find most engaging online. Love the live video feeds that are going around and well produced quick videos that really get down to the details quickly. Being able to adapt quickly to the changes online and experiment with new ideas can be a game changer online so mix it up, review results and respond quickly to keep followers coming back.

  • Hi Aja,

    Finally, someone who has nailed a couple of my pet hates!

    I have always felt uncomfortable about the ‘influencer marketing’ strategy and have never really adopted it as it always felt false to me. Quite apart from anything else, most influencers I know are far too busy to respond to awfully written pieces which contain their name.

    The second is the automated response when following someone on Twitter or LinkedIn. You are right, not only does it feel uncomfortable but I assume people are like me and simply ignore them now.

    So, thank you for this piece and I will share it next on social!

    And if you are looking for some inspiration for your next piece, how about another current marketing ‘favourite’ of throwing email sign up pop ups in front of your reader? This is currently my number one hate, to the point where I now refuse to share some content because of the over intrusive pop ups. There’s a very well known SEO ‘expert’ who currently does this and I won’t share any of his articles, no matter how good the content, simply because it is a truly awful user experience. The sooner this fad passes the better for us all!


  • Sylvia

    I really like this article. Great things to know whether if you’re new or a pro on sharing. This is great advice and I guess I never thought about the quality of my interactions and will keep this in mind.

    I’ve also read a lot of your articles in Muse and those are great as well. Keep on writing!

  • Flo

    Pretty good article, I like it.
    I realized a while ago that I seem to get more interaction when I post videos on our company’s social media outlets, however it is quite hard to create new content, while it is quite easy to snap a pic or two…

    How do you feel about asking your fans’ opinions on something? For example, you post a picture (or video 😉 ) of a new product and ask them if they liked it.
    It never seems to work for us, since we hardly get any feedback, but I kind of want to keep trying to get our fans to engage.

  • Great post! We’re making a big push for video on all of our social channels at Instapage because of the reasons directly above. Influencer outreach is another big one and just randomly sending a tweet at them doesn’t cut it. You need to have a long-term nurturing plan in place. Build real relationships, not just a one night stand.
    Next step is to get more employee social media engagement and having a policy in place to make sure they’re helping the company (without sacrificing their own personalities).

  • Emily Rose Dallara

    Really fab post. I need to really incorporate video into my content marketing but am terrible at making videos. I am a complete wordsmith and seem to be graphically challenged, so struggle to envisage how a video would play it’s part in my content. Any tips? I write about balanced lifestyle and the posts revolve around trying to be happy and do what you like with no restrictions; recipes/workouts/insightful content Thanks!

  • Awesome article you got there. Social media is one web of unpredictability so sticking to one strategy is always never enough. Automated messages might be the hype years ago since it could save precious time you could rather allot to other marketing campaigns, but it would only generate less engagement between social media user because they might feel it to be too impersonal. Also, asking people in sharing your content nowadays would only gather negative reactions.

  • I am SO happy my intro into Content Strategy was via Healthcare Social Media….this was SUCH an authentic path into a Medium that can be highly automated. Thanks for the article Aja!

  • Drake Nicholson

    Great article , Looking forward to your new articles 🙂