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Bad social media posts have the power to offend, upset, humiliate, and belittle. Ill-thought-out posts can really land you in hot water

What you shouldn’t post on social media

One of my many passions is to teach business owners about the type of content that they should be posting to their social media accounts. The type of social media content that gets them noticed – for all the right reasons!

When you discover your ultimate formula for always nailing your social media posts, you’ll experience amazing results, wonderful levels of engagement and a business that attracts lots of leads from your ideal customers.

But what if you get noticed – for the wrong reasons?

Bad social media posts have the power to offend, upset, humiliate, and belittle. Ill-thought-out posts can really land you in hot water, damaging your brand beyond repair and depending on what the social media post contains, you could end up facing a fine.

My tips on what to do moments before you press that publish button

Before I show you some jaw-dropping examples of what not to do, I want to share with you some quick advice on how you can prevent any bad social media ending up in your customers’ newsfeed.

  • Pause for a second. Re-read the content. Is it possible that it can offend? Is it inclusive?
  • Check the image. Are you breaking any copyright rules? Does the image need you to mention its source? If in doubt, head to a royalty-free site such as Pixabay or Unsplash, or even better, use one of your own.
  • Check any facts. A quick 2 mins on the internet to check something you’re not sure of is so valuable. Always head to a trusted source.
  • Check your image. If you’ve taken it from a site, check it is what you think it is. If in doubt, don’t use it.
  • Research every hashtag. Many popular ones have been misused and have been banned – be careful not to associate yourself with these. And as you’ll see in example 8 below, when you get it wrong, you can end up upsetting so many people.
  • Don’t rely on the delete button. When a social media post goes wrong it may have been shared and screenshotted multiple times before you click delete.

Bad practice on social media

So, with these easy to follow rules, you’d think all bigger organisations would know exactly how to manage their social media accounts and get it right every time. Wrong! They clearly need some training from time to time as you’ll see from the following posts.

What follows are some examples of bad social media posts. Never post this content on social media.

Here we go ….

#1. Don’t Make Racial Connotations

The American home improvement giant Home Depot Inc. had to apologize for a racist tweet sent as part of a promotion with ESPN’s ‘College Game Day’ and announced those responsible were fired.

The tweet, from the company’s official @HomeDepot account, showed a picture of two African-American drummers with a person in a gorilla mask in between them and asked: ‘Which drummer is not like the others?’

Bad post

It was quickly pulled, but not before people took screen shots of it and it was widely condemned on social media. NBC and CNBC, among others, reported on the Tweet.

Always take a moment to look at the image you are posting and ask yourself the question, ‘could this offend anyone?’ If you think it could, don’t post it.

#2. Don’t Post Sexist Images or Make Sexist References

The Facebook post above was to celebrate International Women’s Day. Here we see a professional image of women sat, looking really happy, on a washing machine and a tumble dryer. It suggests that housework is the role of a woman. It’s no surprise that they got so many negative, and angry comments.

#3. Don’t Discriminate

bad post - Ghana defeat

This post was to showcase a result of the World Cup in 2014. USA 2 Ghana 1.

So many people commented declaring their upset that this was in bad taste. Some found it racist too. If only they’d thought twice about it and actually done some research. 

The final blow came when the score pointed out that giraffes don’t even live in Ghana! Never assume anything!

#4. Don’t Use Bad Language and Limit The Use Of Slang

There’s so much wrong with this post. I cannot understand how they thought that this was OK. They use language that some may find offensive, and they are using language connected to body shaming.

Why they felt the need to use such strong slang is beyond me. My advice is always to be yourself, speak normally and in a way that will be well received by your target customer.

#5. Don’t Promote Your Product Or Services On The Back Of A Disaster

This post was published to mark the anniversary of 9/11. When you first look at the post, you may not realise exactly what is going on here. But they used this as an opportunity to promote their pizza. Not clever and the post received a lot of criticism

#6. Don’t Post Negative Or Derogatory Social Media Content About Your Business

Bad language doesn’t always land well and in this case, they try to use a play on words with their business name. What they have achieved to do, is suggest that they hate where they work. So, why would anyone want to do business with them?

#7. Don’t Post Without Doing Your Research First

This post is about cloud formation. The written content is absolutely fine and non-offensive. However, when looking for an image to accompany the copy, they’ve been very lazy. They’ve come across an image that they have assumed is a cloud formation. It’s not. It’s an image of the Space Shuttle Challenger that broke apart seconds into its flight in 1986 killing all 7 crew members.

#8. Don’t Post Without Researching Your Hashtags

The #WhyIStayed hashtag was set up to help people find supportive posts associated with domestic violence. DiGiorno pizza  trivialised this sensitive and emotive subject, getting a huge amount of back lash as a result.

#9. Don’t Post Without Thinking

It’s not OK to put a downer on the magic of Christmas. It should be a time of positivity, fun and giving. They’ve not thought about how this will be received at such a wonderful time of the year. It’s simply mean and puts down the innocent imagination of children.

#10. Don’t Post With Too Much Automation

#10. Don’t Post With Too Much Automation

Chat Bots have their place and when used correctly they can offer the best customer service providing quick answers. But this company wasn’t paying any attention to what the bot was doing – it was turning people away and causing damage. It clearly recognised certain phrases and hashtags and assumed it knew the answer to the customers’ queries. Every time the bot directed the user to the website despite pleas not to.

In Summary

Avoid the following:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Discrimination
  • Politics and religion (if it’s not core to your business or brand values)
  • Bad language
  • Controversial issues
  • Negativity
  • Derogatory references
  • Inappropriate hashtags


And always do your research!

Here’s where to find more information

For post ideas that work, head to my blog, ‘Social Media Post ideas For Businesses’. And to learn more about how a chatbot can elevate your customer service, check out my blog, ‘How Chatbots Can Support Your Business’.

Gain customers using Facebook:

It’s not just great content that gets you business leads. There’s so much more, but don’t worry, my online course has been designed to help you to transform your Facebook business page. The course is made up of small bite-sized videos, shows you how to create a professional Facebook page to attract the right customers. You will have access to over 35 tutorials with step by step guidance – non techy of course – to get you lots of business.


There are modules under every section;

Section 1: Setting up a Facebook Business Page from scratch

Section 2: Navigating the settings

Section 3: Setting your page up so it ranks higher in the searches

Section 4. Posting content that works

Section 5. Engaging with your audience to increase your page likes

Section 6. ​Monitoring and measuring success​


Enrol for the ‘Creating & Managing Successful Facebook Business Pages’ online course today

Bye for now,


Becs Bate
Social Media Consultant, Social Media Executive


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