social media: tips and no-nos

I wouldn’t by any means call myself an expert at social media (really, who is?!), but somehow since I started this blog last year I got nominated and then selected as one of the top social media influencers for the state of Hawaii (and was awarded a trophy to boot). And today while you’re reading this post, I’m sitting on a panel at a social media convention, hopefully not turning beet red with embarrassment (hey – I’m used to being behind a screen!) and answering questions about social media.

I’ve been using social media in a business capacity for a year now. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned what to do, what not to do, that I should take more of my own advice, and that I still have a long way to go and a lot of questions about it.

Preparing for the panel discussion today has really forced me to examine and think about the good and the bad with regards to social media and the way I use it. I believe that social media requires a lot of persistence and a little bit of magic. So I’ve gathered up top tips and no-nos not only from myself, but from my peers as well to help you create some social media magic of your own!

Social Media: dos and don'ts

Interspersed throughout it all is an amazing and conceptual inspiration shoot from Ared Tagani Photography. Why the shoot? Well, just like when it comes to social media – it is different, definitely thought-provoking, and somehow totally works!


I wanted to talk about Pinterest first because of all my social media referrals to this site Pinterest brings in the most. I adore it and I’m on it all the time. But initially, I had a really hard time earning followers. Having a lot of people reading this blog didn’t translate the way I thought it would.

So how did I go from 9,000 followers to over 30,000 in the last three weeks?

–       started pinning lifestyle in addition to weddings

–       pinned more from my favorite blogs and repined less from my feed

–      and I sought people out and dug deep into their boards looking for real treasures.

Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

I’ve done quite a bit of goggling and reading up on ‘how to gain millions of Pinterest followers’ (hey – a girl can dream right?!) and one particularly interesting thing that I found out was that the signup process stacks it in favor of some. When you sign up for Pinterest you are forced to choose pictures that you like, these pictures are pulled from boards of Pinterest’s choosing and it helps them to auto populate who you start out following – meaning – there are at least 80-100 boards you follow automatically upon sign up. So don’t get all down and aboard the comparison train when you see someone with millions and millions of followers, it might be that they hit the signup jackpot. *fingers crossed that this happens to us!*


Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

Twitter is my least favorite social media outlet and the only one I schedule for. I use TweetDeck and schedule everything from retweets to my own links, sometimes even my responses. I think that my problem with twitter is that I’m a visual person so tweets just don’t flip my switch. I looked to my fellow wedding bloggers for tips on using twitter and this is what they had to say:

–       Cris of Kiss My Tulle: “Share the work of others – it makes you appear friendly and a part of your industry.”

–       Heather of Style Unveiled: “Search your business name and retweet or respond to tweets that may not have included your twitter handle properly.”

Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

One tip I would definitely add to this list is to not be creepy. What do I mean by that? Well, basically, if it’s creepy in real life, it’s going to be creepy on twitter. Don’t direct message someone asking them to like your Facebook page and don’t message a link with no context. And if you’re a small business looking for some free PR – harassing wedding bloggers on twitter is not the way to go. It will definitely earn you creeper status. Engage with us in meaningful ways instead! We’re quite a chatty bunch.

And a more personal tip to friends and family, we don’t walk into your place of work asking you to mass email everyone you work with to visit our blogs, right? So please don’t ask us to tweet a link begging all of our followers to vote for your baby photo or whatever it might be. It puts us in a really awkward position when we have to say no.

Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography


Managing Burnett’s Boards’ Facebook page has been an interesting journey for me. I’m gaining followers at a pretty steady rate of 5-10 a day, all without advertising or ‘boosting’ posts. I take Facebook pretty personally though and most people do. It’s where they go to catch up with family and friends. So after a few experiments with promoted posts I gave up. Why? A. it’s expensive and B. I hate it when I see paid posts in my own personal newsfeed so I choose not to do that to others.

When I first started this blog I used advertising on Facebook. I think if you are just starting out and your page has less than 500 followers, definitely spend some money and advertise. People follow crowds!

Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

Keeping your edge rank up on Facebook is important. There is a fantastic article over on ProBlogger about the wave system (it’s a must read) – check it out and if you’re unsure as to what edge rank is, it also does a great job of explaining it.

A few more Facebook tidbits:

–       Don’t shorten your links on Facebook the way you would on twitter. People are really wary of links on Facebook and are more likely to click-through if they can see exactly where it is going to go.

–       Krisstin of On the Go Bride says, “use an image to represent your blog post with a link. Images get more likes and interaction.”

–       Megan of Glamour and Grace adds, “engage followers with questions and also use call to action words. Tell people to like or comment on posts to get more interaction.”

–       And one tip I definitely need to get a handle on: (in my defense – this is HARD when you live in Hawaii but most of your readership is mainland US) Naoise of One Fab Day suggests that you should “time your posts carefully. Make sure you post at times that people are using the medium.”

–       Don’t flood! This is sort of a golden rule for any social media service. Remember, no one wants to see only posts from you in their feed.


Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

I didn’t start using StumbledUpon until last November and it steals your soul. What happens? Well, one of your posts will go viral on it, get loads of likes, send you through the roof with excitement that you have THAT many views (like how this post got 70k + views in two days). And then it stops. Just like that. For no reason!

You can do everything right and it’s all part of some mysterious algorithm that only SU knows. However, Stephanie of Fab You Bliss, who is an SU guru, added this advice: “be an active member. Dig in and really learn about the service. Follow people outside of your circles and add a wide range of likes. Just like Pinterest, when you add other interests besides wedding related stuff, the experience ends up being worth more. Remember, just like with most things, you get out of it what you put in.”


Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

Instagram (along with google +) is a social media avenue that I have a lot of questions about. I see a lot of other bloggers posting images from their blogs and reminding people to come and visit their site. I’ve tried this a few times but it felt weird. For now, I’m sticking to cat, beach, and jewelry photos. This probably isn’t the right thing to do for my brand, but at some point I believe it is important for the blogger’s personality to shine through, and this is where I’m choosing to do it.

Plus, as Megan of Glamour and Grace once told me, “if you’re just starting out, pick one or two social media platforms and do them well versus getting on all of them and posting sporadically.”

Instagram is definitely my sporadic one.


Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

Google +  is relatively new and I’m not sure I’m a fan yet. One thing I do do every morning though is go and +1 my own post! Make sure you do the same for yours. I hear it helps your google search engine ranking to accumulate those +1s not only on your posts, but also your homepage (pretty sneaky of google if you ask me…) so I’m definitely trying to get into this more. It’s tough though with all of the other platforms I’m on. I tend to also whip through my Google + feed once a day and +1 everyone I follow.


Social Media: dos and don'ts / Ared Tagani Photography

Keep it positive. Debbie Downers are no fun and playing the mean girl or ‘woe is me’ card all the time is a great way to lose fans. And finally, it’s important to remember that social media is not just about you and your blog posts. You need to interact with your followers, answer tweets, reply to comments on Facebook, share work other than your own that you admire, and just be social!

Do you have any tips or no-nos? We’d love to hear them!


I’d like to give a big thank you to Ared Tagani Photography for sharing this fantastic shoot with us!

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.


  1. Cynthia says

    Wow, this is a great post! Thanks for sharing all these tips. I just started delving into social media and it has been a little bit overwhelming for me. I don’t spend anywhere near as much time on it as I should or want to.

    Like you, Pinterest is my favorite and the best source of traffic for my blog. I hate twitter:) But I’m starting to use it.

    I have a question about what you said here:

    “When you sign up for Pinterest you are forced to choose pictures that you like, these pictures are pulled from boards of Pinterest’s choosing and it helps them to auto populate who you start out following – meaning – there are at least 80-100 boards you follow automatically upon sign up.”

    I don’t remember them forcing me to like pictures or auto-populating the people I followed… Is there a setting you have to activate?

    One thing I’ve been struggling with on pinterest is seeking people to follow. I wish they had the same system Twitter does for suggesting people you should follow. Do you have any suggestions for how to find people to follow on pinterest?

    • Thanks for the comment Cynthia! So glad you liked the article!

      In answer to your question – I believe the sign up process on Pinterest does still auto-populate (though it’s been a while since I signed up, so things may have changed) because Pinterest is one of those ‘learn by doing’ and if you signed up with no one to follow there would be nothing in your feed.

      Anyone out there who has recently signed up for Pinterest and can let us know?

      As far as finding people to follow – what I do is look at who my favorite pinners are following, click on their ‘pins’ tab to see all their pins and if I love what I see on my first couple seconds of scrolling I follow them, and then check out who THEY are following and so on and so forth. It’s a fab way to waste half a day 😉

      • Cynthia says

        Your tip for finding people to follow makes so much sense that I feel like an idiot for not doing more of it. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the to-do’s that common sense escapes me. Off I go to waste the rest of my afternoon:)

        • LOL don’t feel bad about that. With everything we have on our plates as one woman shows – it’s totally understandable!

  2. Oh my gosh, this is excellent, Sara! I truly think you are one of the best at your outreach (hello… trophies, 30K followers, and all that you’ve accomplished this year!) clearly it’s because 1. you are supremely talented at inspiring others ( visually & verbally!) 2. you use social media in a way that is a natural extension of your inspiration & talents! Thank you for this!

  3. Wow! Thank you for this is a Fantastic blog post. Now, I just have to apply some of your tips and no no’s! 🙂

  4. My biggest tip is to actively and genuinely show support for those you believe in and enjoy in your industry and beyond. Be proactive about it! Go out on a limb and express what you’re thinking/feeling. By not reciprocating, it’s the fastest way to lose followers and interest. No one wants to support a “gimme gimme” one-sider. 😉 Be a giver and bring that one-sider into a 3-D social media thriving environment.

    And you, my friend, are inspiring for how much you show support to the community! You’re real, genuine, quality, and still maintain your personality through and through. 🙂

  5. Where would we be without you Sara? I seriously learn so much every day here!! We have noticed recently how Facebook seems not to be ranking links with images as much as they used to, which we’re a little disappointed about. Also with 50% or our readers in the US and the other 50% in Europe, timing posts is a bit of an issue. I’m finding that G+ readership is building relatively quickly by spending maybe 20 minutes a day liking and commenting. I did not know about liking our own posts being beneficial though so will be doing that from now on! Lindsay and I tend to split up the various social media and concentrate on different ones so we can cover them. It’s a full time job, am I right?! And now I’m off to read that ProBlogger article as I’m ashamed to say I haven’t come across the wave system!

  6. Great stuff! Thanks!

  7. Great tips. Love it…and good luck today!

  8. What a great post Sara – I love it!!!!! I definitely have to try some of your “tricks” to get more pinterest follows as that is definitely my favorite SM platform, but I do love twitter. I have met so many in the industry and it’s led to many partnerships and projects as a result. My biggest pet peeve is when I see a tweet from a fellow industry member that asks a question – whether they are following the person that responds or not – a reply should always be given. Even if it’s a simple thank you. I always feel that if you can’t take the time to respond – you probably shouldn’t be asking the question. I will also have to try the google + trick of liking my own posts 🙂

  9. Great post Sara! Very helpful…. Twitter is my least favourite too. :S

  10. Fantastic post Sara, full of such helpful tips and tricks. I echo what others have said about how fab you are on social media – so wonderfully supportive of others, it’s no wonder you’re gaining such a following 🙂 xx

  11. Sara Russell says

    Great post on such a broad subject. It’s never straightforward and is usually a big learning curve. Like you say, be yourself and people will come to you 🙂

  12. Great article Sara. I’d add a couple things: check where your traffic is coming from and put your time there (I just learned this from Marie from Code it Pretty). I’m getting very little traffic from twitter and facebook (the brides aren’t there) but google + is quickly growning so I’m refocusing a bit of time there. and I think twitter and instagram are great places to connect with other bloggers and industry people – just by liking and sharing things you actually like and connecting that way.

    Another piece of advice I got recently…StumbleUpon is dying. It will be irrelevant within the next year probably due to lots of redesigns, getting sold, etc. and although you may get lucky with a post that goes viral and gets you LOTS of traffic (I had a few of those myself) they are fleeting. In my opinion it isn’t a place to spend a lot of time anymore, but that’s just me…

    Keep up the great work. You’re a great example of a blogger who is growing by leaps and bounds by connecting with others authentically and putting out good content consistently.

    • I so seriously hope that you are right about Stumbled Upon! I get no joy from it – it’s just a ‘duty’ at this point. I’d be SO ok with it if it died!

  13. Fabulous article, as usual! These tips are very insightful. My husband keeps me updated on algorithm changes, which seem to be endless, but I’m completely clueless about how any of them work. And I don’t think I’ll ever understand Google+ or StumbleUpon.

    Anyway, you’re definitely a natural when it comes to using social media, so thank you for sharing some of your secrets! And, of course, we all appreciate how incredibly supportive you are of others in the industry.

    I love the conceptual shoot, by the way. It’s so fitting!

  14. Thank you Sara, really great advice here!! The only social media I used before I started blogging was Facebook and that was only once in a while. Making the transition to be actively engaged and on so many platforms has been challenging. I know I have to dig in and try harder and I find articles like this really motivating because they contain tips I can put into practice one step at a time.

    By the way, I discovered your site a few months ago and I’ve been so impressed- it’s clear from the content, design and navigation that you pay a lot of attention to detail. Following you and a few other bloggers gives me inspiration and I just want to wish you continued success on your journey!!

    • I totally understand – it’s really hard at first but I promise you’ll develop a ‘routine’ and get it down to a few hours a day, max. Then you can focus on producing fab content! Like Megan (Glamour and Grace) said in the article though – it’s better to be good at a few than sporadic at all. Thanks for your kind words! xx

  15. congratulations on the (continuing!) recognition for your hard work, sara! good platform-specific and general tips and experiences shared! the macro point that stuck out for me: it’s *social* media, so in-real-life rules apply, maybe even more so since there are no additional visual or aural cues that you get in-person. think of it like any other personal conversation (even as a megaphone platform):

    1. show actual interest in others. even though it may not always be one-to-one, social is *always* a two-way street. no one likes being with someone who doesn’t show some kind of interest in them.

    2. have something to say (intriguing or of meaningful to others). not everything needs to be a precious gem; just keep #1 in mind.
    2b. play to your strengths and make a point to try out new things/”techniques” as you change/grow.

    3. get to know people / connect with influencers (everyone has to “cast a net” and “climb a ladder” of some sort to build their network, but also be prepared for serendipity.) keep in mind #1 and #2.

    fwiw, my 2 cents, inflation adjusted. looking forward to the new website design. take care.

    p.s. on a technical note, ranking and related algorithms, tools, and sites tend to change, so things that worked in the past may not help you in the future. find a good tech– person, community, and/or blog to keep current, but the above stuff is the real meat and potatoes.

  16. Beautifully written! Awesome tips about Google+. (That’s one of the platforms where I really admire your success, because it seems like hardly anyone knows how to use it very well.)

  17. Well done, my friend! I echo the comments about your generosity to the world. Congrats!

  18. Good post…..congrats on the trophy!

  19. LOVE THIS PIECE!! You literally answered like three questions I was pondering today. I also love when Bloggers mention other Bloggers so friendly. Awesome Blog! 🙂

  20. Such an amazing post and great tips! I love all the tips from the comments too. Will definitely be incorporating some of these into my daily routine!

  21. Sara, this is definitively going in my May link roundup… really great post!

    Twitter is also my least favorite SM outlet (SM as in Social Media, not the other thing, HA). But I am working on it. Social Media is so hard and time-consuming (especially if you run two blogs, like I do), but at the same time it’s fascinating and definitively worth the effort.
    Things I am taking away from this post: Glad I never tried StumbleUpon, and I need to get on Google +!


  22. Thank you for sharing your tips! I’m a fan of using Twitter and Pinterest. I love reading how everyone uses it differently and how each tool works for them (or doesn’t).

  23. Congrats on all your success BB! And coming from the social media gal over here on Bridechilla, this article is being added to my bookmarks for a re-read. It’s great to hear tips like this from a blogger’s perspective.

  24. Social media is so overwhelming and so confusing at times. Google Plus – I like the communities on it on different topics and i like that more people see my posts than on FB and i have more followers on FB than I do on Google Plus so it’s a toss up.

    Create some QR codes for Instagram so people can scan the code and it takes you directly to the link you provide them. Also, just like twitter – use hashtags and look up the popular ones for the ones you are posting. use hashtags on Google Plus too. Make sure you watermark your pics on Instagram. If you have an iphone, there’s a wonderful app called iwatermark that lets you watermark a logo, text or add a QR code to the image before you post it.

    With Twitter, follow as many people as you can – they almost always follow right back!!

    I’m a new follower.
    I’m also hosting a Linky Party for the month of May. Link up your favorite events or someone else’ doesn’t matter. We would just love to see the amazing way we all put a party together and what better way than to link it below for all of us to enjoy!!
    At the end of the month, we will highlight our favorite events.

    Keep in Touch(ed),

  25. Melanie B says

    Aloha BB
    You just WOWED my socks off, THANK YOU! The photo’s by Ared Tagani Photography are creatively beautiful and a perfect match for the context of your post. The combination of the two had me captivated and enthralled. THANK YOU, again!

    I’m an Internet Marketing Student at IADT and currently in a Mobile Advertising class and SEO class. This week both classes just happen to focus around social media. What you’ve shared has been invaluable.

    You may not consider yourself a social media expert but, I can attest from everything I’m learning, and believe me it’s a lot. You are more than right on track!

    I believe, your headed straight to the top, which is where I found your blog on Google’s SERP. That’s a very impressive accomplishment that says you’re a SMO natural.

    I love Pinterest but need to spend more time pinning, thanks for the tips.
    Instagram is one of my favs because of it’s simplicity and I’m visual.

    I really appreciate KG Style Designs (@kgstyleinc) tips and advice on Google+ and Twitter.

    Thank you for sharing the success of your first year using social media in a business context, I gained valuable insight from it as well as the feedback and responses from other users. Kudo’s


    • Thanks so much Melanie! I’m so glad you liked the article! I am now off to google what ‘google SERP’ is 😉 (seriously – I have no idea what that is…)

  26. If your goal is to engage your customers through social networks, you would be wise to invest in Facebook (and keep your eye on Pinterest, and maybe Tumblr, depending on your demographic)Even though Facebook’s engagement numbers are impressive, if your customers are spending their time on LinkedIn or Twitter, that’s where you should be.Thanks for sharing this post:)

  27. Love this post! So helpful. I attempt to follow most practices but you had a couple in there that are new to me. I didn’t realize SU could do so much – will have to step it up there. And I def need to educate myself a little more about Facebook!

  28. Fantastic Advice Sara! Trying to use Social Media more effectively for my business is definitely something I’ve been working on. I I could hire a full time employee to take care of it and still just be scratching the surface. lol. I like the advice of just focusing on a few outlets and doing those well as opposed to trying to do all of them not so great. Thank for the post!

  29. I loved how honest you were in this post from social media outlets you really find to be helpful and then the ones that you may not be a huge fan of. Very helpful information! I own an wedding accessories and personalized gifts ecommerce store so I always struggle with the balance of not being too product pushing and adding in your own personality. Some social media is easier to use than others when it comes to an actual store trying to promote itself. Thanks for all the tips though!

  30. I adored this post! My one comment was that it would have been great to have a relevant pinnable photo at the top. Still appreciate all of the information!!

    xo Becky


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