Social Media Cringe: 6 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

July 3, 2024 Morgan Menzel

Social media has rapidly evolved into a powerful tool for marketers, with over 5.17 billion users now engaging online (Sprout Social 2024). This vast user base presents an enormous benefit for business reach that cannot be understated. However, while many businesses leverage the benefits of social media to distribute their messaging, the fine line between effective content and cringe-worthy posts is too often crossed. In this blog, we will explore some of the most common social media pitfalls and provide tips on how your business can avoid them.

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6 Social Media Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

1. Trying to Engage on EVERY Platform

Firstly, the BIGGEST mistake many businesses make is believing they must utilise every social media platform. Although all platforms share the concept of creating and communicating, each is designed for different audiences, content strategies (i.e., entertain, inform, or educate), and business purposes.

For example, TikTok is primarily used by younger audiences (18-24-year-olds) for fun, engaging short-form videos. In contrast, LinkedIn caters to professionals aged 25 or older who want to connect with peers and engage in career-focused conversations (Zote 2024). Misunderstanding these distinctions leads to businesses creating irrelevant content that misaligns with their brand identity. Just look at TikTok!

2024 has witnessed a rise of businesses participating in cringe-worthy dances and trends to appear fun and gain traction with younger audiences. While TikTok dances are popular (and undoubtedly entertaining at times), watching a group of office workers aged 40+ awkwardly attempt to fit into this Gen Z environment appears forced and uncomfortable rather than affective and engaging. Before creating a social media account, consider:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are their social media habits? (i.e., platforms used, active times, usage).
  • What content aligns with your brand identity, values, and goals?

Selecting the most appropriate platform ensures your content is relevant and well-received by the right audience. 

2. Spamming Users

Nobody likes to be bombarded with messages, especially promotional content. Yet, businesses continually make this mistake. While maintaining an active presence on social media is important, it’s crucial to remember that users frequently receive content from friends and other businesses, which can clutter their feeds, and become overwhelming. Further, spam creates a mindset that businesses are annoying/inconsiderate, desperate for a sale, or forcing customers to engage with them.

A prime example is HiSmile, a dental-care brand unique for their range of fun, tasty toothpaste. Across Instagram and TikTok particularly, HiSmile bombards users with content and targeted ads, promoting their wacky-new flavours (Horton 2024). While it’s undoubtedly effective for gaining attention, their content has also become the face of public scrutiny, with many users choosing to block the brand entirely (TikTok 2024). According to Raymond (2024), 41.5% of users will unfollow brand pages that over-post, leading to disengagement and a negative brand perception.

As such, it’s critical not to post frequent, heavily promotional posts. Instead, focus on posting valuable, engaging content that’s thoughtful, well-crafted, and capable of fostering more meaningful connections with your followers. This will help enhance your online presence. 

3. Posting Irrelevant or Controversial Content

Many businesses also engage in cringeworthy behaviour by posting content that’s irrelevant to their core offerings. This may involve:

  • Posting memes.
  • Initiating controversial conversation topics.
  • Posting about events/international days they have no connection to.

Such attempts at appearing trendy or relatable can appear forced and insincere, alienating their audience rather than engaging them. Consumers today are savvy and value authenticity; they can easily spot when a brand is jumping on a bandwagon for visibility or to stir controversy. One of (if not the WORST) examples is Burger King.


In 2021, Burger King shared a tweet for International Women’s Day, simply reading “women belong in the kitchen.” (an obvious nod to misogynistic ideologies) (Kelleher 2021). The purpose was to use this controversy to promote their new initiative, providing more opportunities for women in the food and hospitality industry.

Instead, however, this post was deemed irrelevant to their business, offensive, and took the spotlight away from a day recognising the achievements and success of women worldwide. Consequently, instead of highlighting their good intentions, this diminished their reputation and made them appear out of touch with reality.

This serves as a lesson for all businesses! If there’s no connection to your business, avoid posting about that event/day. Further, DON’T ever create a post, purely to stir controversy. While it might serve a purpose in gaining attention, there are too many negative consequences!

4. Over-Hashtagging

Hashtags can significantly boost your reach on social media platforms by making your content discoverable to a broader audience. However, overusing hashtags can have the opposite effect. Users strongly believe that posts incorporating 3-5 hashtags per post are ideal, while anything greater appears cluttered and desperate (McLachlan 2021).

Also, stray from using irrelevant hashtags or those you have no knowledge of. For too often, businesses have landed in hot water for misusing hashtags, like DiGiorno’s “#Istayedforpizza” tweet in 2024 which unknown to them, was being used by female survivors of domestic violence (Broderick 2014; Forbes 2017; ).

To avoid this, conduct hashtag research to determine what’s popular and relatable for your business. Choose a few to enhance your visibility without overwhelming your audience.

5. Using a Overly-Formal Tone

Businesses, particularly those unfamiliar with social media, often utilise a formal tone when social media is inherently casual. While platforms like LinkedIn prefer professionalism, this can appear stiff and unapproachable on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. While maintaining professionalism is critical, finding a consistent conversational tone that resonates with your audience and brand identity is equally important.

Ensure this is consistent across all messages and platforms your business manages. This will help build a relatable, approachable, and authentic brand presence.

6. Errors and Inconsistencies

Lastly, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies are frequent on social media – tarnishing businesses’ credibility. Ensure you proofread your posts and ensure consistency in your messaging, tone, and branding elements. This attention to detail will reflect your commitment to quality and professionalism.

Concluding Thoughts

To conclude, avoiding social media cringe is about understanding your audience and crafting content that resonates. By taking the time to research and plan, and by steering clear of these common pitfalls, you can build a robust and engaging social media presences that fosters meaningful connections with your brand. Remember, social media is an ever-evolving landscape, so stay adaptable and always strive for authenticity.

How Can Adlab Help?

Navigating the complexities of social media can be challenging – especially for older businesses, but Adlab is here to help. Our team of experts specialise in social media strategies, and crafting promotional content that aligns with your brand’s goals and audience preferences. With Adlab, you can avoid social media cringe and build a compelling online presence that drives growth and customer engagement. Let us turn your social media into a powerful tool for success.

Get in contact with us today!