The world of social media is constantly evolving and the marketing tactics that worked last year, or even last month, might not be as effective today. And yet despite the rapidly changing environment, many brands and marketers are still using time-consuming, counterproductive marketing tactics that are doing more harm than good.

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work for your social media campaigns. If you’re ready to throw out the useless social media tactics so you can focus on the ones that actually work, we’ve gathered the five tactics to stop doing today.

1. Shrugging off content automation

For reasons unknown, social media automation is often brushed aside for other tasks. But just as your brand plans out your blog posts and other content for the month to save time, you can also save hours each and every month by automating your social media content.

Automating your social media saves hours that could be better spent elsewhere — such as engaging with your followers or discovering new opportunities for growth. It can also help your brand stay organized and maintain a consistent brand identity across multiple social media platforms. And while you don’t have to automate and schedule every single post, automation can help your brand maintain a presence even when you’re not online.

In a survey by Redeye and TFM&A Insights, marketers who have adopted automation stated that the main benefits included:

  • Removal of repetitive tasks, allowing more time to focus on new/other projects (36%)
  • Better targeting of customers and prospects (30%)
  • Improvement of the customer experience (10%)
  • Better email marketing (9%)
  • Reduction of human error in campaigns (8%)
  • Lead management (4%) and multichannel marketing (3%)

Additionally, as you begin to automate your social media posts, you’ll discover the optimal times to schedule content for better engagement.

2. Sending automated “Thanks for following!” messages

We highly recommend automating your key social media marketing tasks, but that isn’t to say that everything should be automated. One automated marketing tactic that we definitely need to put to an end to is automated Twitter messages. You know, those messages that people or companies send one nanosecond after you follow them with an impersonal “Thanks for following!” and fifteen links to their website, blog, or other self-promotional sites.

These automated messages can come off as lazy, spammy, and ingenuine. And while there may be some people out there that have successfully generated referral traffic from these messages, it’s much more likely that the number of people who are genuinely annoyed after seeing these messages far outweighs the number of people clicking on them.

The rules of social media change all of the time, but one thing that stays consistent is that earning the trust of your followers and building meaningful relationships can do far more good for your brand than a quick, canned message.

3. Having no hashtag game

Hashtags can be a great way to draw attention to your posts by immediately expanding your their reach. However, most of the time the words people are hashtagging are far too vague to achieve this goal.

It’s important to hashtag the words your target customers are actually searching. It’s also important to monitor the volume of hashtags you’re using because the effectiveness of a hashtag differs across each social network. According to Buffer’s Scientific Guide to Hashtags, tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than tweets without. Of course, there’s a catch: The recommendation is to limit the number of hashtags to one to two per tweet. When you use more than two hashtags, your post’s engagement can drop an average of 17%.

Instagram is another wildly popular place for hashtags and one of the only platforms where overloading on them can be beneficial. In fact, interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.

On the other hand, if you’re still hashtagging away on Facebook, it’s time to put the practice to an end. Research from EdgeRank Checker shows that Facebook hashtags have zero positive effect on a post’s reach, and posts without hashtags perform better than those with hashtags.

4. Paying no attention to image specifications

According to Kissmetrics, content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without relevant images. Visual content rules on nearly every social network; however, many brands are still passively posting images without optimizing them for each social channel.

Using images that match the correct specifications for each social network is no longer as time-consuming or costly as it used to be. Therefore, there’s no excuse not to make your visuals stand out and share images that look great on every platform. There are dozens of tools that can help you easily optimize your images, such as GAIN’s built-in image editor. You can resize and crop any image and view pixel-perfect previews of your visual posts before they go live so you can be sure they will look great.

5. Not using an approval process

Despite the risk of facing a tremendous backlash from followers, many brands continue to make careless errors on social media (here are some of the social media biggest fails of 2016), which can be easily avoided with a content approval process in place.

With GAIN, you can create all of your social media posts and gather feedback/edits on each post from your internal team members or clients. Also, create as many approval rounds as necessary for social media content before it goes live.

To effectively implement an approval process, first define each team member’s role and who will have final say on each post. This removes any anxiety and confusion about who still needs to approve content before it goes live. Teams can automate this process with GAIN by creating customized approval workflows that automatically move content to the next approval round once the current round is approved.

The best part about using a content approval tool like GAIN is the elimination of the dozens of back-and-forth emails to get approval on content. Emailing edits and feedback all around creates confusion and important instructions can easily be lost or misplaced, leading to content going up without the required changes. If you’re ready to put a proper social media tool in place that promotes an approval process and content automation, give GAIN a try today and manage and approve all of your social media content with ease.