Every day, a senior executive for a company gets on social media and does more harm than good—usually before they even finish their coffee. 

Most of my clients assume that social media blunders involve mishaps in marketing—a video campaign that bombs, backlash over poor timing of a post, an opinion that strays too far from the center.  

The reality? Some of the most common—and most egregious—social media mistakes are made by top executives all the time, without realizing the sometimes silent damage they are doing to their personal and professional brand.  

Here are three of the top mistakes we see the most: 

  1. Misunderstanding the fundamentals of account security. While most people understand password security, they often confuse personal accounts with business profiles. We often see this when personal content blurs into company spaces unintentionally. Embarrassing? Sometimes. Avoidable? Absolutely.

While there are plenty of rewards for connecting employees to your company profile, it pays to be intentional and to have policies and procedures in place that protect your most valuable asset—your brand reputation. How you onboard—and offboard—your social ambassadors is essential, as is any training and guidance you can provide to behave in the company’s (and, ultimately, their own) best interests.

Keeping accounts secure and safe is a top priority—most often after a PR nightmare has already occurred. We recommend using and understanding 2-factor authentication and creating processes to keep accounts safe in various environments and locations.

Social media is a powerful tool in the right hands—and one of the most destructive in the wrong ones. Protect your accounts.

  1. Failing to use video well. As a senior executive for your company, what you say carries weight. Customers like to know great people are leading their favorite companies. Employees like engaging with those at the top of their organization who share their goals and passions. Peers like sharing and bolstering similar experiences.

And there’s no better, proven way to do this than with video—it’s the most effective way to tell the brand story from the perspective only you can give, the big picture behind the scenes. Executives who do this well treat the audience as if they are sharing in the adventure—they discuss the importance of their upcoming goals, share the meaning behind the mission statement, and put a voice to the values.

That said, not all video content is good content. Self-promoting, salesy content doesn’t have a place in the executive newsfeed. In general, your job isn’t to promote the what—it’s to inform and excite the why!

To do that well, keep your energy authentic, your lighting strong, and your message short. Align your story with your overall brand’s cohesive digital experience. Script if you must, but don’t fall into the trap of constantly re-recording something until it’s perfect—that’s the fastest way never to post a video. Get out of your comfort zone and in front of a world that deserves to know what you are up to—and why it’s so important.

  1. Putting inexperienced hands at the helm of your critical social media accounts. A lot of organizations turn to interns to manage their executive’s social media accounts—and then wonder why their CFO sounds like he just graduated from college.

And it goes beyond post prompts and content. There truly is an art to understanding analytics and optimizing effectiveness—having and deploying the right tools, data, and creative mindset are critical. You don’t have to have all the answers, but your team as a whole should understand what they are doing and where they are headed. Do they?

The fact is, if you want to create a powerful social media presence that expands beyond your profile, there are certain social media tasks you have no business delegating. The mechanics of scheduling and editing are fine—but your message should belong to you.  

A company’s leadership usually has one of two reactions when I cover this information on a call: they either don’t know what to stop or how to start. I urge them to remember that social media is a world of constant movement and improvement—it only serves our competitors if we choose to sit still. Protect your brand. Celebrate your why. Use your (own) words. And distance yourself from others whose biggest social media mistake was failing to learn from everyone else.