As we step, bleary-eyed, into the cold light of January, it’s time to engage in the age-old ritual of setting unrealistic targets of self-growth and self-gain. “I will own my home before February!”, “I will run three marathons this year!” ... “I will FIX Facebook’s fake news and outside interference problems!”.

I say, no more! Let’s be realistic and focus on something more easily improved – mainly, our social media performance. Because, in keeping with the general vibe of 2017, some social media blunders by brands (and world leaders alike!) were truly stinky.

Follow these seven social resolutions, and 2018 will be a whole different story.

1. Remember it’s 2018, not 1918.
It seems no one told Virgin Trains that patronising pet names were phased out with the steam train. See the below example of them using a term of endearment in a way that would make even Yer Da cringe.

Let’s work to avoid patronising customer service in the new year and as a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend avoiding responding to a complaint about sexism with more sexism.

Remember, however comfortable you feel engaging with fans, you’re still a brand talking to a person you’ve probably never met. So, like my nan always says: tweet as you’d like to be tweeted to.

2. Everything with moderation
If you’re reading this, then you’re obviously all about living your best life in 2018, and we love you for that. However, that’s not everyone’s vibe – unfortunately, even in 2018, trolls still gonna troll.

The National Lottery found this out the hard way when they asked fans to tweet their names, for the chance to be automatically added to a personalised response from a Team GB athlete. Cue a slew of inappropriate and offensive messages that were uploaded to pre-recorded videos with the likes of Greg Rutherford and Nicola Adams.

Our advice is, this year, don’t make it easy for the trolls. If you’re planning on inviting responses from your community, always employ a heavy dose of moderation. Take your team through a ‘what’s the worst that could happen??!’ brainstorm before launch because, left in the hands of the internet, it will.

3. Proof, check THEN pub(lish)
Sure, we’ve all been there – it’s five to six, you’ve been staring at the screen all day, and the pub is a-calling. You’ll check that tweet tomorrow morning before it goes out, right?

WRONG.

That’s just the kind of thinking that (probably) led McDonald’s to post a placeholder on Black Friday last year.

There’s nothing like posting and deleting because of a copy error to make you look and feel a little bit amateurish.

Ronald and his team actually pulled it back with a follow up tweet about forgetting to pour themselves a cup of their own brand coffee.

But not everyone has the caffeinated beverage get-out card. Even deletion is futile as there’s always someone lying in wait to screenshot and go viral at your expense. So check, check and check again. And then check it again.

4. Thou shalt not worship false savoury pastry snacks
Coming out of your shell and bringing your funny side with you is a great resolution for us Regular Joes, but for brands, showing off your sense of humour is a precarious business. Greggs found that out when they swapped baby Jesus with a sausage roll in a nativity scene, as part of a campaign to promote their 2017 advent calendar.

With social, it’s easy to misfire and come off at best, unfunny, and worst, obnoxious or offensive. Always ask yourself: “Am I attacking something that people hold very dearly? Will I be offending large swathes of the population?”.

If yes, it’s probably best to aim your banter bazooka elsewhere.

The bakers were accused of showing a lack of respect for Christianity, while simultaneously tainting the glory that was a savoury snack calendar.

5. Keep your #s in check
This one comes out every year – the social media resolution equivalent of promising to eat less and exercising more. When will we learn to check our innocent campaign hashtags don’t in fact sound like something far ruder?

2017’s version of the #susanalbumparty came from Dorothy Perkins. In a bid to get fans to celebrate new purchases with a picture on Instagram, they told us to post with the unfortunate “#LoveDP.” We’re all for trying new things, but steady on Dotty P.

Celebrities were caught in the crossfire, Dorothy Perkins came off as a wee bit naive – all of which could have been prevented with a quick google beforehand, just not on the office WiFi.

6. Say what you meme
There’s something a bit disconcerting about brands using memes. Like seeing your mum on Snapchat – How did she get here? And why is she here? 🤔?

While internet culture might sometimes look superficial and vacuous, there are layers of complexity that a) help make it very funny, but b) can trip you up very easily. So do your research, or better yet, stick to what you know.

Fast-food chain Wendy’s clearly didn’t know the controversy surrounding Pepe the Frog, and its appropriation by far-right groups, when they tweeted out a version in January 2017.

The hamburger chain just wanted to get involved in the internet lols but ended up being criticised for posting and then criticised again for deleting, by alt-right tweeters.

7. Check your sources (#fakenews)
Never has someone so utterly idiotic been capable of teaching us so much …

While covfefe-gate was strange but mildly amusing, Trump’s retweeting of entirely falsified anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group was inflammatory, and reminds us to keep a watchful eye on who we engage with and what we share.

Your rogue share might not create an international situation and bring about condemnation from figures including the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it will undermine your reputation in the same way.

So in summary: don’t be sexist, NEVER trust the internet, proof check before pub, (pas)try not to blaspheme, avoid anal (in the workplace), research ur memez, don’t be Donald Trump.

Want advice on your social? Talktous@wearesocial.net