You will notice that when a faux pas occurs in social media, news travels like wild fire and takes on a life of its own. It can cost the company involved not only a lot of time and money but, most importantly, it’s reputation. In most instances, it’s better not to participate if you’re not going to do it properly and take it seriously.
Below are what I identify as nine common social media fails that do my head in.
1. Letting the junior loose on your social media
Would you let someone junior represent your brand on television? No? Well what would possess you to let them represent your brand online? What you or your brand post on social media is akin to posting something on your building on a huge billboard for all of the world to see. A billboard that can’t be taken down – EVER.
Your social media marketer, whether within your organisation or an external consultant, needs to understand marketing, sales, communication, your brand and the mediums they are using. They have to be able to react quickly and handle a crisis situation if it arises. More often than not, this requires maturity and experience.
A recent example of a big fail was the intern of a social media company representing an Australian lingerie brand tweeting “If a guy invites you over to watch a movie, you should know what they’re expecting.”
The world of social media went into meltdown, with many tweeting a boycott of the brand. The story was picked up by mainstream media to boot. The brand reacted well by donating money to an appropriate charity but how much irreparable damage has already been done?
Because social media is a relatively new industry many think that it’s just something the Gen X’ers understand – well yes they might know how to tweet, pin etc but that’s only a fraction of the skill set required to represent a brand in the jungle of social media.
2. Not checking your social media sites on a regular basis
Not responding to a negative comment can be plain stupid and even detrimental. It is essential to make sure the person in charge of your online marketing have “alerts” in place (when someone posts anywhere about your brand) so they can responds to anything said about the brand in a timely manner.
Social media is not a 9-5 gig.
A major fashion brand’s Facebook page was hacked recently. For 12 hours or so, the hacker sent a swathe of offensive, un-authorised posts before the company knew what was happening. A lot of havoc was wreaked in that period and followers lost. All of this could have been avoided if the person looking after the social media was aware of when somebody was commenting on their Facebook page. It’s easy to set this up so really there’s no excuse.
3. Only promoting yourself and not adding value
The social media newbies stick out like sore thumbs. They tell you how good their brands are and wonder why they lose whatever followers they may have attracted. All of their updates are sales-focused. Peeps, this is not the 80s!
I like to follow the “80/20 Rule” and sometimes it’s more like 90/10! 10-20% of the time, it’s acceptable to promote your brand in a meaningful way. The rest of the time, add value to your followers. Keep it loosely relevant most of the time but give them what they want.
4. Saying the same thing at the same time on different platforms
I’ll admit it – sometimes I just want to scream! It’s usually when I see someone who has scheduled updates onto several mediums at the same time with exactly the same message. DO NOT DO THIS! I know it saves time but it’s also boring and treats people like idiots. It’s not a good look. Take that extra time to customise your posts for each medium or use less mediums and do them better.
There are different languages and ways of communicating on different platforms. Take for example Twitter. Hashtags are useful here, as are regular tweets. You can tweet 8 times in a day and not lose people whereas on Facebook this would be seen as spamming, and on LinkedIn it would be totally inappropriate and counter-productive. Hashtags on Facebook should not be overused and are obviously not used for search.
5. Not following the Facebook promotion rules
Facebook has strict rules regarding promotions and competitions. These are rules that are flouted at the risk of having your page permanently shut down. Even some social media experts seem strangely unaware of the rules. This post is one of the most comprehensive on what you can and cannot do – Facebook Promotions: Know The Rules by Social Media Today.
6. Bad grammar and spelling
Whilst it’s hip to know the abbreviations and drop youthful expressions like “maybes, totes, just sayin” etc, there is no excuse for bad grammar and spelling. I beg you to know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, “there”, “they’re” and “their” etc. The Gen X’ers may forgive the dropping of these bombs but the Gen Y’ers and Baby Boomers very often will not.
Also, as a general rule, don’t swear. It may only offend one person but that’s one person too many. For those companies I represent, posts by others with offensive language are deleted. You can actually block profanities on your pages if you find it necessary.
7. Forgetting your fans and followers
The lifeblood of social media is obviously the people. Talk to them, ask them questions and most of all listen to them. Whatever you do, don’t talk “at” them. I am always honored that anyone wants to follow me, or the pages I curate, and I do my best to honor them with good content. See them as part of your community, not people you are selling to.
8. Ignoring and deleting negative feedback
Receiving negative feedback can actually be a good thing, especially if it’s something more than one person may be thinking. It gives you the opportunity to address the negativity and turn it into a positive. Acknowledge the person and thank them for bringing it up – never sweep it under the proverbial carpet by deleting it. The exception to the rule is if they’re being unreasonable, and then it’s sometimes acceptable to delete and block the person in question.
9. Being Inconsistent
A consistent strategy is essential, especially if more than one person is looking after your posts. Have a plan and a clear set of rules and values. Post at regular intervals, whether it’s once a day or three times a day. Don’t post three posts one after the other and then leave it for a week. You will miss most of your audience if you do that.
Well these are the main basic social media fails that I think are easily remedied. What are your pet social media mistakes? Any questions or comments welcome.
Author: Kirsten Trethowan