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16 Oct 2012

Top Social Media Misfires Companies Make

Social Media Misfires

Would it surprise you to learn that social media has put your customers in the driver’s seat? Perhaps the better-suited question to ask, is are you actually leveraging this fact?

With the unlimited availability to access information about brands, customers are directly contributing to how your company is perceived through their tweets, posts, likes and shares. Companies must be prepped and prepared to meet their customers’ expectations – or risk being ignored.

Successful marketers are using this opportunity to tap into their online communities, identify shifts in customer preferences, analyze trending patterns and monitor customer activity. For companies less seasoned in the social space, there are a number of mistakes that can be made – usually in the urgency to get something posted quickly or in simply creating “things” to post.

In this article you will learn common pitfalls to avoid and considerations to take into account when engaging in social media marketing.

Posting without a Plan

The key is to continually control how your brand is being perceived.One of the biggest social media mistakes marketers make, is posting without having a clear strategy. The key is to continually control how your brand is being perceived. Free-to-create profiles make it easy for companies to quickly ramp up visibility on social networks. However, pin-pointing what to share with your audience, when to share it and how to respond is key. Without a social media plan, you run the risk of turning your audience away with content that doesn’t pique their interests.

David Fleet, VP Digital at Edelman, for his presentation at BlogWorld New York, makes the point: “The days of social media as an experiment are over – it’s time for a more mature approach to social media within companies in order for social media to be viewed as a sustainable communications and business function.”

Using the Same Voice Across All Social Networks

While it is certainly easier to copy the same social messages across all platforms, the duplicate content offers little value to your audience and hurts your search engine rankings.

Your focus should be on encouraging your audience to follow, like and join you on each social channel to receive all of the information you are sharing. The best way to do this is to adjust your brand messaging and voice to work across multiple mediums; keeping in mind that your audience on Twitter is not the same as your audience on Facebook and each requires a different approach.

Talking at Customers, Not to Them

While speaking to your audience across social channels, make sure to always be focused on creating two-way dialogue. Audience engagement is the key to converting your customers to ambassadors, who in turn, will evangelize your brand and spread messaging. This can be accomplished by making it your social media policy to directly communicate with your customers online.

If, on the other hand, you are only talking “at” your audience, your messages could be perceived as self-serving propaganda. One way to avoid doing this, is by not automating all your posts and instead, answering questions, responding to retweets, and participating in the current conversation.

Not Being an Active Member

Being active on social media is more effective for your businessIn order to be a socially-responsible company, you must continually feed content into all your social media channels. Even if you have limited resources, there are plenty of tools \available to help publish content, monitor conversations and respond to comments across major social networks. InformationWeek has a helpful list of Social Media Management Resources for your reference.

Kiss Public Relations, revealed in a recent infographic, that brands who ignore social media or become inactive on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook risk losing existing and potential customers. And more than half (51 percent) of respondents agreed that if a brand is not present or not active with its social media it would reflect negatively on the company.

However, as long as you are continually serving up a variety of interesting and valuable content, your audience will keep coming back. And as stated before, while you are pushing out content, don’t overlook the opportunity to create an interaction.

Defaulting to Interns

Determining who owns social media in your company is highly important, although often turned over to younger staff members or even interns who have little guidance from management or decision makers. Inc. Magazine posted an article that discusses the trend to default to interns for social media, simply because they live and breathe it in their own lives and therefore “get” it. The article goes on to say, “You are handing the keys to your social-media kingdom to a newcomer, but there’s plenty that he or she needs to understand beyond the social tools themselves. What are the nuances of your products or services? What makes you stand out in the marketplace? What are the typical expectations of your customers? How do you troubleshoot issues or cajole customers into working a bit more with you? What does your company stand for?”

To be a socially-responsible company, there are a few things you should be doing:

  1. Determining which team members will have access to your social accounts
  2. Creating a social media rule book outlining policies on what to tweet, when to tweet and how to respond
  3. Drafting social media crisis/reputation management protocol as suggested by experts at Reputation.com

Ignoring Social Networking

Build relationships with your customers through social mediaMost online businesses are using social networking in some form, to broaden their audience base and increase website visitors. Yet, there are still others who are turning a deaf ear to social networking signals and losing valuable opportunities to connect with audiences and become a real authority in their industry as seen on this Youtube channel.

Sundeep Kapur, Digital Evangelist drives home this point: “Loyalty is almost dead in its current form. If you want to build a relationship with your consumers you need to focus on three things – staying in touch, listening to their needs, and serving them the best you can. And yes, social media can go a long way in helping you with all three.”

Summary

The social media gaffes discussed in this article are all easily preventable. However, as long as customers are interacting with your brand online, there is the ever-present-risk of negative feedback. If handled properly with reputation management though, it can be a powerful tool to gain loyalty from customers through your responsiveness and authenticity. So when interacting with your online communities, remember to keep it real – stay active, find your voice, serve up an interesting mix of messaging – and watch your social fan base grow.

Are there any memorable social media mistakes you’ve come across? Share an example in the comments below!