It goes without saying that social media is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses. Used correctly it can increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your site, lead to increased sales and allow you to interact with customers in a way that wasn’t possible before. It’s free, it’s fast, and it allows you to keep the channels of communication open post-sale – so completing a purchase doesn’t have to be the end of the line for you and your customer.
Yet regardless of the many benefits social media offers the savvy business, those that aren’t switched on can find themselves at best embarrassed, and at worst, hurriedly scraping together a damage limitation plan. If you don’t fancy ruining your reputation, here’s Further’s seven deadly social media sins.
Social media sin #1 – Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
Perhaps the biggest mistake many businesses make is to launch head-first social media without having a strategy in place. Those that do are easy to spot, because they have no goals and no gameplan. They’ve got stale old content on their pages, no images, no video and no comments – it’s an internet ghost town, and it looks terrible.
Companies with a solid social media strategy in place are busy engaging with fans and followers and creating unique, shareable content and posting it often. They’re building a growing, like-minded community and continually encouraging them to check the company page to see what’s new. Get a social media strategy in place and lay out some key objectives for what you want to achieve and you won’t be ignored.
Social media sin #2 – Build it, and leave it
Far too many businesses jump straight in to social media and create multiple accounts, only to quickly get bored and abandon them after the initial excitement passes. The message is simple, if you can’t keep a profile up-to-date then delete it. It looks thoroughly unprofessional to create an account, and then only update it every few months as it suggests that your lazy attitude to social media is prevalent throughout your whole business..
With planning (it only takes about ten minutes, twice or three times a day) to maintain all of your social media accounts and reap the benefits, so there should be no reason to leave those accounts gathering virtual dust.
Social media sin #3 – Too much self promotion
We all use social media to promote our products and services and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re dealing with social networks, you also need to think about the community you’re part of, and make sure that your conversation isn’t one-sided.
Think of social networking like normal business networking. You’d look very odd if you started to spout mindlessly about your business to a someone you had just met at a dinner party – the same applies here. Listen to what people are saying and respond appropriately, and you’ll find that in turn, you’re listened to.
Social media sin #4 – Sloppy work – auto direct messages and auto posting
We hate to say it, but setting your Facebook apart from your Twitter account by posting different content on each is one of the most important things you can do, so stop posting the same articles and pictures on each one. Yes, it’s easy, but it also looks lazy – and suggests you’ve got no imagination. We recommend that you make each one unique – pictures and videos are more sharable and have the capacity to go viral.
On a slightly different note, but still under the umbrella of content, may we just advise you against using auto direct messages (DMs) on Twitter? They look false, you know everyone else has received one, and absolutely no thought has gone into your first contact with a new follower. Avoid.
Social media sin #5 – Poor customer service and over-moderation
As odd as this may seem, legitimate negative reviews are far from the worst thing that could appear in your @mention stream, or on your brand’s Facebook page. If anything, they make the positive ones seem more authentic. Not to mention they bring poor user experiences to your attention, so you can deal with them swiftly, please the customer, and save the day! Consider keeping them around, unless they’re libellous or obscene. Plus, nobody’s perfect, and it won’t do your business any harm to show your followers that you’ve got a human side.
Try not to react aggressively when you read a negative post or tweet; if it’s genuine, you’ll anger the plaintiff further, and if it’s meant to rile you, you’re just letting the other party ‘win’. Always be polite, respond promptly, and take this opportunity to show your customer that you’re able to make the situation better for them. Turning a negative experience into a positive one, promptly, is far more worthwhile for your business than an endless list of glowing reviews.
Social media sin #6 – Don’t look needy
As keen as you may be to make new friends and influence people, don’t go overboard. People will assume you’re desperate for fans if they see that you’re following 5,000 people and you only have 50 fans – plus, we bet that not all of those people you’re following are relevant to your business. Value yourself, and value your social media by taking your time to pick appropriate followers – if you’re writing great content, using multimedia and updating your page regularly, don’t worry. Your fans will accumulate slowly yet surely.
Social media sin #7 – Keep an eye out, but don’t stalk!
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition, and see what you’re up against. However, we would advise against two things that fall under the remit of sussing out your competition. Number one – don’t follow them. It suggests you think they’re better than you, and you could learn from them, which is definitely not the case! Secondly, if you see they’re running a successful campaign, don’t copy them. Yes, they will find out, and yes, they’ll tell the world that they’ve been plagiarised – which will make you look dreadful. Observing from a distance is all you need to do.
So there you have it, seven deadly sins you need to avoid if you’re serious about setting your business apart in the ever-changing world of social media.