One of our favorite sayings is, “You don’t learn how to do things right if you don’t do them wrong” meaning that the learning process involves quite a bit of wrong to find out what is ‘right.’ While the road to social media success is not immune from the testing theory, one very big mistake (or mistakes) on social media can land you in very hot water—or not get you the results you’re on social media to achieve. To save you from the embarrassment of a business social media post or comment gone wrong, the backlash (not to mention jeopardizing your job security), and the inevitable “FAIL” stamp on your social media efforts, we’ve listed some very bad social media mistakes made—and being made—by businesses on social media.
Making light of a horrible situation
Everyone appreciates a bit of humor, but make sure you don’t apply that levity to a situation that doesn’t warrant it (i.e. death, bombing, violence, etc.). The internet is full of articles about brands that made humorous comments about a crisis, and it didn’t bode well for their brand. Treat the situation with the sympathy it requires—not the misplaced joke that repels customers.
Lesson: Think twice, post once. Be cautious about using humor—especially related to a current event.
Ignoring comments from customers
A neglected angry customer is a ticking time bomb. An ignored potential customer is not going to become a paying customer. We have personally seen the effects of a ticking time bomb: a floor company’s Facebook page filled with angry rants from the same customer under EVERY post. Worse yet, it took days (and many posts) for the company to realize what was going on. Learn from their mistake: pay attention to your social media pages and respond to every customer that tries to interact with you on social media (for other tips on how to deal with the angry online customer, click here).
Lesson: Monitor your social media channels regularly, and have a process in place for responding to negative comments.
Responding to every comment with a canned response
You can picture this if you haven’t witnessed it in person: a food company that produces children’s products receives a complaint from a customer on social media. In the blink of an eye, the company’s page is full of customers with the same complaint. The company responds to every post (to their credit), but with the same (obviously copy and pasted) response. This irritates the customers even more, and soon the crisis is spreading like wildfire.
Lesson: Respond to each customer with a personal, real human voice.
Let’s get something straight: social media is not a billboard. It’s a conversation. If you want to be part of the conversation with your customers, don’t beat them over the head with posts that sell, sell, sell. One of the top social media mistakes we see is businesses that look at social media only as a form of advertising. It’s also one of the key ways we educate our clients when they hire us for online marketing expertise. Instead follow the 80/20 rule so you are building trust with your customers (and potential customers). Eighty percent of your posts should be relevant information. The other 20% should focus on your products and brand.
Lesson: It’s okay to sell on social media, but social media marketing is a more subtle form of marketing. Create a schedule that follows the 80/20 rule.
Posting personal comments to your business account
This sounds like common sense, but it’s incredibly easy to do. One wrong click can leave your business social media followers snickering about your wild and crazy night; we guarantee your boss won’t take it quite as well. That’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a personal voice; it does mean you should post your dinner and stories for your friends, not your customers. Trust us, your friends will respect you in the morning (hopefully)—your customers and employer, not so much.
Lesson: Check, check, and double check before posting so that your personal opinions and comments stay off of your business social media account.
Classic social media feast-or-famine approach
It’s a cycle that just keeps repeating on social media pages: business posts, posts again, posts again, and then…days pass. Weeks pass. No tweets or posts. Suddenly, the business starts posting again. Then nothing. Social media results come from a schedule of regular and relevant posts.
Lesson: Create a schedule of relevant posts, and stick to your schedule. If you can’t, hire a company who can keep up a regular social media schedule with relatable information.
Not knowing who you’re talking to
What good is talking to a room full of people who don’t care about what you’re saying? How is that room full of people supposed to care about what you’re saying if it doesn’t apply to them? Apply that same concept to social media: know who you’re talking to, so your proverbial “room” or social media followers doesn’t fall asleep by your social media posts.
Lesson: Know who your social media audience is, and choose content that is relevant to their lives.
Spamming other businesses
Posting to another business’ website without their permission is a sure-fire recipe to get you in trouble. Use this trouble-free theory in your social media marketing: ask first, post second. Don’t post on other business social media sites trying to reach their fans without their permission. It’s that simple.
Lesson: Establishing relationships with other businesses is good practice, but don’t betray that trust by posting without asking permission.