Social media related blogs are rife with cautionary tales of social media failures; of individuals and company group efforts managing to not only harm brand image, but turn off present and future customers. For any business this is never an ideal marketing ploy or desired strategy, especially as the use of social media as a search engine is really beginning to take off. An increasing percentage of customers come directly to businesses after finding them on such sites as Facebook.
The question many clients ask us at Pronto, after hearing about social media horror stories, is: "How do we handle social media correctly, and utilize this trend to build our brand successfully?" Well, if you simply search online, you will find hundreds of thousands of results, which leads to a rather confusing answer. So, to save your time and frustration, we've collected, analyzed and waded in with our own specialized experience to offer you six tips on what not to do when it comes to social media and your business:
Tip 1: Don't lie!
Remember when you were growing up and were told never to lie? Well, some businesses, or more specifically the individuals running their social media profiles, seem to have forgotten this golden rule.
Setting aside the fact that not being open, honest and truthful is morally wrong, an untruth presented on social media, even a small one, can trip you up and come back to haunt you time and again. When you get caught, you could see irreparable damage to your brand's image and the reputation of your business.
After all, most business is built on trust - your customers trust you to deliver on what you say. It is a fickle world we live in and if you lose trust your once valued and loyal customers will seek a more reliable company.
Now, that's not to say you have to be perfect. There will be times when you get some details wrong on social media. The key is that if you make a mistake, take the appropriate steps to correct as soon as you realize, and don't be afraid of admitting you made an error if the situation calls for this response.
You might want to get in contact with those people affected by the wrong details too, depending on how critical your error was.
Tip 2: Don't self-promote! (all the time)
For many business owners and managers, the main goal of marketing is to promote your company. Because social media is an extension of company marketing strategies, it can be easy to slip into the habit of posting mainly about your business and taking every opportunity to brag, promote and bring home the point that your company is the best. That's what customers like to hear, right? Wrong!
Social media is about being sociable, much more than it is about blatant promotion. Try taking steps to share your content and also content from users. Comment on posts and even help promote content from other businesses. You are basically looking to create and stir up interest and interaction, as well as present a human face to your business.
As a result, when you do post something promotional, your social media followers will be more likely to accept and respond favourably, act on the information, or even share it with friends.
Tip 3: Leave the rough language at the rink
If you have ever watched a hockey game, you know it's a rough game where 'fight' is surprisingly not the most common F-word. Course language of any kind should be avoided in social media settings, as you are ultimately representing your company. The same goes for venting, complaining or airing grievances.
There has to be an element of forethought before action, or you could end up damaging your reputation and driving customers away. Social media is not about being yourself but about being accessible, interactive and personable. There is a big difference.
The best tone to strive for when it comes to content and posts is friendly and professional, while remaining consistent with the tenor of your other business communications. If you make a point of being cheeky in your communication, then by all means, be bring this flavor to your social media messages too.
Tip 4: Watch out for trolls!
Speaking of 'fights', while social media can be a great platform for sharing ideas and opinions it's not the ideal venue for a full-on scrap. It can prove to be one of the quickest ways to ruin your brand. If someone tries to pick a fight with you on a public channel, try to encourage them to contact you to discuss the issue in private.
Tit for tat looks shoddy online and all out war is not becoming of any business setup. No-one responds well to aggression, passive or active, and it's worth remembering that dealing with negativity in a positive way can afford you a good opportunity to improve your image.
That being said, there is a special kind of Internet persona lurking in various forums and sites, who loves to do nothing but try to stir up controversy and post spiteful and unwarranted comments. These people, or 'trolls' as they are commonly known, are out there and you will likely run across one eventually.
It is best to know how to spot them and ignore them. Most trolls actually won't resort to anger or insults, opting for taking the opposite viewpoint or posting comments to anger other users. If the conversation on one piece of content is generally going well, and someone posts a comment that is the complete opposite, be wary that you may be dealing with a troll.
Your best bet is to use your intuition and know when not to expend too much energy getting into a deep debate or tussle with them. This is what they're looking for!
Tip 5: Don't respond in anger
One of the key rules of business related communication is to never respond when you are angry. However, it's a good idea to respond quickly to potentially damaging content. If you receive a comment or complaint through social media that makes you seethe with anger, it can be tempting to fire off what seems like a witty retort or a sarcastic comment. In reality, it might come across as being rude and end up exacerbating the situation.
If you receive any negative comment or posts that cause you to react in a less than positive way, take a step back and accept that you can't be loved by all people all of the time. Take 10 minutes, an hour or even a day to cool down a bit and come up with a response that acknowledges rather than dismisses.
Think about offering solutions and suggestions. If you're unsure about what you're about to send out into the ether then ask someone you trust to cast an unbiased eye over what you propose to respond with. Complaints and criticisms can be great indicators of business processes that need more work, and it is this type of feedback and information that many businesses pay good money to find out about.
Tip 6: Don't forget to be social
Finally, social media requires you to be social. Don't just start a Facebook profile, put your contact information in and expect people to, a) connect with you, and b) want to do business with you. You should be as active as possible in order to build and maintain a solid brand.
If you post on a regular basis, and post content that your users want to see, (the best way to find this out is to actually ask them!), you should not only see your exposure increase, but your brand solidify and even your customer base rise.
Sharing and commenting are important too and it's not about being a fair weather friend. To really win fans and influence people, it's better to build solid relationships through quality content than jump in without any real substance sporadically.
Don't kid yourself that social media is a breeze. It involves attention and work, and takes time and commitment to get it right. But, if you know what not to do, then there is a good chance you will reap what you sow and see some value springing from your positive social media strategy.
Pronto can help your company get the most out of social media. Interact with us today and become a more social and connected business.
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