Written By: Andy Morris
With PR disasters fresh in everyone’s minds thanks to Pepsi and United Airlines, brands should be thinking about proactively building strong relationships with their audiences. At its core, social media is all about connecting with audiences, which makes it a great tool to use for these purposes.
When it is not used correctly, though, social media can cause a PR disaster of its own. And with the ease of automation tools and the obsession around follower quantity – as opposed to communication quality – marketers can easily lose focus on connecting with their audiences and commit a dire social mishap.
Although social media is very accessible, it requires that you do your homework upfront as well as keep an eye out to ensure you are always on the mark with your audience. Otherwise, the platforms will do you more harm than good. Keep reading to learn the most common social media mishaps and steps you can take to ensure you do not fall prey to them.
3 Social Media Mishaps and Tips to Avoid Them
1: Overdoing the automation and coming off insincere.
Social media automation, it is every marketer’s dream. These tools make it easier than ever to compose your social posts months out, simply set and forget. Forming an ongoing relationship with your ideal customers becomes as easy as spending an hour or two writing all of your statuses for the next few weeks. They save you time and, if you are using them correctly, make you money.
If you overuse social media automation tools, though, at best you will come off robotic and, at worst, you will commit a serious social faux pas that goes viral before you even realize it.
How to Avoid This:
- Balance timely, human-made posts with your automated posts, and use the time you saved from scheduling in advance to invest in crafting truly engaging, relevant social posts.
- Regularly check up on your social channels to ensure that your content is being engaged with – and to ensure that something you scheduled a month ago is not turning heads for the wrong reasons now.
- Do regular outreach by look at your mentions, comments, and reviews, and craft individual responses.
2: Not following the rules of engagement for each channel (and each audience).
There are a lot of people and potential customers on social media. There are also a lot of channels you can reach them with. If you treat them all the same, though, or spread yourself too thin, you will not only look silly – using a trending Twitter hashtag on Facebook, for example – and potentially commit a social offense, your social efforts will not work and you will be wasting resources.
How to Avoid This:
- Study up on your potential audience on each channel, and if you already have a following on your social channels, do an audience audit and find out who you are talking to.
- Look at competitors to see how they communicate, and take notes from what works for them on each channel.
- Do research on the best times and ideal frequency for publishing on each channel. For example, you are going to want to publish on Twitter much more than you do on Facebook.
No channel is the same; similarly, your audience on each channel is not the same. You should tailor your language as well as your cadence and your content type to what works best for each channel and its audience.
3: Ignoring complaints or reviews (or, even worse, giving generic responses).
Social media is not just a channel for brands to speak to their audiences. It is a place for your audience to speak back. Whether they share positive experiences or serious grievances, it is your responsibility to be responsive.
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this: respond to comments quickly, and respond authentically, especially if they are angry. Otherwise, this anger could snowball and you could end up with a PR nightmare and a serious hit to your social performance.
How to Avoid This:
- Regularly monitor your social accounts as well as review sites to ensure you do not miss a comment.
- Collaborate closely with your customer service professionals on a response plan and set standards around response time.
- Thank all positive comments and reviews, and show authenticity by using the commenter’s name and mentioning the topic of their comment.
- Address all negative comments and reviews in public, but follow up personally to explore the issue further and take any necessary action.
Watching out for negative reviews or angry comments is not just about putting out fires. In fact, a great experience on social can turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate. What could be better than that?
Making the Best of Social Media
It is important to note that, if you are lucky enough to build up a large and engaged audience, you will have to have even more diligence. Given how quickly things can spread on social media, real damage could occur if you do not heed the tips above.
If social media is starting to feel like more pain that it is worth, remember that social media is essential to the success of modern brands. You want your audience to trust you and communicate with you, and having a well-maintained social media presence is one of the best ways to do that.
What you should and should not say on social depends much on your audience, but the above three social mishaps are detrimental for all brands, no matter the audience Ultimately, you need to remember your audience and, if you make a mistake, the best thing to do is quickly acknowledge it and apologize.
Author Bio: Andy is a digital marketing specialist who has worked for a number of high ranking digital marketing agencies. He currently works for Marketing Heaven and is dedicated to helping his clients get ahead in their marketing efforts. He has a loving family and enjoys traveling.