Having your brand on social media is a no-brainer. With enough how-to and best practice documentation out there to exceed Gmail’s current inbox capacity, the vast majority of organizations know what they need to do to build an active and healthy social media presence.
What isn’t so obvious, however, is what not to do.
We asked our Twitter followers what they felt are the biggest social media no-nos that brands commit. This is what they told us.
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Too much focus on self-promotion over engagement
Those who have one-way communication with viewers. Never responding to concerns or comments, where negative or positive.
— Austin Fisher (@Stuxain) May 15, 2017
Of all answers provided by our Twitter followers, this was the most common. People are frustrated by brands that treat social media as a firehose for one-way promotional material rather than two way conversation—essentially removing the “social” aspect of social media.
Social media has the power to connect you with your followers for personal interactions. To miss out on this isn’t just a waste, it’s actually damaging to your business. The users who follow you on social media are expecting this type of engagement, and when all they get is your latest sales pitch, you’re going to end up building negative sentiment around your brand.
On social media only the best content survives. By only creating content that focuses on your brand, and your brand alone, you’re wasting your efforts and missing opportunities to engage and delight. This content won’t get shared or make an impact. Creating content that is shareable, memorable, and provides followers with some sort of value is the way to succeed on social while not annoying your audience.
Jumping on any and every trend
@hootsuite Posting absolutely unrelated memes, especially those you've seen a million times before.
— Casey Telford // (@CaseyRecklessPR) July 20, 2015
One of the ways brands try to reach audiences on social media is by tapping into cultural references, news stories, and memes. This approach can make brands more relatable and add a personal feel to corporate social profiles.
When done right, the impact can be fantastic. Poorly executed, it turns into trend-jacking that almost certainly damages your brand. It annoys users who think you’re trying to capitalize on a piece of news or cultural tidbit that has nothing to do with you.
So how do you avoid all of these risks and use trends in the right way? Here are a few rules to follow.
Remember, stick to your brand voice. Don’t ditch your normal tone in order to fit in. Instead, choose trends and references that will interest your audience and apply to your product.
Next, consider the meaning behind any trending event or hashtag. Is it a story that incites debate, or has passionate people split into two sides? Then it’s probably best to avoid it unless the debate is light (like #thedress).
Is it a political or sensitive subject? We recommend sidestepping it altogether, unless you want your business to take a stand (#LoveWins, for example). Is there any reason your brand would associate itself with the story? Your accounting firm will seem out of place talking about the MTV video awards, but might offer a helpful perspective when talking about why presidential candidates release tax information.
Finally, try and join in the conversation, not be the conversation. If people are talking, strive to contribute to that discussion. Don’t co-opt it and try to shift focus to yourself. Just like in real life, it’s annoying. People will ignore you—or worse—they might go out of their way to bash your efforts.
Don’t be afraid of trends, just approach them the right way considering all of the above rules. Doing so will open you up to a massive potential audience and help your brand make an impact on social media.
#way #too #many #hashtags #and #emoji 🙄 🤕 😒
When they use too many hashtags. It's a cry for recognition.
— Lennon Cihak (@LennonCihak) May 15, 2017
Thankfully, the trend of using a bajillion hashtags on every post is nearly dead. Most brands have gotten wise to the annoying hashtag racket, and know to focus on a few thoughtfully chosen and relevant ones.
Unfortunately, following in that trend’s place is the excessive use of emoji—small graphical icons used to visually express a thought, feeling, idea, or event. They are being overused as much as hashtags used to be, and seemingly without any real reason.
Emoji are a great way to add a visual element to your message. But, please, for the love of all things good on the internet, use them sparingly. 🙏
Silence, especially in response to critical comments
Don’t ignore your users—especially when they’re being critical of your brand. Social media gives you the chance to gain control of a situation, and being silent isn’t the right way to handle it. Address concerns to the best of your ability, apologize if necessary, escalate if required, and move on.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: never, ever, delete a reasonable complaint on one of your social properties. This is a sure-fire way to create bad buzz around your brand and hurt your reputation. When you respond, regardless of the issue at hand, at least people know that you’re listening.
In fact, silence is a bad approach on social media all around—not just in the face of criticism. People follow you for a reason, and it sure isn’t for that one tweet you publish every three weeks. You should be posting on a consistent schedule, even if it means curating content from other sources.
Bad customer support
In a similar vein, customer support issues being ignored are a regular source of frustration for social media users. If your business is on social media, you should be prepared for customer service questions.
Having a customer service strategy in place will help you avoid many of the issues that arise from a simple lack of preparation. A good social media dashboard will allow you to assign messages to your support staff or other employees who might be more knowledgeable on the subject.
Either way, make sure people’s questions get answered and concerns get addressed. Ignoring them will put your reputation at risk.
We want brands to succeed in social, and that comes with being a good netizen. Above are some clear cut examples of what not to do as a brand on social media. However, not every scenario will be this obvious. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Because managing fallout is infinitely more difficult than simply not posting in the first place.
This post was original published in July 2015. It was been updated with files from Andrew Pressault.