Opinion: What can go wrong in social media?

There are loads of companies, be it small or large, itching to dive into social media platforms. But before you jump into the water, you need to ask yourself ‘do you really understand social media?’ Please don’t tell me “it’s basically registering on twitter or create a Facebook page.” No, it’s definitely not. Although they are easy to use, people tend to get overly confident about their social media skills. In fact it may backfire if you don’t use the platforms properly for your Internet marketing campaign.

In social media, first comes the ‘social’, then the ‘media’; the social media platforms, from your audience perspective, are the places where people can interact with their friends and families, whereas from a business view, they are the places where companies trying to raise their brands awareness and get close to their customers. But when kicking off their social media campaign, few companies are well aware of what the audiences are like today.

Audiences Today:

  1. Simply don’t trust ‘company talk’ anymore because they are sick of being bombarded with advertisements.
  2. They only engage with the content that really interests them.
  3. As the social media power has shifted to the audience’s side, many active audiences would generate their own content and mash-ups.
  4. It sounds so ‘last century’, but audiences today are still heavily influenced by word of mouth. Bear that in mind, treat social media like other online marketing techniques and try to avoid the following mistakes.

What to Avoid

1. No Response

If you have many positive comments from your customers, then well done! Remember to say ‘thank you’ to all your Facebook or twitter fans. But if you have any complaints put on your Facebook wall, do not ignore and pretend nothing has happened! Otherwise a unsatisfied customer might set up a Facebook war against you. Two months ago before I wrote this article,a Dell customer put his ‘rant’ on the Facebook wall, which was ignored by Dell’s social media team. That customer was so angry that he kept posting negative things on its Facebook wall .. the situation just got worse and worse as people could see Dell didn’t do well enough in customer care, which was a big damage to its reputation. What Dell and everyone else needs to do is to always apologize first and show resolution. Tesco has done really well in its damage control. When a ‘PR crisis’ is solved, it’s always helpful to bullet-point what actions you’ve taken to settle a specific complaint, just to keep other audience posted and maintain your reputation at the same time. So being responsible is the key.

2. Do Not Abuse Commonly Used News Hashtag to Promote Your Business

Twitter hashtags are useful to catch up real-time news and what the world is talking about. But then things go wrong. Some people affiliate their products/services by jamming links or accounts with popular hashtags that have no relevance to what you are promoting. People will find out immediately, which will only give your brand a negative online presence.

Do not tweet with more than 2 hashtags as it has no point to break up your sentence with so many hashtags. A facebook user commented about the twitter hashtag: “some poeple #hashtag #every #word #in #your #tweet! #I #hate #that #so #much!” So do we, so do we. Another extreme of misusing hashtag is that some people use a long hashtag to describe their entire tweet. For example, #Useonelonghashtagtodescribeyourentiretweet — does that look annoying? Yes, it does. Who would have the patience to figure out what the hashtag is trying to say?! We audience today are fast forwarding and have short attention span.

3. Do Not Mix Your Business Account With your Personal Account!

It’s very important to use a professional business profile to gain more online legitimacy. But make it separate from your personal profile as you never know when and how a setting is going to be changed and as a result you ‘open up’ all your personal information to your customers or business partners.Always focus when you want to post things on your business walls. If could be a disaster if you mixed them up when you are drunk. I’m sure you don’t want to post your hangover pictures on your business account. Always double check before you post anything for your business.

4. Not Being Able to Help

Many companies hire a social media agency to interact with customers directly online. But if the agency has little knowledge of your business and is unable to answer customers queries, then customers will doubt your credibility, not just yourself as a person, but your business as a whole.

5. Update Too Frequently

Being active on social media does not mean you should post something every one or five minute. If you try to annoy people, then do it. Updating too frequently for your business is like shooting bullets in people’s faces, which also makes you become a spam artist. Post your news once in a while and give it sometime before you update again.

6. Not Being Able to Integrate Social Media Platforms

Do not keep Facebook fans only on Facebook or Twitter fans only on twitter; move them around! Involve them in more than one plat form will help you to create a more active and engaging image in people’s heart.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, social media is there to maintain a good relationship with your customers. Talk ‘with’ your audience, not talking ‘to’ them, make sure you don’t unknowingly make the six mistakes and be human online — keep these tips in mind and good luck with your online campaign!

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