This article appeared on the Times Of Malta’s iTech supplement on Thursday 11th April 2014, under the name ‘Social Media Mistakes’.
We talk about social media quite a bit on this site, and with good reason; it’s become a common, indeed, ubiquitous phenomenon, and everyone has questions to ask about social media. I wrote that ‘doing social isn’t just having a Facebook page‘ but that’s just one of the many errors companies make when ‘going social’.
This is a list of 5 common mistakes companies make when using Social Media. Learn from others’ social media mistakes!
First social media mistake – Ignoring the social media
The first mistake companies make is to ignore social media and think that just because they ‘don’t do social media’ they’re not on the social networks anyway. Put simply, nowadays, you don’t get to choose whether your company or brand maintains a presence on the social media; it’s already there. And with every unaddressed complaint people post about you and your brand, you’re only sliding down lower into social media infamy. Better maintain a presence there and have a good standing marred only occasionally with a complaint or two, than be completely silent barring a flow of complaints (which you’re not even aware of).
Second social media mistake – It’s NOT advertising
The second mistake companies make when using social networks is thinking that the social media work like a radio or a newspaper advert. They don’t. Every social network has an element of feedback and dialogue built into it; predominantly this is called the ‘comments section’ but others exist too. In any case, the social media are not a broadcast where companies can just beam out messages; in social media messages are sent and received in a constant ebb and flow.
Social media mistake number 3 – Great Expectations
The third mistake companies make when using social media is to have incorrect expectations. Without a proper plan and realistic targets, you will be disappointed or worse, stunned. You don’t just go and ‘do social media’, you research, compare what the competition is doing, set your goals and targets, plan, prepare and start executing and measure and adjust thereafter. Don’t expect immediate results and don’t expect a flood of cash. With carefully managed expectations and well managed social media programs, large gains can be made, but not without. Sorry, just being realistic here.
Set goals, and set good goals which are aligned to your business strategy. Simply saying “We want 6000 likes by the end of 6 months” without identifying the reasons why you want this amount of likes and what you will attempt to do with them thereafter is a very poor goal indeed. I’ve known companies that paid very good money to have X number of likes without having any inkling as to what to actually do with those Facebook likes once they got them. All due respect to them, but that’s not a very smart way of spending money.
Mistake number 4 companies make with social – It’s called free speech
Fourth, and this is a sore point for many, you can’t shut people up. Unlike the old days of letters to the editor, people nowadays know they have the power and are not scared to use it. If you delete a disparaging comment in the hope that this will get you out of dealing with it, be prepared for a screenshot of that comment to appear on a consumers’ group on Facebook. If you fail to honour a warranty or a promise, be prepared for an assault. That’s just the way things are, especially with a younger, more tech savvy audience. Deal with criticism just like you would in your brick-and-mortar place of business; with professional attitude and genuine concern and take it off the Facebook page or Twitter account and into personal email AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Lastly, social media mistake number 5 companies make – Nothing is free
Social media is not free. The attitude of ‘let’s make a Facebook page and post once a week’ is an erroneous one to have. Sure, the basic tools are free and Facebook doesn’t charge for Facebook pages but social media requires content, stories to share, business intelligence and acumen and most of all, common sense and people skills. All of these take time to grow and foster in individuals. Needless to say, time is money, and experience even more so.
Know of other unforgivable social media sins committed by companies? Let us know in the comments below.