Seven #socialmedia mistakes from big brands

In Loyalty & CRM, Social media by Oliver Arscott

Social Media, Customer Loyalty, David Meerman Scott, Habitat, McDonalds

Social Media: The Social Universe (or SociVerse if you are that way inclined) is both an astonishing opportunity and a total minefield for brands looking to interact with and delight their customer base. We have talked a good deal on this blog about the opportunities that a skilful handling of social media offers – notably here and here. What we have not covered in any real depth are the pitfalls when brands misunderstand or put too little time into the social media space.

So here in no particular order are seven of the top mistakes made by businesses in their social media strategy.

1. Believing that crowd-sourcing the marketing of a brand will only create positive responses

There have been notable examples of this recently. The #McDStories twitter campaign received widespread press coverage, but only because of the negative effect that it had on the brand. Marketers should keep in mind that campaigns such as this means that they lose control over the message, something that can potentially range from embarrassing to entirely devastating.

2. Failing to take action on social media complaints

Just as no right-minded business would ignore letters of complaint from customers, so too should they not neglect to respond to complaints via social media platforms. In fact, because complaints via Twitter are visible to the wider public, as is the response by the business in question, there should be even more emphasis on a timely and helpful response. This requires two things in particular: a combined approach to social across the business and a constant monitoring of all channels.

3. A complete failure of crisis management

A good business should have a plan in place to deal with any crisis that occurs. This is never more true than in the social space. On Twitter and other platforms everything you do can be scrutinised and mistakes can be blown way out of proportion. Silly decisions like Habitat advertising off the back of Iranian protests became widely known about because the decision was not put right in a timely fashion.

4. Rushing in without a coherent, organisation-wide strategy

Social media is applicable right across the business and should not just be siloed in the marketing department. If it is then businesses can find themselves in the situation where there are a number of ‘official' accounts giving conflicting messages to the public. In this day and age every business should have a senior director tasked with creating a unified social strategy, and they should have the authority to run this across the business and not just from the marketing department.

5. Assuming that social media is just a numbers game

I found out recently that for a price it is possible to bulk buy followers on to the social media platform of your choice. Whilst it is true that this does somewhat devalue the effort spent building communities, it is equally fair to claim that size really does not matter all that much. This might be contrary to popular belief, but I would claim that the time and money of busy businesses is better spent creating communities through interaction rather than just through trying to amass followers as an end in itself. If you do social media properly your followers will build up quickly, the difference being that this way it will be a committed community of brand champions.

6. Not quality checking each and every bit of content that is posted

This is basic, basic stuff and yet brands continue to get it wrong. Spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes are so easily avoided and yet when brands continue to make these mistakes it just makes them look like such amateurs. The 140 character or less rule means that businesses need to get inventive with your content, not lazy with their grammar.

7. Leaving official accounts inactive

I've had first-hand experience of this at a company I did some work with. An account that hasn't been tweeted, posted or interacted with in months makes the business itself look lazy and uninterested. It is simply not enough to have a page sitting there unused. If you are going to get into social media, do so whole-heartedly. If not then there is simply no point in making a token effort.

Social Media is set to be a major theme at this year's Loyalty World. For more information about how The North Face benefited from attending the event click here.