Social media has given companies unprecedented access to their clients. The real-time communication it facilitates can be a powerful tool to drive online customer traffic and increase brand reach. Of course, it has also magnified the potential for disastrous PR crises.
One benefit is you’re able to directly deliver content about your business to an audience that’s already expressed an interest in your company.However, frustrated customers, employees, and even random people on the Internet are able to broadcast their opinions about your company, regardless of whether they are positive, well-intentioned, or even factually based.
If you’re not careful, you could end up being used as a warning in posts like this. Remember the “United Breaks Guitars” fiasco? An upset customer made a music video about United Airlines’ customer service after his guitar was broken on a flight. That video was watched more than 16 million times.
Most of the worst social media pitfalls fall into one of five categories. If you protect your company from these common problems, you should be significantly safer. Of course, you should aim higher than simply not failing. We’ve also included five ways you can enhance your social marketing plan and five ways you can make your social customer support better
Common Social Media Pitfalls
Posting From Personal Accounts
Unfortunately, if you don’t pay attention, it’s all too easy to accidentally tweet from a corporate account instead of your personal account. Personal tweets or posts on a corporate page can be disastrous (Just ask Chrysler). Make sure you work in some safety checks to ensure this doesn’t happen to your company.
Taking Advantage of Tragedies
Playing off current events can be a great way to extend the reach of your brand, but make sure to read the tone before you do. Never try to capitalize on events that involve death, oppression, or tragedy. It will never go well. Avoid the mistakes of the Kenneth Cole, who tried to capitalize on rioting in Cairo to get more attention for his spring collection.
Inviting More Criticism
Opening a dialogue with your customers can be beneficial, but you want to be careful not to invite people to fill Twitter with negative feelings about your brand.
Before you start a hashtag campaign, take the pulse of your brand’s public perception. If it’s currently negative, don’t invite the whole Internet to add to it. Brands like SeaWorld and JPMorgan Chase had to learn this lesson the hard with with their #AskSeaWorld/#AskJPM campaigns.
Failing to Proofread/Check the Link
Always reread your tweets and double check the link before posting. Especially if you use a link shortener. A stray typo or a wrong link can lead to incredibly inappropriate posts. Even if you manage to catch yourself seconds after posting, there’s always someone ready to get a screenshot before you can press delete.
Hashtagging Without Research
Have you ever inserted yourself into a conversation without fully understanding what it was about and embarrassed yourself? Entering a hashtag conversation without doing your research is like that, but instead offending a few people, you risk angering millions.
A classic example is DiGiorno with the #WhyIStayed campaign. The campaign’s purpose was to talk about domestic violence, but someone at DiGiorno dropped the ball and tweeted “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”
Before you add a trending hashtag to your tweet, make sure you understand what conversation you’re entering.
5 Ways to Enhance Your Social Media Marketing
Get Comfortable with Giving Up Control
The strategy for social media is different than a typical marketing strategy; you have to be willing to accept that you aren’t in control. The second you put something on the Internet you relinquish control of the message. Your customers, hopefully, will interact with your content and run with it. You should aim to facilitate an atmosphere that allows your customers to create and contribute to conversations about your brand.
Embrace Multiple Platforms
While Twitter and Facebook are the most popular social media channels, you should have a presence on all relevant platforms. This doesn’t mean you should create an account for every channel. Identify which platforms complement your brand. You might consider platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, LinkedIn, and more.
Measure What Counts
It’s great to have a lot of followers, but at the end of the day, the metric that matters most is website referrals. Don’t base your social success simply on likes, followers, or shares. While these can be useful tools, the ultimate goal is to increase revenue. If your fans aren’t following through to purchase your products or services, it’s time to adjust your strategy.
Prioritize Social Media
If you only give social media a half effort, you’ll get equivalent results. You can’t build an online presence, cultivate relationships with influencers, or even figure out what works for your company if you relegate social media to a side job. If you want social success, assign it as a top priority for at least one of your marketing employees.
Get the Whole Company Involved
Incentivize your employees to connect with your company’s social pages and share content. The best way to do this is to make it simple. Send out emails with links to some of your new content. Not every piece will be relevant to every employee, so make sure to create and send a variety of material. Encourage your employees to share what they like with their friends. If you really want to get your employees involved, you can even create a rewards program based on how involved they are with the company’s social pages.
5 Ideas to Make Your Social Media Customer Service Better
Keep Calm and Own Up to Mistakes
You don’t get a second attempt at a first response, so after a crisis arises, you’ve got to nail it the first time. Own up to the mistake, apologize for it, and let your customer know how you’re going to make it better in the short term and prevent it from happening again in the long term.
The faster you can resolve the issue, the better. Make sure your employees are empowered to handle customer complaints quickly—even if it costs you some cash. It’s better to spend a little money to put out a small fire than invest millions in recovering from a PR nightmare.
Set Up a Response Plan
You will get negative reviews, responses, and posts. It’s inevitable. The best thing you can do is create response plans beforehand. The biggest mistakes happen when people are trying to figure out how to handle these things in the heat of the moment. Make sure every person who has their hands in social media in your company understand the protocol to follow when responding to a complaint or negative feedback.
Look for Patterns
Don’t think of complaints as isolated incidents. Look for larger trends. Someone should be responsible for tracking customer complaints so they can easily identify repeated concerns/complaints. If you start to seem common themes, you can send that information to people who can address the root causes of these issues.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground and Respond Quickly
Social media marketing is not a passive exercise, you need to actively monitor and search out conversations about your organization. If you notice negative feedback or posts, do not ignore them; ignoring these posts—or worse, deleting them—just gives them the opportunity to fester and garner sympathy. Quickly and respectfully address all concerns.
Treat Marketing and Customer Support as a Team
Most of the interaction between your company and your customers comes from two places—marketing and customer support. Consistent messaging and behavior between these two branches is key to your online success. Your customer support team and marketing team need to work together to ensure the integrity of your brand’s values, identity, and voice.
Written by Marcus Varner
Read more posts by Marcus Varner