“We all make mistakes. But social media can frame those mistakes and display them infinitely”. – Darshan Soni
There is no denying the power of social media as a tool to remain ‘present’ and visible. Customers and companies regularly share updates, photos and information about their businesses and keep others informed about what they do. However if they don’t exercise caution – in posting information and managing that information, it could do much more damage than thought possible. Wrongful use can have a detrimental effect on a business and serve to destroy your reputation and chances of attracting more customers. Despite these costly effects many companies use these sites without being prepared and commit some very costly blunders on social media.
The common blunders brands make on social media are:
– Companies oft go on to using social media without really having a policy or a set of guidelines for their business. Handling of information and customers via this highly visible platform requires special skills and if the company’s employees are unaware of how to conduct themselves via these sites, it could prove disastrous. Companies must educate and train their staff members on how to manage the customers, data and themselves online. The staff must be instructed on the dangers of representing themselves and the company in poor light via comments and help they provide to customers via this medium.
– There are a plethora of social media sites and each has their own distinct language and audiences. One amongst the blunders brands make on social media is to treat all sites as the same. Blasting across the exact same message via all the sites dilutes the value of the message making it seem detached and bogus. While the essence of the message needs to remain the same, companies must understand how customers communicate, ‘speak’ and share on a particular site. The message must be tailored to suit individual sites by using appropriate words and expressions.
– The other blunder companies make on social media that fails to attract customers and impress the current ones, is not having a well-defined and structured company profile. A great profile would include location of your business, website address, what your company does and some great customer testimonials. A site that ‘speaks’ to customers on a well-rounded level will create the right impression on your customers and make them like you enough to recommend you forward.
– Using this medium as your loudspeaker is probably one of the worst blunders brands make on social media. The medium says ‘social’ for a reason – it means a platform where customers can engage and have an online dialogue with and about your brand and company. Your company must ensure that it has a dedicated set of highly skilled personnel to handle these ‘conversations’ and also lend a human and personalized touch to these interactions. Without such interactions it would be difficult for brands to garner loyalty which in turn stunts sales and profits. Having a social site for the sake of it and one that is badly managed is one of the more serious blunders brands make on social media.
– It feels great to have a large number of ‘visitors’ and ‘followers’ on your company’s social site. However, indulging in unethical means to get a large number of such visitors is one of the worst blunders brands make on social media. The fact is people can easily sift the actual following from forced ones and it is also true that have a large quantity of ‘likes’ does not ensure or equate to sales and profits. What companies must focus on is to have a loyal set of customers even if they are not many in number rather than having a sea of ‘followers’ on their social sites. A few ardent customers have the capacity to turn ‘the tide’ in your brand’s favour and build lifelong loyalty which ‘fake’ followers cannot and will not do.
– It is highly tempting to want to post information and content on the company’s social site. However, posting stuff for the sake of it is more likely to irritate your customers and get them to ‘unlike’ and ‘un-follow’ your brand. Companies must take time to first listen to what customers want and then post information that is relevant and interesting to them. Even then, information must not be updated too many times in an hour lest it loses its relevance.
– Another one of the blunders brands make on social media is to become ‘part of a conversation’ or news item without really having the relevant expertise or knowledge of the subject being discussed. Commenting or trying to be part of conversation that you have no expertise on, only serves to make your customers to see your brand and company as ignorant and blasé which in turn will damage your reputation.
– If you are on social media, your company and brand cannot afford to ignore or delete comments from customers especially the negative ones. This only infuriates customers more and makes the situation more precarious for your company. Even if it not your company’s fault, it is best to be forthcoming with an apology and offer to contact the person via any means they wish. Non- acknowledgement of the customer’s comment can prove to be amongst the more costly blunders brands make on social media. It is important for companies to remember that they must remain professional and maintain respectful composure even while responding to a comment that seems uncalled for or that is almost personal in nature. If your brand responds negatively, you are providing fodder for damaging talk from other people and customers and this would end up harming your company in many ways, especially by alienating your current customers.
– Responding late or not quickly enough to a customer complain posted online is akin to ignoring the comment and as discussed one of the worst blunders brands make on social media. If you are on this visible platform, you have put yourself up for discussion and comments and more importantly for customer service. If you respond at your own pace, you are most definitely inviting public criticism. On an average, customers expect a response within an hour or two via social media and if you don’t have the band-with to respond to customers in the time period they deem appropriate, then you are putting yourself up for defeat and oblivion.
– Social media is all about remaining fresh in the minds of customers. There are so many players out there, that customers really won’t take the trouble to notice you or have patience with your brand if you don’t strive to update your posts regularly. Not posting frequently enough is among the oft repeated blunders brands make on social media. Either you have the commitment and perseverance to post regularly and provide your customers with something new and exciting, or then risk customers going over to brands that make time for this important aspect.
– Having said that frequent posts are necessary, ensure that your posts are not rote and ‘faceless’. Make sure that each customer feels like they are being spoken to individually. Customers hate interacted with unnamed and impersonal messages and consider it among the unforgivable blunders brands make on social media. A personal touch always has a more long lasting and weighty impact on the minds of the customers. The same is true for responses – they must portray interest and empathy and have the ability to leave even an irate customer with a positive impression. Remember every response that goes out to customers is a reflection on your brand and company – make it count.
These are probably just a few of the common blunders brands make on social media. Every company must have faced some unpleasant experiences and would know what mistakes they committed. It is vital for companies to know that the ‘followers’ of your brand are doing so because they think highly of your brand. Let them know that you are grateful and acknowledge their support. On the flip side, don’t make the mistake of imagining that everyone who ‘views’ or ‘likes’ your comments online wants to establish a relationship with your company or brand.