Last month, we held a short presentation about the do’s and don’ts of social media. Not surprisingly, we’ve come across even more face-palm moments captured on social media for the world to see, including some cross-over into print and other marketing avenues. The results are both mind-boggling and hilarious. Let the fun begin:
Don’t Use Unrelated Events or Holidays to Plug Your Business. If it’s Veteran’s Day and you want to celebrate the service that men and women have given to this country….then say that. The last thing you want to do is somehow tie in a holiday with your product or service in some overly promotional manner. There are ways to cleverly tie in events or holidays when it’s relevant. Take ZZQuil’s 2014 tweet on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. The sleep aid used a witty line to push their brand without going overboard; short, sweet, and still respectful.
Quite the opposite of clever was PETA, whose tweet completely disregarded the point of MLK day.
The moral of the story? Consumers are much more interested in your genuine interaction and engagement with them than in your sales pitches. The purpose of social media is to organically create relationships that foster brand loyalty, not to overly promote your brand or service. There are other platforms for that.
Pick the right platform for your content. Successful social media marketing should be well-rounded. Pay-per-click ads and other types of graphics can be leveraged to increase traffic to your website or social media platforms. However, it’s always important to design these specifically for social media and Internet usage and to use them there. Only Harcourts decided to use one of their digital ads in a print magazine, much to the chagrin of readers everywhere. Take a look at the ad. We’ll give you 10 seconds before it’ll be obvious.
Now where are we supposed to click again? Did we miss the release of digitally interactive newspapers somehow?
Never use tragedies to pimp your product. We’ve mentioned this one before, but for some brands it just doesn’t seem to be sinking in. It’s one thing to post a thoughtful tweet or update wishing the best following a terrible event. Fans of your brand like to see that you care. What they don’t like to see is a half-hearted attempt to pay your respects while shamelessly trying to sell your service or product.
Piggybacking off of a tragedy with timed or automated posts is another no-no. It’s important to keep up with the news so you’ll know when it’s appropriate to re-schedule posts so as to not seem insensitive to a national crisis. For example, it looks like the Kardashians weren’t ‘keeping up’ with their own social media, tweeting about Kris Jenner’s clothing line minutes after the Boston Marathon bombing. Naturally, fans weren’t pleased.
If you make a mistake like this, apologize immediately and take your lumps. Don’t make excuses; rather, detail the steps you’re going to take to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again. Fans can be very forgiving if you are sincere.
Another common mistake is trying to joke about a bad situation as a way to lighten the mood. A news anchor thought it was a good idea to post a tongue-in-cheek tweet about a local shooting.
No. Just no.
Another jokester, Aflac spokesman Gilbert Gottfried, thought it would be funny to joke about people drowning during the Japanese tsunami that killed thousands of people.
Don’t be impersonal. You’re not a robot. Be sure to engage with your customers in a meaningful way whenever possible. What you shouldn’t do is offer cookie-cutter responses or even worse, ignore an inquiry on your social media platforms. Negative comments are an opportunity to offer stellar customer service in a transparent way. Kmart apparently didn’t get the memo. In 2013, they announced extended hours for Black Friday sales, and when customers voiced negative opinions, Kmart offered each customer a response…the same response. Every time. Oh, boy.
Trust your social media to someone who knows the ins-and-outs of social media etiquette. In other words, don’t hand the keys to someone who’s not ready to drive.
Don’t get political. Savvy businesses know to never, ever bring politics to their social media platforms. We all know about the Chick-fil-A drama from 2012 that spawned a national boycott or support war (depending on what side of the debate you were on) as a result of CEO Dan Cathy’s statements on same sex marriage. Chick-fil-A made an official statement on their Facebook page as a way to try to rein in the backlash. Countless brands have fumbled their way through some political nightmares on social media because they posted their opinion or stance on heated topics. Best to leave these alone.
The annals of business will undoubtedly record millions of posts and tweets gone wrong. You might be one of them. Mistakes happen. If you are aware of best and worst practices, however, your ‘oops’ moments will be few and far between. So be sure you are educated on the do’s and don’ts of social media. Don’t ruin your company’s social life!