Whilst no longer in its infancy social media is not yet out of the adolescent stage and as we all know adolescence is a difficult age. There are still regular cases of big businesses getting it badly wrong, the latest example being British Gas when they tweeted an invitation for customers “get in touch for a chat” just after putting up their prices by 9.2%. Unsurprisingly customers were keen to talk. British Gas received 16,000 tweets in 2 hours, many of them unprintable.
So if big companies with their massive resources can get it wrong what hope you might ask is there for smaller businesses. Whilst you are never going to get everything right there are some mistakes that you can avoid. Here is my list of the top ten.
1. Assuming that social media doesn’t really apply to your business
The UK is the second biggest user of Facebook and Twitter in Europe. Fifty seven per cent of the adult population use social media EVERY day. But we don’t just use social media for entertainment, 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase and 66% of B2B decision makers used LinkedIn when selecting a supplier.
Make no mistake, your employees are on social media, your customers are on social media, your competitors are on social media.
2. Jumping in without a plan
Failing to have a proper plan for your social media activity is like setting off on a long car journey without a map or SatNav. You might enjoy the scenery but eventually you will get frustrated with not getting anywhere.
3. Treating social media as another sales channel
Social media is not direct marketing. Spend most of your time trying to promote your products and you will rapidly find your followers, if you have any, are keen to demote you.
4. Putting the wrong person in charge
Being under 25 is not a social media qualification. Social media is increasingly the customer front line. Choose carefully who is in charge and make sure that senior management are closely involved with the programme. Teach your MD to tweet!
5. Focusing on quantity not quality
Followers and likes are great but unless you are successfully engaging with them your social media activity will be unproductive. Of course you do need to achieve a critical mass, 500+ seems to be the point where things start to take off on most platforms.
6. Having unrealistic expectations
There has been so much hype about social media in the last 2-3 years that it is easy to expect too much too soon. Whilst a few companies do experience overnight success (blender manufacturer Blendtec is one example) for most it is a slow build. Think marathon not sprint.
7. Trying to do too much …or too little
You can’t do everything, well. It’s better to focus on fewer platforms and get more engagement than to spread yourself too thinly. Once you have chosen your main channels however it’s important to post and participate regularly.
8. Ignoring negative feedback
It used to be when you had a bad customer experience you told 13-14 people. Social media has changed that. Back in 2009, Dave Carroll, an unknown Canadian song writer, took a flight with United Airlines. They mishandled and broke his guitar and refused to pay him compensation. Dave wrote a song about it which went viral reaching over 100m people.
Negative feedback will happen but it can be turned into a positive experience for the customer and the brand. Ignore it and it will come back to haunt you.
9. Not bothering to measure your efforts
If you don’t monitor and measure your social media activity how do you know what to do more of? There are hundreds of free or low cost tools out there. There is no excuse.
10. Failing to recruit employees and customers as ambassadors
We live in a connected world. Most people will have 150 business contacts who in turn will have 150 contacts. If you are not leveraging the power of your employee and customer networks you are missing out on a massive opportunity to market your business at almost no cost.
As we emerge from the information age the next business evolution will be a social one. Social media is the stage on which this is conversation is happening. Are you part of that conversation?
About the Author
Greg Cooper is a marketing coach, a social media trainer and a LinkedIn specialist. He regularly runs public workshops in Bristol and Bath as well as bespoke in company courses. Find out more at Front of Mind Coaching.