Managing a business page on social media can be a bit like tagging along to a party uninvited. Yes, people probably won’t mind too much if you sit there quietly and don’t interrupt (unless of course you’re more charming than George Clooney carting a truck full of kittens), but if you have the personality of a sweaty old sock then you’re likely to rapidly find yourself becoming persona non grata before you’ve even tried the hummus.
The eternal paradox of social media is that whilst they are entirely reliant on businesses to fund them through increasingly elaborate ad campaigns, most regular users would rather they weren’t there at all. It is for this reason that marketers have to work harder than on almost any other medium to ensure that their campaigns don’t see a raft of negative sentiment build up around their brand.
Although most users would prefer businesses were kept at arms length on social, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to ensure that your presence is equatable to George Clooney and the aforementioned kittens. So, with that in mind here are five ways you can become the social media equivalent of a turd in the punch bowl;
1. Shoving your sh*t down people’s throats
No matter how wonderful you may think your new cordless drill with 22x torque settings and variable speed control is, the reality is that 99.9% of people on Facebook won’t give a toss (and the 0.01% who might care already have a better one anyway). The important thing to remember here is user intent. People are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc to unwind, catch up with friends and watch cats being attacked by cucumbers, they therefore aren’t going to be too receptive to you shoving products in their faces.
Instead, think about doing something that adds to the conversation and makes you instantly memorable. Going back to the cordless drill example above, take a look at the below Vine from Lowe’s, the home improvement store. Instead of posting an offer on hammers, they created a campaign based around six second home improvement videos. Not only is it memorable, but it is also extremely useful, and at just six seconds long, not too invasive on a users feed.
2. Using stock photography so soulless it makes people want to cry
Who has ever looked at a stock photo and thought “I need to share this with everyone” (if you haven’t guessed already, the answer is nobody, ever). Despite this, many businesses continue to repurpose generic stock images that mean nothing and can often come across as condescending to followers. Again, you have to realise that as a business, you are competing against pictures of Aunt Dorris’ adorable new puppy, and your high school crushes latest bikini snap on Instagram (just me then?).
Social media accounts are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that there are real people behind a business, and often to give employees a bit of an ego boost. Frankly, customers are much more interested in seeing Barry tucking into his twelfth slice of birthday cake than a generic photo of social media icons on a keyboard that has been used for the third time this month. Just look at the snap below from Nordstrom who regularly take “behind the scenes” snaps that help to bring their brand to life. Such content is now more important than ever, particularly thanks to the ever growing popularity of Snapchat. Not only that, but employees are much more likely to become brand advocates when it is them being featured in the content (apart from Dorris, although that’s a story for another day).
3. In fact…stock anything!
One of the perils of exposing your business to social media is the simple fact that at some point, somebody, somewhere will take umbrage to you and decide to vent on their preferred network. How you respond in the first instance (if at all) will largely define how the rest of the conversation unfolds. The reality is that most people just want to be heard and feel like they are valued, so a genuine response that is personalised (how difficult is it to use someone’s name at the very least), is vital to instantly defusing the situation.
Even if the eventual resolution isn’t what the customer may have wanted, making them feel like you are at least trying to help can turn a negative engagement into something largely positive. In this way you can immediately turn someone into a brand advocate as they begin sharing their positive experience with friends and family. Alternatively, you can always get a bit cheeky and turn into a social media sensation like Tesco mobile with this response…
— Tesco Mobile (@tescomobile) June 30, 2013
4. Jumping on topics just because they’re trending (some things are just best left alone)
Trending hashtags and news stories can be a great opportunity to expand the reach of your business, however they continue to prove a huge pitfall for many. From pizza chains trying to gate crash domestic violence hashtags, to sports franchises comparing comebacks to the struggles of Martin Luther King Jr. the catalogue of social media fails should be there to serve as warning to any business thinking about diving head first into the latest trending hashtag of the day.
Keeping your social media strategy loose however is no bad thing. The ability to be reactive and immediately respond to any kind of major news story can really help a brand stand out from the competition. Take the below example from Oreo that is often held up as the bastion of reactive social media marketing, when in reality the actual content itself is well, pretty sh*t. The tweet however was extremely timely and a great response to the Super Bowl blackout which would likely have sent many viewers straight onto their phones to check Twitter whilst the lights were turned back on.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— OREO Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
5. Failure to check…
Whether you’re tweeting about the weather, or wishing everyone a great FriYay, for the love of god make sure you check before you post. Check the weather before posting your 99 with a flake, make sure there aren’t any major breaking news stories that change the tone of Twitter, and possibly most important of all, make sure what you are posting is correct. From spelling mistakes to links to PornHub, brands have been caught with their trousers around their ankles on plenty of occasions so make sure you don’t become one of them.
The biggest trap many businesses fall into with social is scheduled content. Life is much easier when you schedule posts for throughout the week ahead, however you have to be mindful of which posts are due to go out and current world events. This is particularly prevalent at the moment with so many horrific stories in the news, and so businesses must be more careful than ever to ensure that their posts aren’t going to be seen as insensitive. Equally, be aware of who is managing your social accounts at any point – take the below example from HMV as evidence as HMV failed to remove employee access to their Twitter account whilst announcing a mass redundancy.