It’s seemingly impossible to escape the scary, sometimes gory claws of social media these days. So much so that the gentle journey is more of a ghost ride and the trick is more commonplace than the treat. Social media is woven in to the fabric of society and we shall all be sharing with others pictures of our darling children’s costumes, the buckets of sweets we have bought, and various Halloween-related activities.
As our favourite Pagan festival nears, and pumpkins rather curiously make their way in to pies, it’s worth reminding ourselves of a few horror stories of “social media gone wrong” and where businesses may want to learn from past mistakes, whether they be related to Halloween specifically or not.
- Lack of responsiveness
One of the most common mistakes for businesses is their social channels are unresponsive. The key purpose of social media is to interact with followers and a lack of interactivity is sure to prove fatal. American Airlines for example, made a hash of an incident in which a customer tweeting the airline, which were experiencing a number of cancellations, only for an autoreply from their account to say that no one was available to return them message.
- Misinterpreting a trend
Being responsive to trends is great. It enables your business to be on the front foot, and up to date with current affairs. But be very careful with which current affairs to engage with. There are numerous examples of businesses engaging with very sensitive topics in order to appear on-trend. And it is not only insensitive; it’s likely to damage your brand.
- Don’t just sell, sell, sell
One of the biggest social media mistakes is using social media channels just to sell. Facebook and other social channels are not purely there as an opportunity to sell. Use the opportunity to be social, share engaging content, and give something back. If customers wanted your product catalogue, they’d look on your website.
- Be unique
Doing what everyone else is doing is convenient and easy. But it doesn’t help to differentiate who you are and what you are about. If you find something that helps separate you from the rest then exploit that opportunity. Forever-21, a clothing brand, created a huge wall of individual cotton spindles. The screen of spindles was so vast that they could individually manipulate the colours of the spindles to replicate photographs of their social media fans. Perfect for sharing with friends etc.
- Appeal to your audience
It sounds very obvious, but too regularly businesses will share content about their business, rather than sharing content that is applicable to the lives of their customers. A regular feed of who the business is, what it sells etc won’t be as appealing as content which taps in to the daily lives of the customers that follow your business. The easiest way to accomplish this feat is to use a calendar of content that helps plan out themes for the weeks and months ahead.
- Be careful who manages your social content
A small team of articulate socialites usually manages good social content for a business. They understand the business, their competitors, current trends, and are very creative. So much so, that you need to be careful not to get on their bad side. When HMV decided they needed to reduce headcount, and the socialites working their social channels were in the firing line, where do you think the socialites vented their frustrations? Yep, on the company’s public Twitter account.
- Don’t be too robotic
Often, the easiest way to put people off is to lack humanity. Behind the mirage of social media are people. And your social media content should reflect what you would say in person to one of your customers. O2 recently mastered this concept. After a network outage, the company replied with apologetic responses and confirmed they were working to fix the issue as quickly as possible. The answer to the problem does not need to toe the party line, it can involve some level of human interactivity, as long as whatever issue is being resolved.
Author: Tom Jullings
I work with clients to improve the digital marketing experience they present to their customers – from web design and SEO to outreach marketing and social media.
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