Opinion: What can go wrong in social media?

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There are loads of companies, be it small or large, itching to dive into social media platforms. But before you jump into the water, you need to ask yourself ‘do you really understand social media?’ Please don’t tell me “it’s basically registering on twitter or create a Facebook page.” No, it’s definitely not. Although they are easy to use, people tend to get overly confident about their social media skills. In fact it may backfire if you don’t use the platforms properly for your Internet marketing campaign.

In social media, first comes the ‘social’, then the ‘media’; the social media platforms, from your audience perspective, are the places where people can interact with their friends and families, whereas from a business view, they are the places where companies trying to raise their brands awareness and get close to their customers. But when kicking off their social media campaign, few companies are well aware of what the audiences are like today.

Audiences Today:

  1. Simply don’t trust ‘company talk’ anymore because they are sick of being bombarded with advertisements.
  2. They only engage with the content that really interests them.
  3. As the social media power has shifted to the audience’s side, many active audiences would generate their own content and mash-ups.
  4. It sounds so ‘last century’, but audiences today are still heavily influenced by word of mouth. Bear that in mind, treat social media like other online marketing techniques and try to avoid the following mistakes.

What to Avoid

1. No Response

If you have many positive comments from your customers, then well done! Remember to say ‘thank you’ to all your Facebook or twitter fans. But if you have any complaints put on your Facebook wall, do not ignore and pretend nothing has happened! Otherwise a unsatisfied customer might set up a Facebook war against you. Two months ago before I wrote this article,a Dell customer put his ‘rant’ on the Facebook wall, which was ignored by Dell’s social media team. That customer was so angry that he kept posting negative things on its Facebook wall .. the situation just got worse and worse as people could see Dell didn’t do well enough in customer care, which was a big damage to its reputation. What Dell and everyone else needs to do is to always apologize first and show resolution. Tesco has done really well in its damage control. When a ‘PR crisis’ is solved, it’s always helpful to bullet-point what actions you’ve taken to settle a specific complaint, just to keep other audience posted and maintain your reputation at the same time. So being responsible is the key.

2. Do Not Abuse Commonly Used News Hashtag to Promote Your Business

Twitter hashtags are useful to catch up real-time news and what the world is talking about. But then things go wrong. Some people affiliate their products/services by jamming links or accounts with popular hashtags that have no relevance to what you are promoting. People will find out immediately, which will only give your brand a negative online presence.

Do not tweet with more than 2 hashtags as it has no point to break up your sentence with so many hashtags. A facebook user commented about the twitter hashtag: “some poeple #hashtag #every #word #in #your #tweet! #I #hate #that #so #much!” So do we, so do we. Another extreme of misusing hashtag is that some people use a long hashtag to describe their entire tweet. For example, #Useonelonghashtagtodescribeyourentiretweet — does that look annoying? Yes, it does. Who would have the patience to figure out what the hashtag is trying to say?! We audience today are fast forwarding and have short attention span.

3. Do Not Mix Your Business Account With your Personal Account!

It’s very important to use a professional business profile to gain more online legitimacy. But make it separate from your personal profile as you never know when and how a setting is going to be changed and as a result you ‘open up’ all your personal information to your customers or business partners.Always focus when you want to post things on your business walls. If could be a disaster if you mixed them up when you are drunk. I’m sure you don’t want to post your hangover pictures on your business account. Always double check before you post anything for your business.

4. Not Being Able to Help

Many companies hire a social media agency to interact with customers directly online. But if the agency has little knowledge of your business and is unable to answer customers queries, then customers will doubt your credibility, not just yourself as a person, but your business as a whole.

5. Update Too Frequently

Being active on social media does not mean you should post something every one or five minute. If you try to annoy people, then do it. Updating too frequently for your business is like shooting bullets in people’s faces, which also makes you become a spam artist. Post your news once in a while and give it sometime before you update again.

6. Not Being Able to Integrate Social Media Platforms

Do not keep Facebook fans only on Facebook or Twitter fans only on twitter; move them around! Involve them in more than one plat form will help you to create a more active and engaging image in people’s heart.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, social media is there to maintain a good relationship with your customers. Talk ‘with’ your audience, not talking ‘to’ them, make sure you don’t unknowingly make the six mistakes and be human online — keep these tips in mind and good luck with your online campaign!

Yang Li
Yang runs her own blog that focus on meetings technology and has strong interest in SEO and social media area. Now she's working for Chillisauce... Read Full Bio
Yang Li

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  • Sage advice, time and time again I come across company’s who think just HAVING a Facebook page or twitter account signifies they are “doing” social media.
    Then they go on to make the worst mistake of using those channels as a one way funnel to promote their latest offers. Nobody wants to converse with someone who just talks endlessly about themselves, why should a social media profile be any different?

    • Agreed!

    • Yang Li

      Thanks for your nice comments! I’m glad you enjoyed reading this. ‘sage advice’ is an overstatement, haha, but thank you again! I agree with your points as customers now are so alert to ads and company talk. Companies need to learn that social media is not about selling; selling runs against the social media fabric.

  • I like your opinions but would like to add that no one can follow anyone elses social media opinions because social media is ultimately a unique experience for every user and each person should find what works for their account. I mix business with my personal account and that works for me, but I can see in some cases when this would not be a good thing.

    But to answer the question in your headline.. what can go wrong in social media? Well, what I see happen all too often is that new websites pop up and are coded really well, look beautiful, and even get some new members.. but the website doesn’t do anything NEW that Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc aren’t already doing. Reinventing the wheel is an UPHILL battle for sure. So to those programmers trying to come out with the next big thing, make sure you’re thinking outside the box. We don’t need another Twitter.

    Cool article Yang Li 🙂 really got my brains gears going this morning

    • Yang Li

      Thank you ScoDal! Valuable insights!

      If you mix your business and personal account and that works perfectly well for you, then stick with it. Be human online helps us gain more connections and interactions. We just need to bear in mind that always double check what we are going to post. The best content for our business posts is the ‘semi-professional and semi-personal’ mix, which adds more human touch =)

      Yes, thinking out of the box is defo the key! can’t agree more !

  • Most companies nowadays doesn’t think this way. So, what social media implies is that it’s a continuous interaction between the business and customers. Not its literal context. Such a good read for every business out there. Good job!

    • Yang Li

      Thank you Paula! will keep up the good work! please come back to see and comment on more of my posts. Looking forward to discussing more social media stuff with you guys here. Thanks for your support.

  • Jasmine

    Good article, thanks. I must say that it all became a little too much to handle. There are so many different platforms and to do Social media marketing properly you need to be on all the networks and creating articles and talking to people directly and in the end I had no time to work or be with my family. That is why I turned to Magicbuz which was a good thing because my client base increased which means the workload increased and I needed to be at my factory to handle all the orders and not playing on the internet.

    • Hi Jasmine, thanks for your comments! Yeah, I agree that there are loads social media platforms, not just FB and Twitter. As long as you can make sure the agency knows your products or services very well, and make sure the communication channels between you and the agency are always smooth, then your online marketing campaign would be great to roll out =)

  • Hi Yang

    Really great article!! Putting all the key points together and so sagely (as many others said above!). I love the part on hashtags… some people do that yes, but I also think it’s starting to integrate itself into our language too – when one of y facebook friends says something funny on facebook.. it’s inevitably followed with something like #justsaying – even though it’s not on Twitter!

    Social has become part of life, and life becomes more social. Very interesting to see how this all develops in the future!