Don't make these 10 social media mistakes

by Stephanie Nour Prince, July 30, 2013

Social Media Mistakes

There is no shortage of online advice on how to handle your business’ social media presence; “be personable”, “listen”, “post images”, and “don’t spam” are common tips.

As individuals, startups, and corporations have adopted social media as their main avenue for reaching potential customers or fans, the number of social media “gurus” and subsequent advice have saturated the social media community. 

But as much as these “experts” seem to have a cure all solution, nothing is better than constant iteration via trial and error. At Wamda, the best strategy for us is to constantly monitor new trends and user behavior in order to focus on the best times, content types, and posting styles, especially as social media platforms themselves continue to evolve. 

Below are a few tips for managing your social media posts and getting the most out of your content:

1. Avoid formatted answers at all costs.

Anticipating some of the questions or comments you might face is a great way for social media managers to make sure they’re comfortable with the material and can tend to clients in a timely manner. Yet, pre-written form responses could make it look like you’re pasting answers from client to client; the same answer over and over again can risk dehumanizing your brand. Try not to copy and paste the same tweet; go beyond customizing it by just switching prepositions around and inserting your client’s name.

2. Don’t thank your client for something before they’ve done it. 

It’s no secret that social media managers are at the forefront of most customer-brand interactions, especially in times of crises. This means that you often have to deal with frustrated customers who have been inconvenienced by your product or service. Customers who reach out to you when they face a problem often generate excellent leads, and their feedback should always be taken into consideration. Nothing screams “We don't really care” more than a one-tweet answer acknowledging the problem and thanking them for their understanding. Instead, start a conversation, show that you care, and appreciate that they’ve come to you with their problem. Stay polite, and don't be condescending. Try not to thank them for their patience in a generic manner.

3. Don’t (over)kill the conversation.

It’s one thing to be part of the conversation, and it’s another to use that conversation to show how well you’re doing to the rest of your audience. If you must share what is being said about you, be very selective about the mentions you retweet. Try not to retweet every single tweet mentioning you.

4. Make it private.

While it’s great to show the rest of your audience that you listen and interact, it is rarely necessary to carry on the full conversation in public tweets and replies. Sometimes, your client or potential client might feel more comfortable describing the problem or sharing more information in private. Suggest bringing the conversation to a direct message or inbox; you’ll avoid spamming the rest of your followers as well. Just make sure to post a public update (when relevant). Try not to ask your client to share information about their account on a public timeline.

5. Keep track of suggestions, and implement them.

Your customers’ suggestions offer great insight into what your next rollout should include. While they might sometimes be just a little too far-fetched, it’s always smart to benchmark the direction you’re taking against audience suggestions. If you’re applying Lean Startup principles, these recommendations feed right into your experiments, and engagement can give you leads on who your customers truly are. Try not to promise your audience to look into something and not come back to them with updates.

6. Take a fresh approach to each channel.

If you’re dealing with a diverse, international audience, it’s great that your brand recognizes the need for different channels through which to share different types of updates and content, but it’s also true that you’ll sometimes need to share similar updates across these channels. At Wamda, we’ve recently launched the French version of our website and it’s a milestone we were very excited to reach. In parallel, we’ve created a separate Twitter account to which we’re transitioning all communication in French: @WamdaFR (Please let us know how we’re doing). Make sure to tailor your message accordingly by using a different hook, highlighting a different element, or choosing a different type of post. Try not to copy and paste the same message and slather it across all pages. This also applies for your personal accounts; at least shake up your tweets on the same topic. 

7. Launch and adapt.

One great way to boost engagement with your audience is by using campaigns, whether in the form of ads, competitions, apps for your products, or games. One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to expect your new product or site to pick up steam immediately after it’s launched. If you want to make sure your campaign bears fruit, solicit feedback and constantly adapt. Try not to launch your campaign, see that it’s not picking up, but keep posting about it anyway.

8. Keep it fresh but relevant.

Brands that use their social media channels only to push content about their own products are, more often than not, those with lower engagement rates. Make an effort to share content that doesn’t directly promote your own products or services but is still within your company’s focus. For example, cleaning products company Clorox regularly posts about different types of germs and bacteria you should look out for in your home. There’s a reason people follow your brand and it’s because they want to learn what’s going on in your space. Try not to post about healthy gut flora if you’re a telco. Stay relevant in your sector.

9Uninformed replies will backfire. 

In the realm of social networks, some netizens believe that any answer is better than no answer at all. However, an uninformed reply is never better than an actual answer. If the problem is unclear, acknowledge that there is an issue, investigate it, and share updates when that’s possible. Brands that deal with crises in a transparent ways more often than not earn a lot of trust for doing so. If the problem was significant, such as a botched order on an e-commerce site or a site being offline for hours due to ISP problems, then pay it forward. Offer discounts, goodies, extra services for a limited period of time, or even a personalized video shoutout. Try not to downplay the reported issue or blame it on the one “rogue” employee.

10. And finally, ask for feedback.

Ultimately, you want your audience to feel encouraged to share their thoughts about your service, and tell you how you’re doing. If you’re wondering why you’re not getting as much feedback as you’d like, think about the number of times you’ve clearly and directly invited them to come to you with questions and comments. Come up with a few polls, add a feedback widget to your website (many services offer highly customizable widgets), or even do something as simple as adding a note in your emails. These are only a few suggestions but they’ll set you on the right track to cultivating a brand image that welcomes customer feedback, both praise, and complaints. Try not to prove to your customer that their feedback is wrong.

One thing you need to remember is that as much as you try to play the devil’s advocate and put yourself in the customer’s shoes, chances are you won’t always see things the same way your client does. Social media and community managers spend so much time on networks as brands that they run the risk of becoming desensitized to their own strategies and stop thinking like a customer. Make it a habit to follow other brands, interact as a consumer, and see what you enjoy or dislike about their approaches.

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Stephanie Nour is Community Manager at Wamda. She graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Before joining Wamda, Stephanie was Community Supervisor and Content Provider at converged communication media platform Telephone.com. She's an avid reader, a big fan of music, and loves discovering startups and testing new apps and platforms. Connect with her on Twitter @stephanienour,Google+LinkedIn, or by email at stephanie[at]wamda.com

 
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