Making mistakes isn’t necessarily a bad thing. First off, you always learn more from a ‘not-so-great’ moment. In fact, chances are that if you’ve ever made a mistake you’re highly unlikely to repeat it. Second, you don’t have to make your own mistake to learn from what you should or shouldn’t do. You can learn from other peoples’ mistakes. Looking at mishaps that others have made can teach you what pitfall to avoid and how to circumvent similar situations.
Social media has put a spotlight on mistakes and them available for the entire world to see. When those trip-ups come from recognizable companies and big brands they seem to become glaring examples that the rest of us need to learn from. Here’s a run down on social media mishaps that your company should refrain from making:
The Internet is a gigantic growing web of information and if you’re not regularly contributing to it then you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with interested people. It’s important to post fresh and original content on a regular basis. Without it, your fans and followers may wonder where you’ve disappeared to and venture off to graze in greener pastures. The trick with content is to understand how much or how little you should post. Take the time to learn about what your audience wants and then get ready to update, share and engage.
A major no-no is meshing professional and personal social media accounts with one another. Keep the highlights of your Las Vegas weekend between you and your friends, not you and your clients. If you’re considering social media to promote your business brand make sure to create separate profiles on each platform.
Awhile back some hackers cracked into Amazon.com and caused all books written by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) authors to disappear. Needless to say, many people were infuriated and they took to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to voice their frustration and upset. This included creating a hashtag on Twitter that was used to funnel the disgust directed toward Amazon. Because Amazon hadn’t reacted quickly enough people believed that they deliberately removed GLBT materials from their site. Lesson learned – make sure to monitor what’s being said about your brand and company routinely.
Each social media site has a unique following. Getting to know and understand who the audience is and what they like is what will help you shape your social media strategy. A cookie cutter approach is not the way to go. What works on Digg probably won’t work on StumbleUpon and what works on Reddit won’t necessarily work on Mixx. Tailor your strategy to each platform before you implement.
One of the more recent social media firestorms occurred between Nestle and Greenpeace in early 2010 on their Facebook Pages. Supporters of Greenpeace staged a protest against Nestle for using palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. Unfortunately, Nestle’s social media team demonstrated a lack of tact, maturity and professionalism by posting glib and sarcastic remarks. The defensive exchange spun out of control. Whomever you choose to serve as the social media mouthpiece for your company should be a trained professional that recognizes the one of the golden rules – you don’t insult your customers.
In September 2009, restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday’s launched its ‘Woody’ social media marketing campaign. They used a supposed out-of-work actor who claimed that he was the biggest TGI Friday fan and that if he could get 500,00 people to fan his Facebook Page then T.G.I. Friday would give away a free burger to each person who fanned him. What people didn’t know was that Woody wasn’t a real person and that the challenge wasn’t an actual cause. People felt betrayed and outraged when they learned the truth. On this same note, don’t run out and attempt to acquire fans in mass. It appears spammy and fake. Take time to get to know your followers and cultivate relationships with them that will be long lasting.