6 Social Media Mistakes Your Company Should Avoid

Sarah Hartshorn
Sarah Hartshorn Owner, MindSprout Marketing

Posted on July 12th 2010


 6 Social Media Mistakes Your Company Should Avoid

social media mistakes company avoid 6 Social Media Mistakes Your Company Should Avoid

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:

1. Stale Content

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.

2. Combining Business And Personal Accounts

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.

3. Little To No Monitoring

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.

4. Cloning Strategies

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.

5. Inexperienced Representatives

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.

social media mistake nestle greenpeace facebook 6 Social Media Mistakes Your Company Should Avoid

6. Illegitimate Friending

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.

Do you have any other corporate social media mistakes or stories that you’d like to share? Post below. We’d love to hear from you.

Comments

It's crazy to me to think that social media has become such a problem to IT departments that they are now spying on their own employees. Why not have a system in place that blocks certain harmful parts of social media and have some beneficial parts accessible to employees? Then IT wouldn’t have to worry about what is going on with an employee’s social media activity and could focus on something productive. There a few whitepapers created by Palo Alto Networks, they might have a solution to this growing problem. Check it out: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp as well as a whitepaper on managing and securing facebook: http://bit.ly/brno0T

The GreenPeace-Nestle example is a good lesson for any business to pay close attention to. Proactively addressing any situation that may come up is the best policy. Better Nestle had addressed the palm oil problem with genuine concern about the implications of their actions. Consumers want to know that the companies they deal with actually have a conscience and care what their customers think and feel. As a representative for companies managing their reputation is a huge part of what I will do. Monitoring conversations and taking swift action to address concerns is vital.

I'm not quite clear how the screen shot of the exchange in #5 relates to Greenpeace. Though the conversation was sarcastic and belligerent on both sides, the Nestle people had a point about not altering their  logo.

Love this article with real-life examples. I would like to add what I could be part 2 of Mistake #3, little or no monitoring: Not responding quickly enough to negative comments and customer complaints. I found a company that had not been monitoring its Facebook page for a while, and saw that a woman had posted a bad experience she had with a couple employees with the company, on the wall of its fan page. She posted a link to her blog, and proceeded to describe this bad experience, and said she would never do business with this company again. The blog had a share bar, and lots of other comments posted in response to her story. Imagine how quickly this stuff spreads throughout the Internet!

The longer something sits out there for everyone to see that nobody from the company is acknowledging and responding to a complaint, the harder it will be for that company to re-establish credibility. Social media takes commitment, not only on the "talking" side, but the "listening" side as well.

Thanks for a thought-provoking article.

Great tips, but I'd like to add one more or elaborate on the "stale content" comment. One of the most unique things about social media is the ability to have two-way conversations with your fans. That being said, I think adding "Not engaging with your fans" to this list would be appropriate. At Bulbstorm, we created a Facebook application that engages fans by asking them for their ideas. Check out more here in a recent blog post: http://www.bulbstorm.com/blog/2010/5-reasons-fan-ideas-are-the-key-to-so...

You wrote

"some hackers cracked into Amazon.com and caused all books written by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) authors to disappear"

 

Absolutely untrue.  Amazon itself said this "glitch" was the result of an "internal cataloguing error" - it was an internal screwup by the company, not the result of meddling by unauthorized outsiders.