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5 Big Business Social Media Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Bryan Wang

You undoubtedly know that using social media for marketing purposes is a really good idea. Social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter have millions of fans and chances are that your customers and those who you would like to be your customers are already on these sites.

However before you hire that marketing pro and open your corporate Pinterest account you should take note of the social media risks to a big business using social media for marketing purposes.

Below we outline the top 5 social media pitfalls to avoid with your social media marketing efforts;

1)   Don’t ignore your brand –

Small businesses have yet to establish their brand and tell their business’s story to the world when they start their social media marketing efforts. With a large business the opposite is true. Consumers already have an idea of who you are and are familiar with your brand story. This is great! But it also means you have to be careful when interacting on social media. Had a controversy in the past? Make sure your social media manager knows about it and doesn’t tweet about a related topic. Known for your great, image –centric website? Then make sure you get on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest to share images and photographs stat. Not doing so could make you look like a rookie. Also if you are known and loved for a particular chapter in your brand story, highlight that on social media sites to get more likes and followers. Arby’s noticed that the hat worn by singer Pharrell was similar to the one on their logo and tweeted to him asking for their hat back with great success. They knew their hat logo was well known and linked this to the popularity of a well known singer’s fashion choice on social media. Also be careful to not waste past goodwill garnered by traditional marketing channels by a sub-par social media campaign. Make sure to keep a consistent standard of excellent communications with your social media efforts like you did with your previous branding efforts.

2)   Don’t offer one-size-fits-all content –

When you advertise on television or radio you are reaching a wide, homogenous audience and have to provide content targeted to maybe one demographic or to everyone. Social media can be very different.  There are active communities of consumers on social media sites like Yelp and through Facebook groups. They can be an online community of ‘mommy bloggers’ or ardent supporters of locally grown produce. Firstly find out if any particular online community are already fans of yours or interested in your product or service or a subject related to your product or service. Then interact with them and provide them with information and latest developments and related subjects. Next find out which communities are potential customers. For example if you make women’s handbags find out who the best fashion bloggers, Youtube reviewers and Instagram gurus are and then target them with content or even give-aways.  Gift cards are a great give away as they allow you to publicize your brand and are easy to give to online reviewers. To put it simply you have find the ‘social influencers’ who speak to your product or service and brand.  Basically identify the social media personalities that have a lot of credibility with your target audience, have large, relevant followings and are the sources which your target customers go to for advice, reviews and help in making their purchasing decisions. There are services which can help you identify social media influencers for your particular target audience. Loyalty programs, such as the ones offered by Givex, are a great way to build customer profiles which in turn will tell you who to target online.  In general do not put out content aimed at everybody on a particular social media site. Instead find who your target audiences and influencers are and provide tailored content. Today’s well-researched, hyper-informed and empowered consumers will be able to tell advertising jargon lazily aimed at anyone apart from tailored, thoughtful and relevant content designed specifically for them.

3)    Be sensitive to timely events and topics –

It might be easy – and dangerous - to auto-program your tweets and other content through programs like Buffer and HootSuite. If a sensitive topic arises out of a tragic world or national event your pre-scheduled content may seem insensitive or even worse may accidentally mock the event. If this happens it contributes to the notion that big corporations are faceless, uncaring entities. Also do not try and advertise your products or service on the back of a tragic event or natural disaster – this may seem obvious but other corporations have fumbled at this. When in doubt big brands should err on the side of sensitivity or say nothing at all. Attempts at humour around tragic events are more likely to create offense and alienate customers.

4)   Don’t ignore mistakes –

Mistakes happen and they might happen to you via your social media accounts. If you accidentally send out an offensive tweet or your social media manager sends out an offensive personal tweet from the corporate account by mistake – do not ignore these problems.  Ignoring social media snafus makes you look insensitive. If you promptly apologize or explain yourself chances are that consumers will be placated and will move on to next social media mistake made by someone else.

5)   Don’t open a social media account without understanding the medium –

You hear that there is a popular and fashionable social media site on the rise. Your first instinct may be to hurry and open a corporate account on it, but wait. It is important to understand the audience attracted to that site, how that site works and when and why you should post. Not knowing these things can lead to embarrassing and very public social media mistakes which will definitely get your brand ridiculed online. Michael Kors were the first brand to release an ad on Instagram.  The ad received backlash from users who did not like seeing ads on Instagram but also garnered the fashion label big publicity with them gaining 34,000 new followers. Michael Kors knew both the positives and negatives of posting on Instagram and their familiarity with this social media platform ultimately helped them.  It is vital to have a social media professional on your team who understands the latest social media trends and developments and can guide you through this landscape. Hiring such an individual will help you avoid damage to your brand and brand story. Also remember to ensure that each account you open on a new social media platform is properly supported with regular posts with relevant content. An unused account is like a store with un-stocked shelves. An account with sparse posts or one where customers have tried to reach you but received no response will cause more harm than good.

These were some social media pitfalls to avoid specifically if you are a big business. Remember to use your social media presence wisely not hastily and you will surely succeed in your social media marketing efforts!

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