By Cathy Anderson
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse for business.
Whether you’re heading up a booming multinational corporation or a newly launched startup, you can’t afford to cross your fingers and hope for the best when it comes to your online presence.
SmartCompany has partnered with business.gov.au to look at some of the social media mistakes businesses make and how you can avoid them.
1. Going in without a plan
Gaynor Alder, director of social media specialists AIR CREATIVE, says it’s imperative for businesses to have a social media plan – but many don’t.
According to Alder there are three steps to an assured social approach.
* Have a clear objective – is it sales, leads, brand awareness, customer service, community building or thought leadership?
* Identify your target market – who are your customers and what social media platforms are they on?
* Decide what content you can produce – always play to your strengths.
Visit business.gov.au to access templates for social media plans, plus other helpful tools and resources.
2. Not assigning responsibility
Someone needs to be responsible for your social media strategy as well as for the content posted.
“Social media policies are essential for organisations to provide guidance to its employees on such things about what can and can’t be posted on social media,” says Alder.
3. Targeting the wrong people
If you don’t understand your audience on social media, you’re wasting your time – and marketing money.
“Knowing your customers is absolutely essential,” Alder says.
“It’s when your social media communities start sharing and talking about your content that you really start to reap the rewards.”
4. Ignoring your customers
It’s crucial to keep a close eye on your accounts. Unanswered questions can create frustration or leave you open to attacks on your products or brand.
Social media author and crisis expert Nicole Matejic says the key is how you leave the person feeling.
“If they feel heard and valued, that’s great. Good job. If they feel ignored or disrespected, you need to work on your customer experience acumen.”
5. Not answering reviews
Another trap is the old ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ scenario, particularly regarding reviews.
Melinda Stewart, managing director of HyperSocial, says businesses need to respond to all positive and negative reviews left on their pages – but not every comment.
“When it comes to reviews you’re usually not answering for that one person who wrote it – you’re usually answering it for the (possibly) thousands of other people who will read the review and response in the future,” she says.
6. Scheduling and forgetting
Scheduling social media posts is a great time-saving strategy, but always check to ensure they are still relevant before they go live. There have been occasions where events have conspired to either derail scheduled posts, or make them read as grossly inappropriate.
If you do make an error, Stewart says that removing an inappropriate post can be OK in some circumstances, but you must “acknowledge that it happened, and then swiftly move into crisis management mode”.
7. Posting inappropriate content
Everything you put on social media represents your brand. With so much content out there, the danger of sharing something your audience thinks is inappropriate is very real.
If you do post something controversial and it starts to go viral, Matejic says not to panic.
“You can’t stop people from sharing and taking screen shots – you can control your response to the crisis,” she says.
“At the earliest opportunity, deal with it honestly and genuinely. Remove the offensive content. Admit your mistake. Apologise and mean it.”
The most important element to any social media posting is careful strategy and planning to ensure that your brand is getting the most out of this often rewarding, and arguably fickle, medium.
This article first appeared in the Partner Content section of SmartCompany’s website.