In today’s technological climate, using social media is no longer an option. It’s a must. But before you run off and start tweeting about fluffy cats and dancing babies (people LOVE fluffy cats and dancing babies), save yourself and your company some unnecessary strife by reading through the following tips I’ve helpfully compiled for you.
1. DON’T spell words incorrectly or use poor grammar/text speak.
Punctuation, spelling and grammar matter. Spend a few extra minutes proofreading your work, using the handy dandy spell check tool on your computer, or even asking a coworker to look over your content before publishing.
Imagine reading this tweet from a company you’re considering for your business needs:
“Buy 1 complete integrated marketing packege and get the 2nd won half off!”
Would you want to use this company to handle your marketing? I don’t know if I would.
OK, look, I get it. On Twitter, you only have 140 characters to work with, so sometimes you’ll be forced to truncate words or use emoticons or do whatever else is necessary to get your message out there – but be smart about it! You are a professional, and presumably an adult, so maybe try cutting a few words from your tweet and spelling everything the correct way. Also, don’t forget that you are representing your company or brand. Your writing skills reflect on the organization as a whole.
2. DON’T post and run.
The people following you on social media are doing so for a reason. Either they’re being bribed (unlikely) or they actually want to hear from you! So when you post a huge announcement, like the upcoming release of your new novel titled Fuzzy Cats and Dancing Babies: Part III, stick around for a little while. Your fans want to know about the book, and they’ll likely have lots of questions for you.
Likewise, if your brand is receiving some negative press in the media (maybe your previous book, Fuzzy Cats and Dancing Babies: Part II, sold out in minutes and can’t be found anywhere), make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your social media accounts. Your followers will probably be pressing you for information, and you should be around to provide it.
However, make sure you:
3. DON’T post without thinking/asking/researching.
This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many brands post incorrect information through their own social media accounts. It is definitely important to be timely (and such is the nature of social media), but not at the expense of accuracy. In the imaginary hypothetical boxing match between Accuracy and Timeliness, Accuracy wins every round.
Make sure you have all the correct information before firing off responses to your fans and followers. If you’re going to be at the Barnes & Noble in Honolulu signing copies of Fuzzy Cats and Dancing Babies Part III on May 1, please take me with you you probably don’t want to tell your fans you’ll be there May 2.
4. DON’T use social media to troubleshoot your customers’ problems.
This issue can be pretty tricky. In some instances, brands use social media as a method of customer service and support. Sometimes it works really well, especially when the questions are simple and safe.
And everybody else that uses the internet can read this unfortunate interaction! It’s always a safe bet to take the conversation offline. Politely ask the unhappy customer to e-mail you, or provide a phone number for him/her to call. Try your very best not to escalate the situation right there on social media for everyone to see.
5. DON’T violate the rules, regulations or terms of service.
There are some pretty strict – and sometimes confusing – rules about how brands can or can’t use social media for marketing. For example, you can’t run contests on Facebook unless you use a third-party app. Did you know that? It’s surprising, considering how many companies out there are either completely unaware of this regulation or are conveniently choosing to ignore it.
I don’t know about you, but I lose a little bit of respect for a company or brand when I see them disregarding the rules of social media. And not only that, but Facebook, Twitter and other social media reserve the right to shut down your account if you violate their terms of service. That’d be pretty embarrassing, wouldn’t it? Probably even more embarrassing than having an entire book series about felines and infants.
Bottom line: social media provides a ton of advantages for brands, but the instant and direct nature of the B2C interaction can sometimes spell trouble. Don’t forget that you are representing your brand, and missteps on social media can affect your entire organization. Avoid the mistakes listed above, though, and you should be off to a great start!
Feel free to add your own in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!