What’s worse: to not have a presence on social media or to have one that does more harm than good?
Neither is an option for businesses in 2011. You have to have a social media presence with a bare minimum of Twitter and Facebook. Your presence must be active. It doesn’t have to be super-strong or really large, but it has to be there and it must be maintained properly. Going without is a huge mistake. Doing it wrong can be even worse.
Assuming that you are able to start or continue your social media presence in 2011, here are some things to avoid if you don’t want to bum out your customers. For research, I selected the automotive industry – one that is exploding onto social media as fast as any. With explosions, there will always be those who make mistakes.
Abandon Your Profiles For Long Periods of Time
“Oh crap, has anyone updated Facebook since Gerald left?”
A variation of this question gets asked every day. People leave, people forget, people neglect. Work is, for many, a place where we stay busy and prioritize. Unfortunately, social media is not on the top of the “daily to do” list for many businesses and their employees.
Things happen and people visit your page all the time. You probably aren’t aware of how many people see your page on a daily basis. Do a search for your business name in Google. If you have a Facebook page, there’s a good chance it’s ranked on the first page. If it’s on the first page of Google and people are (hopefully) looking for your business by name, then they will go there.
Don’t embarrass yourself. Remember to update it. You check your email. Check your social media. It takes no time to put together 140 characters or to post information about an upcoming event. Those who are passionate about their particular social networks of choice will be instantly annoyed if they see that you abandoned your page or profile.
Repeat Yourself. I Repeat, Repeat Yourself.
Just because you say a different variation of the same thing 5 times in the same hour doesn’t mean you’ll get 5-times as many visitors. In fact, you’ll probably get fewer clicks and lose followers as a result.
Sometimes, this happens because there are accounts on other social sites being fed into Twitter or Facebook. Automation in social media can be a valuable tool if done right. Done wrong and it can send you into the “unfollow bin” for many of your customers.
Neglect to Remove Spam
The more popular your Facebook page becomes, the more diligent you must be at watching for spam. Marketers often use other Facebook pages to post their messages.
This does not mean that you should prevent people from posting on your wall. In most cases, positive and even negative feedback posted on your wall can be a good thing. Spam can never be good. In the example above, the clearly-spammy update was posted on a business wall over a week ago and still hasn’t been addressed.
Keep your profiles clean.
Use a Poorly Worded Automated Feed
Again, automation used properly is a good thing. Believing that anything about the above tweets is the right way to do it is silly.
First, the Twitterfeed service they are using is simultaneously posting to other businesses. That’s not so bad – not ideal but definitely not the end of the world.
Posting the URL before and after the body of the Tweet – bad, bad, bad. Does anyone really believe that people going to Twitter want to to see a neon-light flashing “I’m an automated feed spammer! I’m an automated feed spammer!” There is no branding benefit to posting a URL – if they want to find your website they will. On social media, brands are built actions, not repetitious exposure the way it is on other media sources. Just communicate. Don’t try to get sneaky.
Say Something to Nobody
We’ve already established in the past that social media super-accounts are often worthless. Even worse is having a mouse account. You know, those accounts that make a lot of noise but that do not have enough people listening to really have an audience – the mouse accounts.
There are various methods for growing your accounts to acceptable sizes that could (and should) cover an entire blog post. Learn them. Use them. While size may not make a difference with a customer’s annoyance level, it can be an embarrassment that makes your page seem worthless.
Sell First. Engage Never.
If your only reason for using social media is to get the search engine optimization benefit, you are probably blind to what social media can actually do. It’s like buying an iPhone and using it to hammer in nails – sure, it’ll get the job done, but you’re missing the real benefit and not unlocking its potential.
Your customers go to social media to learn, interact, and enjoy themselves. Nobody says, “Hmmm, I really need to buy a car. I’ll check Twitter to find links to vehicle pages.”
Talk to people. Bring value to the table. Social media for individuals is about “me.” For businesses, it has to start out being about “you” (the potential customer) and develop into being about “us” (you and your new customer relating through social media).
Get rid of the me-mentality and people will be much more interested in what you have to say on social media.
Include Apps That Don’t Do Anything
It happens to all of us. From Facebook to smartphones, PCs to tablets, apps are spreading like termites in a wood yard and we want them. All of them. We add the ones we think we might eventually use because we know if we don’t get them, the need will come up at the worst time.
The same thing goes for business Facebook pages. We often put too many apps on our pages and have difficulty getting exposure to the right ones. This isn’t a major pain – just a minor annoyance that will likely effect very few. However, having empty or broken apps can make people mad, particularly if the apps hang for a while only to yield nothing.
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There are many other things that can really bum your customers out, but most of them can be solved with 2 instructions: pay attention and talk to people. As long as you don’t forget about your social media and contribute to your customers’ and potential customers’ positive online experience, the benefits will emerge. People will like and respect you more for it. Some will turn into customers that otherwise you never would have earned.
In the end, being active and engaged without forcing a message can improve your marketing and sales infinitely more than spamming and generally being a bummer.