Social media marketing can be a global firm’s best friend — or worst enemy. By avoiding these 10 errors, large organizations will get the biggest benefit from their social media activities and avoid a costly downside.
10 Ways Big Firms Hurt Themselves Badly On Social Media
1. No Response
This is really the cardinal sin. A lack of response to questions and comments is a huge turnoff because it reinforces (or creates) the notion that a large organization is impersonal and uncaring. Lack of response can turn neutral or positive followers into brand antagonists who post negative reviews and social media comments that expend all the social media capital an organization has built.
2. Poor Response
A similar, but not quite as serious, issue is poor response to questions. What constitutes poor? Typically poor responses are vague, do not address the question, do not provide the correct answer, appear overly bureaucratic and/or overly defensive. Often, poor response issues are rooted in poor training, especially when day-to-day social media monitoring is delegated to entry-level personnel or outsourced.
3. Slow Response
Social media users tend to seek immediate gratification. If they ask a question or comment on an organization’s post, they may be quite disappointed if the response comes four hours later. Four days later: disaster. A slow response conveys aloofness and disorganization — two things no global company wants associated with its brand.
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4. Failing to Diversify Social Media Presence
Large organizations serve large, multiple audiences on social media. To communicate effectively, these organizations usually need a variety of social media accounts — for example, accounts for customer service, sales promotions, employees and company/industry news. In addition, global companies may require accounts with different languages and/or that serve different countries. Without diversification, communication invariably becomes muddled, confusing users and eventually causing them to tune out all messages.
5. Failing to Convey the Diverse Social Media Presence
Having a diverse social presence is step one, but unless various audiences are aware of it, the effort will be useless. A useful technique is to describe and link to the various social media accounts on the company website; this can also be done in the “About” sections of the social media platforms.
6. Poor Brand Monitoring
Social media users talk about large companies all the time, with and without hashtags or links to the company website and/or social media account. Large companies must monitor brand mentions carefully, to respond quickly to negative comments, thank people for positive comments and start the ball rolling for users interested in becoming a customer or a supplier. Positive performance in this area impresses social media users, and will generate many positive reviews and mentions.
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7. Poor Handoffs
Related to the previous issue, people monitoring the brand must have a process for handing off social media questions and comments to sales, customer service, purchasing and other departments that may need to step in and continue the conversation (on social media or via email or phone). Many sales leads, buying opportunities and other business opportunities fall through the cracks because the social media communication never got into the hands of the right people within the organization — or reached them too late.
8. No Glimpses Behind the Walls
Social media users love it when companies — especially the big ones — let them take a peek behind the walls. When social media communication includes informal photos of employees at work or at play, companies humanize their brand and turn many neutral followers into serious brand advocates. In addition, showing the human side has an enormous payoff by attracting talented job applicants.
9. No Disaster Plan
With vocal social media users and energetic journalists/citizen journalists, negative news about a company can spread like wildfire and cause long-lasting or even permanent damage to the brand. It is crucial for large organizations to have a solid response plan ready to go when disaster strikes. With a good plan, negative news sometimes can be turned into a positive.
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10. No Systematic Reviews
Perhaps the worst danger of all is to put social media on autopilot. Social media functionality, marketing best practices, user preferences and technology change rapidly. In addition, competitors embark on new strategies continually, which require study and, in many cases, a strategic response. Large organizations must assess their social media activities and the entire social terrain regularly and in great depth.
About the Author
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, Moz and American Marketing Association.