Social Media is a wonderful channel for businesses to engage with their target customer. When brands use social media well for their professional services business, the results can be amazing. Your company's brand can increase loyalty, advocacy, word-of-mouth and trust with your customers, helping you to increase your sales.
However, sometimes things go wrong, horribly wrong and can have a tremendous negative impact on your brand. I have worked with many businesses over the years. I've found that if you use social media the wrong way it can destroy your business very quickly. Whether or not these are the worst offenses of using social media or not, there are some lessons to learn here. Here is a quick outline of the top 8 things on social that you can do to destroy your business:
1. Taking advantage of Human Tragedy
Current events are great and an easy topic to talk about. But there comes a time when too much discussion about it is a bad thing. Be careful about going overboard and what you share. In 2013 GAP.com was using twitter and tweeted “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?” Let’s just say the public didn’t care for what they said and got a host of negative comments from it.
2. Blending Personal and Business
When you are using social for personal and for business, keep those accounts separate and always double check which one you are posting to. It’s easy to get them mixed up. Take for example, KitchenAid who sent out a very unflattering comment about President Obama’s grandmother during the political debates of 2012. This caused a flood of negative publicity and took KitchenAid, as a brand, a while to recover from the mistake.
3. Shameless Self-Promotion
By far this is one of the most common mistakes in social media today. It is one of the worst uses of social media also. Don’t use social as a sales page! People want to socialize, network and share common interests and learn from you. Your potential customers don’t logon thinking “Oh I wonder what I can spend my money on today?” No, they go to learn and interact with you and other brands. Shamelessly pushing your brand on potential customers just turns them away.
4. Spread the Negative
Don’t spread negative things about people or other businesses online. Starbucks got caught up in this when they tweeted about #spreadthecheer. The twitter feed was highjacked and negative stories and political rants were out of control for some time. Be positive, helpful, educating your customers and share relevant information to your customers.
5. Bad Strategy
Think before you post online! Is this in line with your current marketing strategy? JP Morgan attempted a Twitter chat that blew up before it even started. They had the idea to host a twitter chat just after the bank announced a settlement with the Federal Government to pay billions in fines. Transparency is a good thing, but you have to make sure that is the right place and right time before opening that door. In this case JP Morgan under estimated the negative sentiment toward their brand at that time and potential ramifications through social media.
6. Building Trust with Customers
- Creating Fake Accounts
On a personal scale, people can create fake user accounts and do so to try and stay anonymous on the web. This is something that you don’t ever want to do for your business. Creating fake accounts for your business and promoting yourself online will catch up to you and only shows your customers that you are self-serving.
- Nothing Dies on the Web
With social media today, nothing ever really seems to die! Once you post something online in social media it can take on a life of its own. Because about what you post online, it can resurface at any time online even after you have taken it down.
- Don’t take advantage of other people’s tragedy.
- Be genuine about who you are and who your company is.
- Build trust with your customers through education and interaction.
- Don’t shamelessly promote yourself, don’t forget the “cocktail party rule”.