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Depending on how you use it, social media can either be a digital marketing darling — one that consistently cultivates brand sentiment and strong emotional connections among your customers — or a resource-draining wasteland, positioning your business as out of touch or, even worse, a pariah to be mocked or even avoided altogether.
Unfortunately, many new small businesses find themselves in the latter category, struggling to make those critical connections with social media users and avoid the social media fails that so often undermine your brand image and outreach strategy. Such self-inflicted wounds not only hurt your social media efforts; they can often do major reputational damage that dings brand integrity and revenue over the long run.
Here are seven of the biggest social media blunders that may be taking down your social media marketing strategy — and how to steer clear of those mistakes in the future.
1. Posting from the wrong perspective
Posting business updates from an individual’s point of view may seem harmless enough. But straying too far from your brand’s voice can create real audience disconnects that have lasting consequences for your brand, injecting a sense of personal feeling or bias that alienates users and ultimately undermines your messaging. And when social media managers veer too far off the beaten path, followers and qualified leads may lose faith and ditch your social channels for someone else.
No matter your brand or industry, keeping your social media strategy on track means maintaining a consistent brand voice throughout and ensuring your marketers are always posting from the company’s point of view and not their own.
Related: How to Form a Clear Voice and Tone for Your Brand
2. Seizing on the wrong trends
Latching onto the wrong trends is one of the faster ways to bump your social media management off the rails. Unfortunately, it’s also an all-too-common trend among social marketers and small businesses seeking a quick boost in visibility. It inevitably links brands to irrelevant memes or hashtags that leave followers and the public shaking their heads.
While every social media channel offers plenty of space to experiment and try something fresh, it’s important to understand what that latest trend is all about before doing anything rash. With each new platform, meme, hashtag or viral video that pops into the public eye, be sure to research that newest thing carefully — and before it results in brand catastrophe.
3. Jumping into the wrong conversations
Involving your brand in the wrong conversation is a serious but preventable social media blunder that generates significant public blowback with lasting repercussions for your business. That’s because joining social chatter and discussions that aren’t aligned with your message or your purpose doesn’t only position you as out of touch; it can also quickly transform your brand into a social media laughingstock, hurting brand integrity and customer relationships in the process.
While there are certainly cases where joining the conversation can reinforce and even bolster your messaging, it’s critical to do your homework before diving in. Conversations that align with your brand, customers and culture are great, but be absolutely sure they do before chiming in.
4. Using the news to promote your brand
Here and there, news stories and events come along that can credibly be thrown into the social media marketing mix and provide a solid opportunity for brand promotion. That said, it’s not uncommon for businesses to use those items inappropriately (also known as newsjacking), using world events in a way that doesn’t just scream poor taste, but actually runs counter to public sentiment. What seemed a good idea at the time quickly becomes a PR debacle that takes no shortage of time and money to overcome.
Newsjacking is a major social platform faux pas, but it’s also highly avoidable. Remembering that social media is about engagement first, and that shared content should always be genuine and on-brand can help set the guardrails needed to avoid news promotion piggybacking while keeping your marketing strategy on point.
Related: 5 Common Marketing Mistakes You Need to Look Out For
5. Avoiding news and events altogether
Just as inappropriate news-related promotion on social media can frame your brand as tone-deaf, so can ignoring news and events altogether. In fact, posting without paying attention to world events can backfire on your business big time, positioning your brand as uncaring, insensitive and ignorant of the issues that are top-of-mind among your customers. Customer sentiment, lead generation and even customer loyalty may take a hit as a result.
While it’s impossible to know everything, the social media experts and social marketers on your staff should have a good sense of what’s going on in the world and should at least consider major news events and updates before loading up the latest brand update.
6. Taking on negative comments
It may be tempting sometimes, but going one-on-one with negative comments and feedback on social media can boomerang fast, becoming a very public crisis that goes viral and spirals out of control. Whether as a stand-alone post or within the comments section, responding to bad feedback with a negative comment only makes matters worse.
Combative, eye-for-an-eye-type responses should never be your go-to on any social media platform. Instead, it’s best to have established rules for dealing with negative commentary, guidelines that keep the conversation constructive rather than letting things go off the rails. In cases where things are particularly corrosive, a direct message or even an offline response strategy may be the best approach.
7. Robot posting
Believe it or not, people flock to social media to make meaningful connections, and to interact with content that provides actual value, not the rigidly robotic posts many brands rely on just to meet recommended minimums on social activity. Engaging with customers one-on-one and demonstrating authenticity and empathy through personal interaction is key to avoiding the forced, formulaic approach many customers can recognize a mile away.