Social media: look before you leap

Bill's_Bungy_Jump

Social media puts your message in front of your audience instantly. With millions of active users and real time engagement, social is a great tool to distribute, engage and communicate.

But it comes at a cost.

If updates are misconstrued or perceived to be negative, you have very little control over the knock-on effects. There have already been some laughable social media fails which have gone viral for all the wrong reasons.

In this post we cover how you can mitigate this risk and ensure your audience get the most out of social media to make it work for you.

The common blunders

Every company’s social media account is in the public eye, it’s one of the first places people will go to investigate you as an individual and as a corporate brand, and first impressions here are everything. From your profile to your posts, new visitors will investigate your social media footprint.

These are some common mistakes on social media that are easily avoidable:

  • Hashtag fails: using the wrong hashtag can be a mistake, but jumping on trends without context will confuse or even offend other social media users.
  • Broken links: we’re all guilty of this one, but getting a 404 after clicking on a link on social media is incredibly annoying. Sometimes when scheduling a post, a space gets left out between the link and the text surrounding it which will break the link, so watch out.
  • Competitor content: this seem like a no brainer, but it happens all the time. Promoting competitors content positions them as thought leaders, not you – so go lightly on the retweets or shares.
  • Poor profile: sounds simple. Make your profile killer with a top quality image, header and description.

All of these negatives aside, social media is still a fantastic place for your company (and your team) to make connections and identify prospects.

Plan, process, professionalism

Social media works most effectively when there is a detailed process followed meticulously behind the scenes. The process should document responsibilities for scheduled content, responses to conversations and ensure that all content is proofread before it is shared.

Individuals understandably want control over their own accounts. By giving the right social media training and process your team can start to make social work for them. This also gives you the chance to effectively communicate the business’s social media expectations.

After all, if they’re tweeting or sharing from their personal accounts, they’re still representing your company.

Un-Automate

Don’t get me wrong I love automation, heck I’m a lazy millennial. To truly engage we need to step away from automation. This puts the power back in your hands to have conversations and build relationships with people that matter, automated trash will move away from that.

With automation you can schedule posts weeks or even months in advanced. This can be incredibly dangerous as content may not be appropriate or relevant then and could end up offending people. Some large organisations have seen the effects of this with Tesco tweeting about hitting the hay in the middle of the horsemeat scandal.

Even outside of social media automation fails happen daily, this email from Ryanair was put live after the referendum result which was clearly hoping for a different result!

RyanAirFail

Automation is incredibly handy, but scheduled messages need to be checked before they go live. A documented social media process will also prevent such mistakes happening to you.

Audience research

I may be the first person you’ve heard say this, but social media isn’t for everyone, and to keep all the plates spinning takes a lot of time and effort for any marketing team.

Focus your attention on the platforms that bring you the most reward and research how to be as effective as possible through these channels. This can be one or two key social networks to start with, and if you need to expand to other social networks you can.

Think about where your audience are most active, how easy the implementation will be and what sort of content and engagement you need. This will lead on to key digital metrics within social media to measure ongoing to prove success.

Social media is a great place for you and your team to spend time. With the right research, strategy and processes in place you will build the foundations of a clean social footprint and ultimately make the right first impression as well as deliver the results you’re looking for.

Have you had any interactions with companies you’ve been impressed by? I’d love to hear from you.

You can tweet Jason @jj_stockwell or connect with him on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published on the Modern Blog: Look before you leap on social media and is reprinted with permission.

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