Social faux pas turn people off businesses

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When your company embarks on the exciting journey through social media, do not make some of the common and potentially very costly errors that have been perpetrated by others. Read below, and steer clear…

Don’t be a robot

 One Joe Pulizzi, a marketing consultant and therefore a B2B supplier who should have known better, boosted his Twitter presence artificially by using the TweetDeck app to robotically send a standard greeting to every new follower. But in his own, honest words, “a couple people replied right away to say, Joe, this is lame, it’s basically spam,” He vowed to take the time in future to respond individually in person – and that’s good advice to all.

Social Media Training

When bad things happen

Applebee’s restaurant chain got terrible feedback when they fired a waitress who posted a photo on Reddit of a negative comment written by a customer on a bill, criticising their tipping policy. It showed up the naivety of management and gave a lot of support to the belief that having a professional digital agency working with you is essential to help you navigate a rough patch. Applebee’s suddenly found themselves with 20,000 comments on their Facebook wall, mostly negative – they panicked and took it down. That only made the tide of negativity worse. Among other moves, a petition was started to get the girl her job back.

 Of course, some critics are just nasty trolls, and it is usually best to retain a dignified silence in the face of their carping. But if someone has a genuine grievance, it is a good idea to deal with that person one-to-one via email or phone, to show your human face and try to find a resolution that will turn the situation around.

Social Media Mistakes

It’s not as easy as A-B-C…

‘Always Be Closing’ was what we were all told in marketing lessons. Well maybe, if you are writing a web page or PPC ad, but not in social networks. It’s bad form on the same bottom-feeding level as SHOUTING in capitals. Woo people by being helpful, informative and fun to know – they’ll come in their own good time.

 It’s acceptable to work your company into the conversation – but don’t harp on about yourself, again and again. Be even-handed and generous in your sharing of industry sector news, other interesting posts and articles, and visuals – it’s all about keeping them wanting more from you.

The personal touch

 It is tempting to play it safe and insist that everyone in your operation speaks as one, in the same style, with the selfsame script. How dull is that? Would you want to follow it? Yes, of course you want to avoid expensive mistakes (see below) but it is desirable to have your team trained in the right approaches, and then encouraged and briefed on how to project in a human, humane way that will generate real engagement among your target audience, without embarrassing the company.

 A Symantec survey back in 2011 found that even then, there were very serious and expensive consequences being suffered by 94% of American corporations due to employees’ social gaffes, averaging an amazing $4m impact per firm per annum.

The three worst faux pas were of these kinds:

    1. sharing too much information in public forums (46%)
    2. loss or exposure of confidential information (41%)
    3. exposing the company to litigation (37%)

The measurable negative results included:

      • reduced stock price (average $1,038,401)
      • litigation costs (average $650,361)
      • direct financial costs (average $641,993)
      • damaged reputation/loss of customer trust (average $638,496)
      • lost revenue (average $619,360)

Understandably, the report’s authors recommend training for customer-facing employees, and the establishment of a coherent social media strategy. We at London’s Hannon Digital echo those recommendations, and can supply the required services to British companies and organisations.