Sometimes, it’s pretty obvious where a social marketing campaign blew up. You can point to clear-cut, obvious errors the organization – or their so-called ‘social media guru’ – made. Fumbles that could have been avoided, and pitfalls that they shouldn’t have tripped into in the first place.
If you’re trying to establish a presence for your business on a social network – and you’re not looking to make all your potential customers hate you with a passion – there are a few pitfalls you’re going to want to avoid. Any of the mistakes on this list could very well deep-six an entire marketing campaign, and cause irreparable damage to your brand (though, admittedly, some might be more damaging than others).
This is something that a lot of people still don’t seem to understand. Behaving like a petulant, arrogant teenager doesn’t make you seem ‘edgy’ or ‘hip,’ it makes you seem like an ignorant putz. Don’t insult people over social networks, whether they’re competitors or potential customers. And most importantly, think before you speak – don’t try to use tragedies to hawk your wares, or crack jokes about mental illnesses just because someone said something you don’t like. This is the business world, not a grade-school playground. Act like it.
#2) Spam, Repetition, Spam, Repetition
If there’s one golden rule in social media, it’s this: Don’t spam your users.
Spam, of course, takes many forms. Maybe you’re spouting bland, uninteresting, or simply pointless garbage in your posts or tweets. Maybe you’re repeating yourself over, and over, and over, and over. Maybe you’re trying to sell something with every single post. Whatever you’re doing, if you end up spamming your users, the backlash will be almost immediate, and you’re going to have a lot of trouble repairing the damage you’ve done.
Also, while auto-posting and auto-tweeting software certainly has a place in social networks, it needs to be used sparingly. If you do nothing but schedule your posts, and ignore your feed, people are going to feel like they’re talking to a robot (more on that in a moment).
#3) Ignore, Dismiss, and Censor
If there’s one thing people on the Internet hate, it’s being censored, particularly on social networks, which are, at the end of the day, all about freedom of expression (even if that really just boils down to a play by play of what food a particular person happens to be eating). If someone raises a legitimate concern over a product, service, advertisement, or action of your organization, don’t try to avoid the issue – that’s akin to dropping a crate of dynamite in a bonfire. Instead, try to address the problem. Speak to them in a civil fashion, and try to figure out what their beef is. Sure, that might not work with everyone, and some people are just out to be insulting (if someone’s actively being abusive, feel free to pull out the ban-hammer), but here’s the thing: you’re supposed to be the professional here. If you simply dismiss, ignore, or censor every single nay-sayer, you look like the bad guy.
If you’re polite and civil to them, and they still respond with venom, guess who ends up with egg on their face?
#4) Abuse of Hashtags
This one relates specifically to Twitter. Don’t use hashtags that have no bearing or relevance to a tweet. You look like an idiot doing so, and it’s one of the worst kinds of spam. Hash-tags are meant to be used so that people can easily categorize and search out relevant tweets. Further, don’t jump on every single trending hash-tag you can see. If you don’t have anything meaningful to contribute to a topic, don’t talk about the topic. Simple, right?
Of course, you’ve also got to be careful when instituting a hashtag campaign, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions.
#5) Lack of Hashtags
That said, failing to utilize hash-tags in any way, shape, or form is a big mistake, as well. If you have something meaningful and relevant to contribute to a trending topic, then by all means, tweet away. Further, you should utilize hash-tags to promote your product and brand, but make sure they actually relate to that product and brand. I can’t really give you much advice on choosing meaningful hash-tags here (after all, part of your job as an advertiser is to come up with that content on your own), but one thing I can say is think about what users might type in when searching for a particular tweet, or how a user might use a hash-tag to promote your brand.
#6) Random Friendlisting:
I knew this guy, once. His name’s not really important – let’s call him Bob. Truthfully, Bob’s name is irrelevant, at the end of the day- what matters is how he behaved. See, Bob was a fairly awkward fellow. He also liked girls. Rather than meet them in person, however, he preferred to stalk the friend-lists of his friends on Facebook. Whenever he saw a lady who caught his fancy, he’d add them. It didn’t matter if they’d never spoken before in person. As a result, he quickly gained himself a reputation as a complete, utter creep.
Of course, you see where I’m going with this, right? While you certainly might not come across as creepy as Bob, adding random users to your friends or trying to message people who’ve nothing to do with your product or organization comes across as a little over the top, and most people don’t appreciate it.
#7) Buy a Friend
You should never, under ANY circumstances, try to buy friends or followers on a social network. People should flock your page or account naturally as a result of your campaigning. If they don’t, then no amount of money spent on friend-list padding is going to fix that, and most ‘bought’ followers are pretty much useless when it comes to actually promoting your brand. Instead, put the money towards figuring out what you’re doing wrong.
#8) Get Too Personal (Or too Professional)
This is a bit of a tricky one, since how professional or personal you need to be often depends entirely on the demographic you’re trying to market to. As a general rule, however, people don’t want to hear about how drunk you got on the weekend, or who you took home, or how you trashed your place. They don’t want all the deep, dark secrets of your personal life, and airing your dirty laundry online is a sure recipe for disaster. While you should certainly try to connect with your users, you should always keep at least a slight air of professionalism in everything you do.
Of course, being too professional could cause a disconnect with your customers, and you could end up being a boring, salesy marketing guy. Ultimately, you should aim for the perfect balance between professional and personable. Where that line lies depends entirely on the brand you represent, and it’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself.
Just keep one thing in mind: whether you’re too boring or too personal, you’ll look totally clueless, either way.
#9) Ignore the Terms of Service
This should be obvious. If you’re going to be planning a campaign on a social network, know the bloody rules. I’m sure you all remember the Whopper Sacrifice campaign we talked about some time ago, and what a colossal, unmitigated disaster that was. Simply put, the yutzes behind that massive flop understood neither Facebook nor the rules of playing in Facebook’s sandbox. Long story short, if you’re making a mistake as elementary as this, you probably should reconsider making a foray into social media.
#10) Failure to Interact
This, right here, is the biggest mistake you can make. Don’t ever lose your ‘voice.’ Users need to feel like there’s a real, thinking and feeling human being on the other end of the line. If you post and tweet like a sales robot, you’re not going to meet with much success. Don’t use corporate speak, and always make an effort to reach out to fans and consumers. It’s one of the most basic tenets of social media, and it seems to be one of the most common mistakes.