Social media engages followers, attracts customers, and boosts brand awareness. No wonder so many businesses use it as part of their marketing strategy. Top online destinations such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube give entrepreneurs powerful tools and unlimited opportunities to build a strong brand and a customer-centered business.
One of the things you need to do in order to take your startup to the next level is increase your social media effort. Leveraging social media for business often sounds easy, but in practice, it takes time and requires certain skills. When young entrepreneurs start with their social media projects, they often make several common mistakes that can put the credibility of their companies on the line. Learn from the following expensive social media mistakes to avoid jeopardizing the reputation of your startup.
- POSTING BORING AND SPAMMY CONTENT
Social media marketing efforts often begin with aggressive advertising and repetitive content. However, if you bombard your users with sales pitches, they will flee from your social media profiles. Use your business website and other channels to pitch sales. On social media, you want people to feel comfortable, enjoy your content, and share it with others. That is precisely why you should pay attention to content marketing.
Fresh, valuable content keeps users coming back for more. Pages that lie dormant or repeatedly cycle through the same content do not engage visitors. Instead, users become aggravated and leave. As time passes, your social media profile earns a bad reputation that transfers to your company.
What can you do? First off, regard social media as an educational tool that can provide knowledge and information, as well as amusement. Post original content to your profile such as information that solves real life problems. Participate in the online community by posting links to articles, images, videos, and jokes that your audience will find interesting. Make everything you post educational, informative, and inspiring. For instance, the cookie company Oreo provides an excellent example of a corporate social media presence. The brand never pushes sales, but it routinely posts entertaining content that people enjoy while learning more about the brand.
- BEING TOO PASSIVE
Many startups make the mistake of taking a detached, sterile approach to their followers. Don’t repeat their mistake and come across as passive and distant – use social media to build relationships instead. Make sure to actively engage with your audience by taking a personal interest in everyone who visits and interacts with your content. That way, you encourage conversations that spread the news about your company and build brand awareness.
Don’t ignore people who talk about your brand and leave comments – always respond to your fans. Promote two-way communications that make your followers feel valued as people, not just as prospects and customers. Make things enjoyable by returning users’ likes, and sharing their posts. You can also organize contests and take surveys, so that people associate your brand with fun and creativity. Whatever you do, just remember to stay active and regularly post content.
- GIVING LOUSY CUSTOMER SERVICE
If you want to benefit from word-of-mouth referrals, your company will have to provide top-notch customer service. Startups that fail to realize the importance of customer service jeopardize their business – news travels fast, and angry customers´ comments and complaints can quickly go viral. Such situations, even when they stay low-key, may damage your reputation.
How to give great customer service on social media? The most important thing is to be quick and responsive. When customers make inquires and report problems, make sure to respond as fast as you can and effectively resolve their issues. Not only will you thus satisfy the customer in question, you will also show to other social media users how much your company cares for others.
Be nice and helpful even when angry customers make negative comments – people will judge your firm by the way you handle such situations. Regard those complaints as opportunities for improvement, apologize, and then provide prompt, courteous, and efficient resolutions. You will make your customers happy, and happy customers mean positive publicity.
- MAKING TASTELESS ASSOCIATIONS
American Apparel unintentionally crossed the line when it posted a photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster thinking it was a fireworks display. Epicurious showed insensitivity to the people of Boston when the company nonchalantly tweeted an offer for a breakfast bowl after the Bombing at the Boston Marathon. Learn from these examples, and don’t jeopardize your business by putting your lack of class and good judgment on display for the world to see.
Think before you post anything to social media. If you think some people might take offense at a joke, don’t post it. Inappropriate references and off-base remarks can generate massive publicity that can destroy your business. Always check your facts and do your research before you make any classless associations or references. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, make an apology, and correct it as quickly as possible.
- SOUNDING LIKE A ROBOT
This one will be short – use lively, animated speech on social media to avoid sounding like a robot. Show some personality because no one likes communicating with machines. People in your audience want to connect with a real person, so talk to them as if you are talking to a friend. Use emoticons, humor, and lightheartedness to create a friendly, approachable personality for your brand.
- USING LANGUAGE POORLY
Spelling errors, poor grammar, and improper syntax can cause your audience to doubt your competency, so build authority for your brand by displaying excellent language skills. The Boston Globe made a famously embarrassing blunder when they tweeted a typo in a news story. Rather than the word “investigated,” the tweet read “investifarted.” Typographical errors are sometimes funny, but they indicate sloppiness and a lack of professionalism. Always proofread your work to avoid careless mistakes.
If you make all these social media mistakes, you can damage the reputation of your startup and jeopardize your success. Although mistakes can sometimes sneak in, it’s up to you to try to rectify and learn from them.
What you should do to be successful on social media is provide fantastic content that engages users and spreads the word about your excellent new company. You should also interact with people in a friendly manner and provide excellent customer service. If you strategically employ such an approach, you will convert prospects into buyers and build a loyal following that will fuel the growth of your startup and advance your career.
As a freelance writer and copywriter, Natalie Smith enjoys writing about topics related to online marketing, entrepreneurship, social media, and business in general. She is reachable @Natalie Smith