Social media sites have become a powerful way to market your brand, but by now everyone should know that they present pitfalls as well.
Companies end up apologizing over ill-advised tweets. Individuals create controversy with Facebook posts they no doubt thought were innocuous.
That’s not good, especially when so many of these missteps seem to be things that could have been avoided with just a little forethought. Yet despite all the warnings and cautionary tales that circulate, the faux pas continue.
To help you avoid some of the more common mistakes that businesses and individuals make with their social media accounts, I asked EMSI’s savvy social media team to chime in.
They wasted little time helping compile a list. (I think they easily could have come up with a dozen more, but these should give you a good start on what not to do.)
- Treating every platform the same. Social media sites are different and you need to approach them differently. One obvious example is that there’s a character limit on Twitter so those messages need to get quickly to the point. Facebook doesn’t have such a limit, giving you room to expand. On the other hand, Facebook sometimes artificially conceals content, especially if you post too much, and as a result everyone won’t see it. That doesn’t happen on Twitter. You need to consider the nuances of each platform.
- Posting too frequently – or not frequently enough. You want a happy balance here. Some people flood their followers with tweets or Facebook posts. It becomes too much of a good thing and your followers’ eyes glaze over as they scroll quickly past your latest post – perhaps thinking, “Oh, no! Not him or her again!” On the other hand, out of sight is out of mind. If you rarely post, then your followers forget about you – and that’s not good either.
- Failing to use hashtags. When you are on Twitter or Instagram, you are trying to become part of the conversation. The hashtag allows more people to see your contributions to that conversation. For example, if you were on Twitter and tweeted something without a hashtag, only your followers would see it. (Unless, of course, they re-tweeted it to their followers.) But if you use a hashtag, any number of people could end up being exposed to what you have to say.
- Using poor spelling or incorrect grammar. I don’t want to become the Punctuation Police here, but it’s important to project a professional image. Misspelled words and problems with subject/verb agreement create the opposite effect. That means you need to remember what Mrs. Schubert taught you back in your high school English class. If you are unsure about a word’s spelling or the grammar in a particular sentence, look it up. Your computer can help some here, but don’t let those computerized spelling and grammar checks become a crutch. They don’t catch everything and can even lead you astray. For example, they will skip right past it if you use “their” when you should have used “there.”
- Posting offensive or inappropriate material. You can quickly ruin years of goodwill if your social media sites are used to post something that many people might find offensive. That seems easy enough to avoid. But not necessarily. Sometimes it might not be clear to you that a particular post or tweet could strike people the wrong way, so be careful out there. Here’s an example of where the heart might have been in the right place, but the execution was less than ideal. Two years ago, Campbell Soup wanted to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day with a tweet. The tweet featured an image of one of the company’s broadly grinning SpaghettiOs holding an American flag. Many people responded critically, saying that the smiling cartoonish image was not the appropriate way to remember a day when more than 2,000 Americans died. Campbell took down the tweet and apologized.
Don’t be dismayed by all the potential for error here.
Social media sites still serve as a wonderful marketing tool despite the potential downside. It’s just a matter of managing them the right way so you can get the most out of them while avoiding the drawbacks.
That’s no mistake!
P.S. If you need professional help with your social media marketing, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215 or click here to get your Free Media Analysis.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.