Social Media

8 Social Media Mistakes That Are Killing Your Brand

8 Social Media Mistakes That Are Killing Your Brand
Image credit: Hot Grill | Flickr

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Social media has great potential for businesses looking to increase their reach, traffic and leads. But when it’s not used properly, it can actually damage your brand’s reputation.

This article will walk you through eight social media marketing mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

1. Not properly vetting and supervising your social media managers

Your social media managers are the face of your company online. With social media now driving almost a third of all referral traffic, it’s absolutely critical that those responsible for driving these referrals are up to the task.

While mistakes can’t always be avoided, we’ve seen too many examples of inexperienced, untrained or poorly supervised employees getting free reign of the company’s social media accounts.

Related: How to Leverage Google+ and Pinterest Search

Take the American Apparel debacle, for example. In celebration of the Fourth of July, the company posted a photo of the Challenger space shuttle exploding in midair. Apparently the social media manager was born after the 1986 disaster and mistook the explosion for clouds or fireworks. This could easily have been avoided had there even been one extra level of redundancy in place.

2. Not responding appropriately to negative feedback

Negative feedback is going to happen. You can choose to ignore it, fight back or take it in stride. How you respond says a lot about your brand.

Some brands operate under the assumption that they can simply delete negative comments without repercussions. Others believe that ignoring negative or inflammatory comments is the way to go.

Rather than avoiding, why not use these situations as opportunities to shine? Respond thoughtfully and promptly to negative comments, and use them as opportunities to showcase your commitment to customer service.

3. Buying likes or followers

Buying fans or followers is risky business. Some brands still believe that padding their numbers by paying for fictitious fans is a harmless endeavor. But did you know that buying Facebook fans can actually hurt your brand by decreasing your overall reach?

Fake fans will never interact or engage with your page, signaling to Facebook that your content isn’t interesting or valuable to your audience. This leads to an overall algorithmic decrease in your post reach and visibility. You could also find your account being closed, banned or deleted should Facebook find out about your schemes.

It’s far better to focus on attracting real, interested fans who will engage with your posts.

4. Being a one-trick pony

Posting the same types of content again and again can convey the impression that your brand is boring, uncreative or just not in tune with your audience. Instead of posting link after link or quote after quote, change things up by posting a wide variety of content.

When you get hung up on posting the same types of content again and again, your followers will become less engaged and are more apt to think you simply don’t care about posting engaging content.

5. Promoting your products … constantly

There’s a time and place for promoting your business or products, even on social media. However, too many brands are still using social media as a channel for pushing their marketing message.

Social selling is all about building relationships and trust that will ultimately lead to sales. Don’t abuse the platform by using it as billboard or commercial. The 80/20 principle is a good rule of thumb: post engaging, high-value content 80 percent of the time and promote your products no more than 20 percent of the time. Better yet, think about how you can move your social media fans and followers into your online marketing funnel -- then you never have to directly promote on social media.

Related: 10 Ways to Grow a Huge Following on Twitter

6. Being inconsistent in use and messaging

Do you have a schedule for when and how often you post? Do you have a consistent voice that you use across all your social media profiles? Do your profile and cover photos convey what are you brand is about? How do you respond to negative feedback or criticism?

The best way to be consistent in your social media marketing is to have a strategy in place. This will include, among other elements, guidance about how and when you’ll use social media:

  • Guidelines for how to respond to negative comments
  • A frequently asked questions document that various team members can refer to. This will help ensure consistency in messaging.
  • A repository of brand-related images staff can use for profile photos, cover photos, etc.
  • A posting schedule for each social media channel

7. Offering canned responses

Having a social media plan in place will help you to respond to questions and comments in a consistent manner. But the "cut and paste" method of responding to comments -- particularly to criticisms -- can lead to some pretty significant backlash.

In 2013, Kmart was heavily criticized for using this strategy to respond to criticisms about their holiday hours and staffing policies. Using a handful of generic responses didn’t go over well.

While having prepared responses in place for commonly asked questions can certainly save you some time, use them with caution. Keep in mind that criticisms, negative feedback and specific questions should generally be met with thoughtful, personalized responses.

8. Spreading yourself too thin

Just because a social networking site exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. Spreading yourself thin by committing to too many networks can mean you’re not using any of them effectively.

Instead of spreading your valuable time and resources between eight sites, consider choosing the top five, three or even two sites that are the best match for your target market. It’s better to fully commit to a regular posting schedule on a few networks than letting many lie dormant.

Final thoughts

Avoiding these mistakes all comes down to ensuring your team is properly trained, using your resources wisely and responding to your fans and followers in a professional manner. When it comes down to it, treating your social media followers the same way you’d treat in-store customers or clients will help you avoid the worst of these mistakes.

For direction on how to correctly run a social media campaign, check out my ebook, The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.

Related: 5 Social-Media Hacks to Boost Your Brand Starting Right Now