Drop it like a Bad Habit: 4 Awful Social Media Practices and How to Avoid Them
Stupid things happen regularly on social media. This is an indisputable fact and even as I’m typing this, a politician, a celebrity or a company probably just posted some insensitive/offensive/tone-deaf remarks and/or images on Twitter or Instagram that would lead to said post being taken down and the offending figure apologizing for said post. In-between, some insults and accusations will be lobbed at said figure from the public stating that said figure is now cancelled.
Truly, I believe that everyone has a love/hate relationship with social media. It brings out both the best and worst out of people and if you’re looking to get famous, or infamous, there’s just no place like social media. Daniel Wellington became a household name in under a decade partly thanks to their clever use of social media while Pepsi once make an enemy out of the entire population of Portugal by posting pictures of a doll of football star Ronaldo in distressing situations. Social media can make or break your company.
The double-edged sword of social media
Clearly though, even with the dangers inherent to a platform where literally everyone in the world can attack you verbally if they want to, the sheer popularity of social media makes it impossible for companies, small or gigantic, to not have a social media presence. As a marketing channel, social media is potentially the most valuable but it can also be the trickiest to navigate given the fickle nature of social media users.
This is also why in most companies, social media tend to have a dedicated team of handlers, separate from the marketing, sales and customer care division but usually works in conjunction with all three. For a small company, not having a dedicated social media handler might be understandable but any company of moderate size cannot simply dismiss the importance of social media by treating it as a second class citizen.
Still, even after hiring a dedicated social media manager for your business, social media is still very much a tricky landscape. And given the highly politicized and overly sensitive nature of the world right now, it’s actually quite possible for your social media handler to not realize they’ve made a mistake until it’s far too late. Really, the internet is littered with examples of covfefes and other social media gaffes that your company would do well to avoid, as explained in the following section.
Treating social media as a simple megaphone
I don’t know why but even in 2019, it’s still common for me to see companies using social media as a one-way communication avenue. I consider the ability to build a rapport with your customers and potential customers to be one of the main advantages of social media and it is wasted if you’re only going to use it as a megaphone. I personally consider the amount of interaction on social media to be a more reliable barometer than simple numbers such as followers and likes.
Make it a point to try and answer every question lobbed at you in the comments or DMs (direct messages). Talking to a wall isn’t fun and it’s important for your customers to know that there’s actually a living, breathing, typing person behind your social media posts. It’s also important for you to actually listen to the things being lobbed at you in social media, there are always constructive criticisms to be had in all corners of the internet.
Treating social media as a verbal diarrhea
You know that person from work who constantly shares their thoughts out loud. You know the kind, right? The one that’s loudly wondering what they’re going to have for lunch or what to do on the weekends or constantly sharing things about their life even though you have a bucketload of things you have to do for work and that you really, really need to concentrate. Oversharers are always annoying and trust me when I say you don’t want that to be your social media personality.
Post things regularly, but not excessively. I generally browse social media in the morning, during lunch and when I’m having my coffee break. Focus your efforts on those times of day when you know people are more likely to have some free time on their hands instead of constantly posting a bunch of random things around the clock. Also try not to retweet every positive mentions of your company and go easy on the hashtag when you’re on Instagram. Everything should always be in moderation.
Always aiming to be everywhere
This is important for small companies without a dedicated social media handler. There are a number of available social media platforms out there and you have to understand that you don’t necessarily have to be in every single one of them. Do some research on your target market and find out what platforms are the most popular among them and focus your resource on that platform. Each platform has to be treated differently and by not spreading yourself too thin, you can cater your strategy to take advantage of the most important platform.
A lack of awareness on your surroundings
The world doesn’t revolve around you. There are times when you arrive at a situation where you’ve prepared a certain post for this particular time of day only to find out that something big just happened that you simply can’t ignore. In times like these, always be prepared to pivot and acknowledge what’s happening around you. In fact, you can also use this to your advantage if you find an opportunity to insert yourself into the conversation as long as it’s appropriate.