Social media is probably the pillar of the 21st century. Social networks are indeed one of the most critical aspects of running an online business. They are the single most effective asset of reaching a particular target crowd and building a personal relationship with them. Primarily, social media has made the whole business world less awkward and clumsy. As is the case with any weapon, however, the mightier it is, the stronger it can backfire. Using social media for your business can have some negative consequences that you should keep in mind.
THE WHACK-A-MOLE PROBLEM
The world of computers and the internet has lulled all of us into wrongfully thinking that we’re entirely in control. Nevertheless, using the internet is not a video game; what happens online will not fade away quickly. Even if you delete a particular post, comment people can screenshot it and make things even worse for you. Nothing dies on social media; even if you manage to put a specific topic behind you, it can resurface at literally any point. You should come up with your posting etiquette, stand by whatever you might’ve said and been careful with your typed words; otherwise, the social media can quite literally ruin your business.
If you aren’t a native English speaker, you should damn well make sure that you’ve got a spellchecker on your speed dial – the social media community is very unforgiving when it comes to grammatical mistakes, and this can ruin your status as a reputable business. Unfortunately, this is not where grammar freakdom ends; it even extends to common typos and moments of inattention. It means that even a native English speaker needs to be careful when posting stuff. As an individual, you are held accountable for certain spelling mistakes, but as a business, you can immediately lose credibility.
As a business that is present on social media (as you pretty much have to be nowadays), you are opening yourself up to a world of opportunities. What you’re also opening yourself up to is a constant potential for public humiliation. If you’re running a business properly and are treating your leads and customers appropriately, you have nothing to fear; the lone rants made by intolerant people will get shut down quickly by your loyal customers. However, a business that isn’t widely known for its fantastic customer treatment can fall victim to social media in a wide variety of ways. Of course, is in no way a bad thing – at the very least, the online public showcase of your business should push you into awesomely treating your customers; but you do need to be wary of this aspect of social media in business.
Your public image is the single most important thing on social media, but even with typos and accidental, unfortunate posts, you can work on getting your image to its former shine. Coming off as a spammy company is a bottomless pit of social media despair that you aren’t very likely to climb out of at all. The human mind works interestingly, and the way people design their logos, the way they pick their colour schemes and choose their company names in particular – the entire goal is recognizability and attention-grabbing. If you start spamming your followers, they will associate your whole brand with the word SPAM, and you will find yourself in the pit as mentioned earlier in no time! You need to learn how to approach your audience. You need to be smart, and you need to be tactical.
Even in the era of social media, marketing is a complicated beast that takes time to conquer. In fact, this is especially so in the modern world of social media prominence. If you don’t have the time to dedicate yourself to this, make sure that you hire experts that specialise in complete media monitoring – someone who will take care of your content, community management and tracking the results.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A TRAGEDY
It might not be your intention, but you can quickly come off as ruthless, unfair and as if you were trying to piggy-back on someone else’s misery. Your posting about a particular tragedy should be done solely to raise awareness. Now that that’s out of the way let’s deal with actually looking like raising awareness is your only goal. For one, this might seem like absolute common sense but never post about a tragedy and anything else unrelated to it in a single post. Gap has learned this the hard way. No one would take advantage of a disaster in this way, not only because it is immoral, but also because it’s not useful. However, even if the unfortunate Gap situation was a typo or a mistake, it has backfired. Of course, posting about someone else’s misery and then posting about something utterly unrelated within the next hour can also make you look incredibly unprofessional and insensitive.
For instance, Facebook displays your business’s response rate on your very page. Simply put, no one likes to see “typically responds in [insert number] days”. You need to make sure that whoever is in charge of your community management (an expert that you may well need at some point) carefully keeps track of all notifications. The thing is, these messages can include everything from customer complaints that need addressing and customer praise that you should respond to, to random messages, stickers, gifs and everything in between that you probably shouldn’t ignore. In fact, even if someone begins the chat with the letter “P” and nothing else, you should check in with that particular follower to see if you can help them with anything; for the sake of your response rate, at the very least.
It is true; social media can ravage your business. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful tool that is irreplaceable. Make sure that you’ve come to terms with the fact that nothing ever dies online. Watch your grammar, be wary of public shaming, never take advantage of a tragedy, do not spam, and be responsive; be very sensitive. Guest Blogger: Diana Smith is a full-time mum of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and the latest business technology. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.