15 Ways to Stop Failing at Social Media Marketing and Customer Support. On the one side, social channels are great for pushing content out to an opted-in audience; for promoting products and services; for sharing company milestones, news, and awards. Hasty Hashtagging. Make Social Media Somebody’s Top Priority If social media is nothing more than a side job for someone on your marketing team, you’re not going to get much value out of it. It takes dedicated effort over time to establish a strong presence, connect with relevant influencers, build a following, and learn what does and doesn’t work in your industry. Five Tips for Improving Social Media Customer Service 1. Customers who want to provide feedback or complain publicly about you are going to do it, whether you’re savvy at social media or not, whether you’re engaged and listening or not. Watch Trends in Complaints Don’t think of social media customer service issues as isolated problems to be solved one by one. Are we seeing the same problems coming through social that are hitting our other customer service channels? Unite Customer Support and Marketing I’ve said it before, but the two halves of corporate social media efforts (marketing and customer support) are intimately intertwined, and they depend upon each other for their ultimate success.
Corporate social media channels have the potential to greatly extend brand reach and drive customer traffic to the website — and to create PR nightmares on a scale that was unimaginable even a decade ago.
Social is definitely a double-edged sword. On the one side, social channels are great for pushing content out to an opted-in audience; for promoting products and services; for sharing company milestones, news, and awards.
On the other side, social media hands a megaphone to disgruntled customers, activists, and Internet trolls — and you have no control over what they say about your brand and when.
It’s essential to manage both sides of the social media game, lest you become a cautionary tale (like the infamous “United Breaks Guitars” debacle, where poor customer service from United Airlines inspired a viral music video that has reached well over 16 million views).
As I’ve researched some of the most egregious social media fails from major brands over the last few years, I identified five common categories. Avoid these, and you’ll largely stay out of the path of the circling sharks.
Considering that you probably have loftier goals than simply staying out of trouble in the social media world, I’ve followed up the fails with five tips for improving your social-media marketing efforts and five tips for improving social-based customer support.
Five Types of Social Media Fails
- Posting to the Wrong Account. When something outrageous appears on a corporate Twitter account, it’s usually the result of an employee accidentally posting a personal Tweet to the company account. (This has happened to KitchenAid, the Red Cross, and the U.S. Justice Department.) Do you have any checks and balances in place to avoid this kind of innocent but costly mistake?
- Copying-and-Pasting the Wrong Link. Both US Airways and an ESPN analyst humiliated themselves by inadvertently embedding unrelated (and wildly inappropriate) links into otherwise benign posts. Even though the ESPN example was deleted within seconds, somebody was poised to screen-capture the offending Tweet. Somebody always is.
- Being Tone Deaf. Attempts to capitalize on international tragedies or troubling current events never play well on social. Recent offenders include the Seattle Seahawks comparing the Civil Rights struggle to a football game, American Apparel somehow mistaking a photo of the Challenger explosion for festive fireworks, and Kenneth Cole using the 2011 Cairo uprising to promote his spring collection. Learn from these mistakes.
- Asking for It. Your goal may be to appear open and conversational, but attempts to actively invite social feedback can majorly backfire. Just ask SeaWorld how their #AskSeaWorld hashtag panned out, or JPMorgan Chase about #AskJPM, or McDonald’s about #McDStories. If your brand is already suffering from negative public perception, a hashtag campaign will only compound your problems.
- Hasty Hashtagging. Before you blindly toss a hashtag into a social post, research why it’s trending and what it means. DiGiornio enraged the Internet when it inserted the #WhyIStayed domestic violence hashtag into a pizza Tweet. Entenmann’s donuts made the same mistake by applying #notguilty to donuts, when the rest of the Internet was using it to vent about an outrageous verdict in a murder trial.
Five Tips for Better Social Marketing