8 Things You Shouldn’t Do in Social Media

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

8 Things You Shouldn’t Do in Social Media

Marketers and business owners typically look to follow best practices when engaging in social media marketing. Sometimes, it is helpful to examine the things you shouldn’t be doing instead of only looking at the things you should. Here are eight things you’ll want to avoid as you incorporate social media in your marketing mix.

1. Don’t fail to listen.

Monitoring social networks for mentions of your company is one of the first steps to establishing a solid social media marketing process. If you don’t know when people are mentioning you, you aren’t able to respond. “Listening” in social media means not only reading what is being said about you but also setting up alerts so you are notified about these mentions in the first place. Google Alerts is a good place to start to cast a wide net to search the web – and it’s free. Mention.com is another useful monitoring tool that is free for one search term searching one social account, then prices start at $25 per month. For Facebook Page notifications, download and use the Facebook Manager app. Social media dashboards like Sprout Social offer built-in social media alerts and an organized way to respond to messages.

2. Don’t wait too long to respond.

With social media at most people’s fingertips, people expect a rapid response so being prepared is key to providing quality customer service. Put systems in place for responding to mentions and queries once you receive alerts. If you have a team, clearly delineate who will respond to which types of questions or comments and provide team members with the tools they need to handle general communications. For example, prepare responses to common questions and set them up as templates in your email program and make them available on your company’s intranet to save time. Also put into place a way to escalate communications to handle more complex situations. If you’re a team of one, set up the same tools to maximize your time then allot at least half an hour each day to review and respond to alerts, notifications, and messages.

3. Don’t be afraid of negative comments.

With the proliferation of social media, many people who post publicly feel emboldened to complain about or insult companies if they aren’t satisfied with their customer experience. Whether it is a rude sales clerk or a faulty product feature, complaints seem to abound in social network feeds. Look at these negative comments as opportunities to provide better customer service or to appropriately rectify a less than satisfactory experience. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you when responding to negative feedback. Remain calm, look at the situation impartially, and seek out a solution to turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one. In most cases, customers who feel heard and respected by a company go on to post more positive, and even glowing messages to their social networks. Don’t ignore negative posts.

4. Don’t jump immediately on a trend.

While it might be tempting to post about the latest trend on social media, not every trend is relevant to your brand. When you do find a trending topic, meme or hashtag that seems appropriate, review content and context carefully before adding your voice to the feed. Not every trending topic is what it appears to be. Posting with popular hashtags and memes could land you in hot water or at the very least seem gratuitous and turn customers off. Be careful how you align your brand with other people’s content.

5. Don’t forget to post Stories.

Staying on top of the ever-evolving communications styles and trends on social networks can be challenging, but understanding the types of content people prefer helps you attract and hold their attention. The Stories content format that disappears after 24 hours continues to be popular, partly because it consists of quick messages in text, images and videos that are easy to consume and partly because of the urgency created by the content that will soon disappear. Social networks are capitalizing on the popularity of Stories by featuring this content more prominently by increasing Story visibility. You can post Stories to both your Instagram business account and your Facebook Page using each social network’s app or automatically post Stories from your Instagram business account to your Page.

6. Don’t fully automate your social media.

Scheduling social media posts saves time, particularly when you have messages you want to repeat over time. Over-relying on scheduling, however, can reduce social media engagement if you aren’t actually interacting in your social networks. Automating can also get you into hot water if you’re not paying attention to current events. Posting a commercial message in the midst of posts about a natural disaster or tragedy can come across as tone-deaf and insensitive.

7. Don’t put up a presence if you’re not equipped to respond.

Customer service requires time and attention as well as a plan for response and remedy. Your social media efforts will fail without a concrete way to be responsive in a timely manner and to handle the new influx of messages. Even solopreneurs need to make the time to properly deal with the demands of social media marketing.

8. Don’t forget about other marketing tactics.

Social media marketing may seem like the be-all-end-all in terms of reaching customers, driving traffic, and generating sales. The truth is social media marketing is only one tool in your marketing toolkit and will not serve you well unless you add in other marketing tactics that support it or are supported by it.

By understanding some of the pitfalls of social media, you can more likely avoid them and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.