Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your business online. Compared to SEO and standard marketing efforts, social media provides a stable, direct avenue of interacting with your fans. It’s practically a fact that businesses with strong social media presences experience steadier growth than businesses that lack it.
But social media is something of a double-edged sword. If you mess up on social media, everybody finds out about it. Whether it’s a mistimed tweet or an insensitive attempt to market your product, a social media blunder is sure to be a good source of bad publicity. Featured below are some of the biggest social media blunders that happen occasionally, and how you, as an entrepreneur, should be avoiding these same mistakes.
Every marketer in the world knows about the importance of a trend. In social media marketing, the value of a trend is unparalleled. Paying attention to what everyone is talking about is an important part of succeeding in the world of social media. When a new trend pops up, it’s pretty much guaranteed that every business in the world is going to find a way to promote their product in the context of whatever that trend is.
But if you’re going to promote your content in the context of a trend, remember to practice a bit of tact and sensitivity. Don’t copy the example of Epicurious, a cooking site that somehow found it appropriate to promote recipes for whole-grain cranberry scones in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Another example is Kenneth Cole, a designer who similarly thought it was appropriate to promote his brand in light of the protests in Cairo.
Never, under any circumstance, try to make light of serious situations. You’re not being clever or witty if you’re trying to promote your product like this. If anything, you’re only going to succeed in giving you and your brand a bad name.
Big companies and small business alike often employ the use of experts to run their social media accounts. After all, succeeding in the social media landscape requires consistency. If you want your social media account to be noticed, it has to be active around the clock. Big names like Target, Starbucks, and Apple have hundreds of employees keeping their Twitter or Facebook profiles alive.
But what happens when these companies fire one of these employees without properly revoking access to the company’s social media accounts? An example of this happened in 2013, when HMV employees were being laid off by the dozen. Without warning, the company found its Twitter profile getting hijacked by dozens of angry, disappointed employees. This effectively exposed HMV to a ton of negative publicity.
At the same time, key employees are often directly associated with the companies they work for. If you’re the vice president of a brand or a regular writer for a publication, your Twitter or Facebook profile is usually going to mention your relationship with a particular organization. On the plus side, every time this employee tweets or interacts with his fans, he is indirectly promoting his employer. But, on the other hand, if this employee were to suddenly decide to turn against his parent company, his words would carry a bit more weight than usual. Once a disgruntled employee opens his mouth, news outlets and loyal followers alike are going to spread the word like wildfire. Repairing your brand’s name is going to be a nightmare.
Avoiding these scenarios is actually pretty easy. To avoid the former, remember to always practice care and consideration when parting with an employee. If you’re going to lay them off, whether it’s because you’re cutting costs or because of their performance, remember to allow them a bit of dignity. Let them leave with their pride intact. Don’t burn bridges with your employees. Do everything in your power to keep them, at the very least, still respectful of the brand they once represented.
Sometimes, these scandals are caused by companies releasing obviously loyal employees without warning. Employees are people too. Suddenly having your loyalty thrown aside is a perfectly valid reason to get mad at a company you once loved. If you’re going to part ways with your employees, take care of them and let them off gently.
Now, avoiding the equally disastrous second scenario is a bit simpler. If a rogue employee starts acting like a jerk online, all you have to do is sever ties with him or her. Don’t hesitate. Release the employee before any more damage can be done. After releasing the employee, make a quick announcement to your fans about the situation.
This very solution was practiced by Sun News Network when one of their reporters, Vandon Gene, started acting unprofessionally on Twitter after a rejected selfie request with Anderson Cooper. Within just a few days, the reporter was fired and the channel announced his departure, quickly diffusing the situation.
Brand Owners Themselves Acting Unprofessionally
The most extreme case of a social media failure is when the founders of a company themselves start acting unprofessionally. Brand owners themselves misbehaving on social media can deal a much heavier blow to the company name compared to the actions of a random employee.
One of the most memorable examples of this situation occurred in 2013, when the owners of Amy’s Baking Company went online to voice long tirades against their followers. The owners’ breakdown was caused by a sudden surge of negative feedback, following the airing of a Kitchen Nightmares’ episode where they were featured.
The Amy’s Baking Company situation is a perfect example of how not to react to negative feedback. When the tirade happened, the company lost face from its fans and people who had never even heard about them in the first place.
Avoiding such a horrific meltdown is simple. All it takes is a bit of common sense. If you’re the president, CEO, or founder of a company, remember to act like it. Everything you do is going to be an extension of your brand. Don’t act like the owners of Amy’s Baking Company. If you receive criticism, treat the criticism with care. Don’t just react angrily through Facebook or Twitter. Tread carefully and respond professionally.