Bestselling author Neil Gaiman once wrote, “Sometimes, the best way to learn something is by doing it wrong and looking at what you did.”
That’s very true. On the other hand, it’s always wonderful when you can avoid “doing it wrong” in the first place. Ha! I’d like to help you avoid a few common missteps on social media that could be hurting your brand.
When clients hire us for consulting and strategizing, social media is always part of the discussion. “How should we use social media? How often? Which platforms? What works and what doesn’t?” There’s so much confusion about how to use social media effectively and I’ve seen a lot of blunders.
Recently, we started working with a very successful lifestyle brand. They have a Twitter account and quite a few followers. But they haven’t tweeted in over a year. Their Twitter account feels like a scene from an old Western movie. An empty ghost town. Silent and desolate. Tumbleweeds blowing in the wind. It’s bizarre, and it sends the wrong message to their customers. (I mean, why bother creating a Twitter account if you’re never going to use it?)
Down below, I’m sharing 10 social media mistakes that consistently make me cringe and say, “Ohhhh. No.” I’ve seen multi-million dollar brands making these kinds of mistakes, as well as small business owners, and even a few of our celebrity clients. These are very common issues – but happily, they are all easy to correct.
Don’t ignore your followers.
It’s one thing if you’re Beyoncé or Kendall Jenner, who have millions of people commenting and tweeting at them on the daily – obviously it’s impossible to respond to everyone. But if you run a business – large or small –then your social media accounts are an extension of your customer service department. If someone is dissatisfied with your product – and they are unable to reach you through the usual channels of phone and email – I can guarantee that they are going to reach out on social media. If you aren’t monitoring this, you’re destined for customer service problems and situations that can ultimately do tremendous damage to your brand.
Don’t promote your products and services more than 20% of the time.
Social media isn’t a place to constantly pitch yourself and your products. Social media is just that – social. It’s a way to connect with potential clients and customers, inspire, educate and entertain, build trust and yes, show off your amazing products and services. But if all you’re doing is pitching and selling – basically yelling at people with a megaphone, “Buy this! Also this! Available now!” – you’re going to turn people off and I can guarantee they won’t be buying from you.
Don’t buy followers.
As strange as it may sound, there are companies that will give you thousands of social media followers – instantly – for a price. This practice is called “buying followers” and it’s never a good move. Sure, it might seem like a good idea at first, but bigger social media numbers don’t necessarily translate into more popularity or sales. Prior to hiring us, one client bought a few thousand followers for their Facebook page. They already had a healthy following of about 10,000 people – and within one week, those numbers jumped to 15,000. But most of these new followers aren’t real people at all – they’re bots. And none of those additional 5,000 followers are real fans of our client’s brand – they’re just empty, unengaged numbers. Even worse, when our client advertises on Facebook (which they do), now they’ll be charged more per click because their numbers are bigger. In other words, they’re being charged for their number of followers, but they don’t get the real value because a large portion of the people they are advertising to aren’t real fans. Bottom line? Don’t buy followers. Just don’t. It’s ineffective on so many levels and will come back to bite you.
Don’t abandon a social media platform, but leave it active.
If you decide to test-drive Twitter, and after a few months, you decide it’s not the right platform for you, don’t abandon the account. If you’re not going to use it consistently, then de-activate it completely. Don’t just leave it sitting there, active but unattended. When you’re not active on one of your platforms, it’s like a house with no light on. It’s there, but you’re not. This can have disastrous consequences for your brand image. You either need to be active on a platform – checking in regularly and sharing valuable content – or choose somewhere else to spend your time.
Don’t abandon your blog, either.
If you’ve got a blog on your website, but your last post was from 2013, this signals all kinds of negative things for your brand. First, you’re not home. Second, you’re lazy. And third, and the most worrisome, you’re not positioning yourself as an authority brand since you haven’t checked in since 2013. You might care a lot about your fans and customers, but it sure doesn’t appear that way when your blog feels like a ghost town. If you’re going to have a blog, you’ve got to post regularly. Otherwise, remove it from your website.
Don’t cross-pollinate your platforms.
“Cross-pollinating” means connecting your Twitter and/or Instagram account to Facebook, so that posts from one platform automatically get posted on another platform, verbatim. This may seem like a smart time-saving hack, but it really doesn’t work. Each social media platform has its own native language and quirks, and should be treated accordingly. From a customer’s viewpoint, it appears lazy and odd to see a Facebook status update with 10 hashtags that was clearly written on Instagram first, or 13 status updates in a row that are obviously one side of a conversation on Twitter. Take the time to get to know each platform and decide which one(s) work best for your brand. You can always use a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer for a portion of your posts – but that’s another lesson for another day.
Don’t try to be everywhere at once.
I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve worked with over the years who feel a lot of anxiety about the idea that they need to be everywhere on social media. They feel a tremendous amount of relief when I inform them that they don’t need to be everywhere, and most likely, it’s better if they’re not – especially at first. Whether I’m working with a small business owner or a multi-million dollar lifestyle brand, I always recommend adopting one – and no more than two – social platforms to begin. Take your time to understand the landscape and the language. Have fun with it and build some engagement before you jump to the next platform.
Don’t use a picture of your dog – or your child – as your profile photo.
Or even worse, the dreaded “Twitter egg.” If you’re in business for yourself, and/or have a product or service offering and you’re using social media to attract more clients, you need to put your best foot forward and use a good, recent picture for your profile on your social media platforms – either of you or your logo, if it feels more appropriate.
Don’t use completely different color schemes, fonts and logos across different platforms.
This is a huge branding no-no. Whether I visit your website, Facebook page or Instagram account, I should get the same messaging and look from all three. You should create a consistent look and feel for your brand wherever you are represented. Remember, a confused mind never buys. Make it easy for your people to understand who you are, what you offer and why they should care.
Don’t treat social media like it’s a boring, tedious chore.
If you feel resentful about using social media – like your followers are an annoying burden that you have to manage, or that posting new content is “yet another item” on your to-do list – believe me, people can feel your negative attitude. It will also stifle your creativity. It will show. Either change your attitude – and get a better grasp on how fun and effective social media can be – or hire someone to run your accounts for you.
The good news is that these social media blunders can be turned around very quickly. With a few adjustments, you can create a very successful social media presence for your brand.
What are some other mistakes you’ve seen on social media? Please share them in the comments below.