5 Innocent Social Media Mistakes That Should Concern You

Common social media mistakes

Have you ever hit the ‘enter’ button and regretted it almost immediately?

Maybe you’ve sent an email or posted a comment on social media for example.

I know I have.

Well don’t feel too bad – we’re not the only ones!

For example, Coca-Cola got into hot water with it’s 2015 Christmas card which simultaneously managed to offend two entire nations!

Now I don’t know the worst social media mistake you’ve made on your company or personal accounts but these mistakes can be very damaging to your company, to say the least. If you’re lucky enough to have a large following, this effect can be magnified exponentially.

The bottom line is that whilst social media is great for attracting new customers, as a business owner you must be vigilant about what is said on behalf of your company.

So below are 5 of the worst social media mistakes you could make, albeit unintentionally:

Innocent Mistake #1: Lack Of Humour

Everyone loves a bit of humour. After all it helps you connect with your audience on social media.

However, while companies such as Tesco Mobile have nailed it, others just fall flat. For some it’s because they don’t apply the context, and for others it’s the insensitivity that comes with the posts.

As a case in point, during the 2012 US Presidential election debates one of KitchenAid’s staff used the company’s Twitter handle to tweet in bad taste.

Whether the person was representing the company or was just voicing their own opinion, the damage was done. And it was done on the company’s account. Ultimately the company was able to turn the crisis around to its advantage. Nevertheless, you can’t afford to make such mistakes.

Humour is contextual. You have to consider the demographic and the situation before you decide to crack a joke on your social media page.

Innocent Mistake #2: Timing Of Social Media Posts

The kinds of posts you send out should be perfectly-timed with what’s going on at your company at that particular moment.

Otherwise, you could end up confusing your followers or as in the case of British Gas, give your audience the opportunity to show their anger towards your brand.

In 2013, the company ran #AskBG – a Twitter chat session – where the audience would be free to ask any questions they had.

So far, so good.

The problem was it coincided with their new (and unpopular) 9.2% price hike, which they had announced on the same day.

You can imagine the uproar that resulted changing #AskBG into a bashtag. Some experts said it was “one of the worst” social media PR disasters.

While you’re very unlikely to make BG’s mistake, it’s very easy to make a similar one.

With Social Media tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite you can be tempted to schedule your social media posts too far into the future and forgetting what you’ve scheduled. As a result, you might not get to edit the posts to resonate with any changes at the company that you might not have anticipated at the time of scheduling.

Innocent Mistake #3: Responding Inappropriately (To Customer Concerns)

Of course the customer is always right. Your responses to disgruntled customers should never appear to put them at fault.

But that’s exactly what happened to Transport for London (TFL) in April 2014 when a Twitter user tweeting by the handle @dan_down reached out to the company to ask about getting reimbursed due to consistently being late for work.

Their reply suggesting that Dan leave earlier didn’t exactly endear them to the travelling public.

Let’s face it, at some point you’re going to have unhappy customers. In this age, they will even write a lengthy review and if you’re lucky, they’ll post on your Facebook page or start a trend on Twitter where everyone can see the complaint and join the train.

What’s important though is how you respond. This matters more than anything. Respond negatively and you’ll find that hell hath no fury like a customer scorned!

Innocent Mistake #4: Jumping On Every Trend Without Checking

Look closely at trending topics on Twitter and you’ll probably see a completely unrelated tweet by a brand trying to capitalise on the hashtag’s popularity. While it works most of the time, sometimes this can backfire and cause damage to your company’s reputation.

Take for instance a US pizza firm which jumped on the #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft bandwagon on Twitter in 2014 seemingly without realizing that it was a trend where domestic violence victims were supposed to share their stories on the platform.

When it hit them, the company’s Twitter manager had to spend hours apologising to all those that responded showing that they had been offended by the tweet.

To avoid making similar mistakes, make an effort to research comprehensively the origin of every hashtag before you throw in your promotional tweet.

Innocent Mistake #5: Being (Or Appearing to Be) Insensitive

Hijacking every hashtag you see can have two serious repercussions: You could send out an irrelevant tweet showing everyone how clueless you are; or you could go the whole hog and show complete insensitivity.

For instance, in 2013, a well known cooking site recommended “Whole-grain cranberry scones” for the Boston Marathon Tragedy victims.

With social media, you have to get these things right the first time. There’s no room to explain that you didn’t know what the trend was about. So, again, do your research and filter the kind of messages you post on social media.

Wrap Up

Social media never forgets and is incredibly fast. So by the time you take down a post it’s already taken screenshots and stored them safely. Social media doesn’t recognise excuses.

But social media IS a great place to grow your business. The underlying factor in all the above mishaps is lack of proper research and review of social media posts before they go live.

And that’s what you should always do. Want to leverage a popular trend? Know the story first. Want to tweet a map of regions you serve? Have the most current map.

That’s all for today. If you’ve got some experiences you’d like to share let us hear about them in the comments below.

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