4 Social Media Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Reputation

posted this in
Social Media
on May 30th, 2013

There’s a fine line between proper etiquette and bad taste when it comes to managing your company’s social media communities and there are no clear cut rules for how to handle situations.

If you pay attention to what other brands are doing, you’ll see a mix of different strategies. There is really no scientific answer to how you should conduct your business on social media. But one thing that’s pretty black and white are the mistakes that could cost you your reputation (and customers).

Here are 4 social media mistakes you should steer clear of to avoid a tarnished reputation.

Not following proper social media guidelines

When it comes to using social media communities as a tool for promotions or contests, it’s extremely important to pay attention to the guidelines or you run the risk of getting your pages banned.

Too many times I see Facebook contests where a company posts a status update that says, “Like this photo, share with all your friends, leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win an iPad! P.S. We’ll announce the winner tomorrow and send you a private message, so don’t forget to check back later.”

What’s wrong with that post? Many things. Facebook guidelines prohibit any Facebook function (likes, comments, private messages and timeline posts) to be used as the primary way to conduct a contest.

If you’re going to run a contest on Facebook, you must use a 3rd party application (like ShortStack or Pagemodo) to run the campaign. But remember, you can still use timeline posts as a way to spread the word about the campaign.

Not responding to customer comments (good or bad)

Having a person dedicated to responding to customer comments, whether they are good or bad, can really make a difference in your customer service strategy.

One of our client’s recently experienced this when a customer had a less-than-ideal experience with the company:

The same principle of responding to customer comments can also be true when a customer just has a technical question. I recently experienced this myself when I had a question for Sprout Social. Take a look at how they handled the situation:

The company responded to my inquiry within 2 minutes! Now, 2 minutes is a phenomenal response time and not always feasible for all businesses, but I do recommend responding as soon as possible. This response further solidified my trust in the company and I know my future questions will be answered.

Being insensitive in times of tragedy

When the unthinkable happens in the world, many people turn to social media to talk about what happened and how they are feeling. As a company, the decision you have to make is whether or not to post about your condolences and support for those affected.

But never, ever view a tragedy as a business opportunity. American Apparel made the mistake of doing this during hurricane Sandy and became known as the company who will “soon be hiring a new marketing director” to many customers. Here’s the ad they posted during the storm:

Whether or not your business should respond is entirely up to you, but I do recommend remembering to be sensitive and supportive if you decide to post about a tragedy. And remember that sometimes it’s better for your brand to be silent during a tough time than to risk offending someone.

Not setting guidelines for your employees

I think almost all of us shook our heads in disbelief after the “Getting Slizzard” incident that the Red Cross experienced last year:

What that mishap taught us is that it’s extremely important to set rules and guidelines that your employees must follow.

Come up with a set of guidelines for what they can and cannot post on your company’s page and also set expectations for what you expect to never see on their personal profiles. After all, your employees are a reflection of your business.

Maybe the most important takeaway from Red Cross is to always remember to check which Twitter account you’re using before posting anything.

Don’t become an example of what not to do

If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll lower your risk of ruining your reputation and losing customers. So follow the rules, don’t ignore your customers, learn to be quiet and think before you Tweet.