By Sheila Beal
If your brand, business or company seeks to harness the benefits of social media, you need to be aware of some pitfalls to avoid.
While social media can do wonders to help raise awareness and improve the sales of a business, if it’s not done well, it can also come back to haunt you. I’ve gone from being a raving fan of a business to being unlikely to ever patronize that business again, based on their poor social media skills.
Now, I’m not telling you that to make you scared to dip your toes in the social media pool. I’m only telling you this because I want you to be aware of some social media basic skills that can make or break your efforts.
You may have heard the analogy that social media networks are like cocktail parties. So, let’s use that cocktail party environment to illustrate some social media pitfalls to avoid:
Let’s say you are at a party and there’s a woman that goes on and on talking about her accomplishments and how great she is and how great other people think she is. That’s going to get old, very quickly. Parties are meant to be pleasant gatherings where people exchange information – social media is also meant to help people share information. So in social media, don’t spend all your time talking about yourself. That’s not social, it’s boring.
You saunter up to the punchbowl when you happen to see the owner of your favorite restaurant. You get up the nerve to talk to the owner. You walk over, say hello and that you love their restaurant and visit it at least once a week. The restaurant owner looks at you and walks away. You would think that owner was a jerk, wouldn’t you? Well, the same thing happens in social media all the time. If a customer or potential client takes the time to try to interact with you, don’t ignore it. Listen, engage, and be polite just as you would in real life. If you are on twitter check your @ folder and respond.
You’re introduced to the manager of a new drycleaners in town. You’d be interested in checking them out, so you ask them what hours they are open. The manager just ignores you and grabs some more hors d’oeuvres. You would think that this manager was a jerkface and doesn’t want your business. This same situation happens all the time in social media. Followers and fans ask questions on twitter and facebook. Take the time to attempt to answer their question. If you can’t answer it, tell them you don’t know but will get back to them. Otherwise, your fans and followers will begin to think you don’t want their business. Make a habit of checking to see what facebookers are saying on your wall or twitter users are asking you via your @ folder. Then, respond to them.
You grab some appetizers and look for an empty seat at table. You sit next to a fellow and notice from his name tag that he’s from a local company that’s new in town. As you start chatting with this guy, you quickly realize he’s a moron and knows very little about his company’s products. You begin to wonder — if this is the guy that this company has sent to represent them, is the rest of the company full of morons, too? This same scenario happens in social media. Make sure that the person who runs your social media has a good understanding of your company’s products and services.
What jerk behavior have you seen at a social media “cocktail party?”
About Sheila Beal