Social media pitfalls brand managers should avoid

From associating with irrelevant influencers to a lack of multi-strategy approach for social platforms, exchange4media delves into the social media blunders that brands are prone to making

by Abhinn Shreshtha
Published - Jun 27, 2014 7:56 AM Updated: Jun 27, 2014 7:56 AM
Social media pitfalls brand managers should avoid

Social media is a powerful marketing tool. But as with any new tool, there are a number of pitfalls that can crop up from time to time. We take a look at some costly social media blunders that brand managers can avoid.

Not having a social media policy
Everyone talks about having a social media strategy but it is equally important to have proper guidelines in place which cover every eventuality. From how to handle social gaffes to the right protocol to follow while escalating consumer queries, if there is a ready roadmap which is known by every person in the social media team it will cause less heartburn and confusion later on.

Having one strategy for every social network
Another common mistake made by many brands is putting every single social network in the same bracket. But this ‘holistic’ strategy does not work. What might be feasible on Facebook might not work on Twitter and vice versa. Apart from this, there are a number of specific characteristics of every social network which can be leveraged individually. For example, Pinterest is a very visual medium, so a content strategy for it should include lots of images and visual elements. Similarly, Twitter is a real-time medium so it is important to monitor it 24x7 and be prompt in responding to trends and queries.

Don’t buy likes and followers
No one wants to admit this but this practice is still quite common across the world. Just like during the early 2000s we had fly-by-night operators who would sell ‘clicks’ on digital banner advertisements, there are plenty of ways in which brands which are only considered about numbers can get likes and followers, but does this work in the long run? Not at all, the likes the brand acquires through this manner are hollow. The followers are not brand loyalists and will not generate any meaningful conversation. Just having a numbers-only outlook towards social media usually leads people down this road. Numbers are important but do not let it be the only overriding criterion for determining the brand’s social media success.

Don’t over rely on influencers
Social media influencers are a great way for brands to amplify their message, increase brand trust and improve user interactions. However, it has also been noticed that many brands approach this in a very simplistic and one-dimensional manner. The usual approach is to identify the people with the most followers and then have them talk about your brand or hold contests, etc. But what most brand managers do not pay attention to is the quality of the influencer’s network and how closely it relates to the product’s TG. For example, if an influencer who talks mostly about food is hired by Sony to talk about their latest TV, there is going to be a massive disconnect between the brand and the audience. Identify the right people for your brand and the message. These people might need not always be the ones with the largest networks or the most popular.

Be consistent
You need not have a pre-determined ‘quota’ of posts per day, but it also does not mean that there is a lot of fluctuation in your posts; both in terms of quantity and timing. Also, some brands seem to disappear and then re-appear only when they have something to announce. Social media is not like traditional media. It is important that your audience keeps seeing you on a daily basis. It need not have to be a new communication all the time. Just converse, talk about something generic or trending at that point of time. The opportunities are endless.

Be human, not a machine
Nothing irritates a customer more than to get generic, “Our customer care team will get in touch with you” messages in response to a query. The fact that they have taken the effort to write to you about a query means they want a speedy resolution or, at the very least, an assurance that sounds trustworthy. Sending out automated responses, some of which lead to faux pas themselves, does not help. This ties back to our earlier point of having a social media policy for your team. The social manager should know exactly how empowered his, what he is allowed to promise to the customer, etc. This facet of social media has yet to be explored by Indian brands but it will go a long way in improving your brand’s standing with your audience and customers.

Don’t overuse hashtags
Apart from the very simple fact that everyone hates it, it also makes the post confusing to read and just creates too many things to track on the internet. Decide on one or two hashtags and stick to them. This will also generate more meaningful results when analyzed at the end of the campaign. Hashtags should generally be used as they help to make posts easier to search for and remember. Filling up posts with them is contrary to this purpose.

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