1. Mixing up personal and business accounts
KitchenAid learned just how much a simple tweet mix-up can cause a backlash of epic proportions. During the 2012 debates, President Obama mentioned his grandmother and the health problems she faced before her death in 2008 as he was discussing the Affordable Care Act. A KitchenAid employee tweeted out “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president,” not realizing he was on the corporate Twitter account, not his personal account. KitchenAid came back with an apology, but they had to crank out some serious damage control after the incident.
It still surprises me when I see small business owners post their personal political or religious views online, especially on the business’s social media pages. As a business, when you publicly take a side on a contentious issue, you can end up alienating half your customer base. Even if you simply share a post that takes a stand on a political or religious issue, just because you didn’t write it doesn’t mean it won’t reflect on your business. My best advice: Stay neutral, stay objective, stay out of it.
3. Not checking your hashtags
If you’re going to use a hashtag, I cannot stress this enough: DOUBLE, TRIPLE AND QUADRUPLE CHECK IT. Make sure the hashtag you’re using fits with the narrative of your brand. DiGiorno learned this lesson the hard way in 2014 when the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. This hashtag was used as a way for women and men to tell their domestic violence stories and why they stayed with their abusers. DiGiorno did not do their research and tweeted out, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Although the employee who tweeted it out deleted the post within 10 seconds, it was online long enough for people to take notice, and it doesn’t sit well with most people when it looks like your company is using domestic violence to sell pizza. The moral of the story: CHECK YOUR HASHTAGS.
4. Responding defensively to critics
Look, I get it. Someone posts a scathing review of your business, it’s natural to want to fight back. When it comes to business, you must resist the temptation. Clapping back at critics in a harsh, angry or defensive manner can backfire and portray you, your business, and your reputation in a negative light.
5. Deleting negative comments
It’s true that responding to negative comments in a defensive way can backfire, but so can deleting the comments altogether. If you see a negative post about your business, this is an opportunity to resolve the issue in a civil and public way. Not only could you potentially make a customer happy, but it also reflects positively on your business and shows your customers that you welcome feedback and are willing to work with people to make sure they have an enjoyable customer experience. (Keep in mind, when I mention “negative” posts, I’m not including abusive, hateful or threatening posts. If you see those on your page, delete them.)
6. Posting too much/not enough
If you post way too much, it can look like spam and push away your customers. If you don’t post enough, it can look like you don’t take your business seriously. If you’re on Facebook, try to post at least 4-5x a week. On Twitter, 3-5x a day. Other social media platforms, try to aim for one post a day.
7. Overloading on social media platforms
Yes, having a social media presence is good, but trying to operate too many social media platforms can be detrimental. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin across 4 or 5 social media accounts. Pick one. Yes, one. Pick one social media platform, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever else your customer base may be, and master that platform. It’s better to have one excellent and active account than to have 4 mediocre accounts that you don’t spend a lot of time on.
If you can avoid these 7 deadly sins, you’re on your way to building a successful social media strategy and growing an organic and engaging customer base.