10 Ways to Avoid Social Media Mistakes

May 3, 2012 by Sandra Burciaga

Whether you’re running your personal Twitter or four social media networks for three different high profile clients, making even the smallest of mistakes can cost you a lot. At worst, you may even lose some of your following and possibly your job. The sad hard truth is, we all make mistakes. Even the biggest of brands or the best of editors—no one is perfect. We are human and we’ve all fallen victim to ridicule because of our errors. However, there are ways to prevent social media faux pas and there are always clever ways to recover from them.

Oscar Wilde once said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” If this statement is true, then you probably shouldn’t have some 18-year-old intern running your brand’s social media profiles. Your social playing field could be one of their branches of experience paved through a road of trial and error. It’s all too often that we see brands and businesses try to save an extra buck by allowing a young and inexperienced digital marketer run their social media profiles. When you’re receiving this service at a cost of little to nothing, expect the same results.

Needless to say, even the most experienced of social media managers have been the catalyst of a viral blunder or two. Below are 10 ways to avoid social media mistakes. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, you can all benefit from these tips.

1. Triple check your work – Although most social media updates are informal by nature with abbreviations made to fit 140-characters-or-less, people do take notice of spelling and typographical errors. Don’t let your clients and customers think that you’re sloppy with your work. No brand would want to be represented that way.

2. Don’t be negative or talk trash on your competitors – Not only is this considered a low blow, but it also makes you appear tactless and extremely unprofessional. If you can’t create engaging content or deliver your updates with wit and creativity to garner a social media following without insulting your competitors, perhaps you should reconsider your career choice.

3. Select an original, never-been-used hashtag – If you’re managing a large social media presence and want to make a hashtag go viral, please make sure that your hashtag of choice is not already in use (especially in a negative tone about your brand). Do you remember the unfortunate case of McDonalds and their #McStories Twitter backlash? Ouch.

4. Keep your clipboard clear – When cutting and pasting a URL into a link shortener, make sure your clipboard is fresh and clean. You don’t want to paste a link to that Fredrick’s of Hollywood nightie on your wish list into the URL shortener of your brand’s Twitter account. Instead of Tweeting your company's latest product update, you just might Tweet a NSFW link.

5. Be sensitive to the world around you – It’s nice to keep a fun and informal tone on your social pages. No one wants to engage with a stiff and awkward corporate personality. However, getting too comfortable in your own shoes, especially when you’re toying with a sensitive subject—can really hurt your brand’s online presence. So was the case of Kenneth Cole using the protests in Egypt to promote its spring collection. The Tweet offended many people and Kenneth Cole later issued a public apology.

6. Give credit where credit is due – If you enjoyed a Tweet that wasn't your own or received some valuable input or an idea from a fan/follower, don’t be stingy—mention them in your Tweet or better yet, give them a ReTweet. People also notice when you’re stealing the ideas of others or piggybacking off their witty Tweets and molding them into your own.

7. Don’t hijack hashtags – This poor social media marketing technique comes in an awful flavor of WTF! Do not hashtag your Tweets with irrelevant hashtags that are trending. Similar to talking trash on your competitors, this will also make you appear tactless and extremely unprofessional. HabitatUK learned a tough social media lesson this way.

8. Launch a promotional campaign that engages, not disengages – The purpose of social media is to be social online and for your ideas and messages to go viral. When launching a Facebook or Twitter contest you want your audience to spread whatever it is that you’re promoting. Burger King chose to launch a Facebook contest titled the “Whopper Sacrifice” that encouraged Facebook users to delete their friends.

9. Don’t be a copycat – It’s okay to check out your competitors every-now-and-then but don’t make it a habit. Focus on your own original ideas and calls-to-action. Give your brand’s social media profiles their own personality and campaign strategies, not some third-rate knock-off of another brand. Your fans and followers will respect you more and value your content if it’s fresh and compelling. The last thing you want is for a follower to call you out for copying another brand down to the verbatim of their Tweets!

10. It’s a marathon, not a sprint – Building a social media community doesn’t happen over night. If you’re not continuously reaching out to your audience and potential followers with engaging content, you’re not going to succeed. Reply back to your followers/fans, ReTweet interesting topics and ask your following questions and make them feel important. Let them know that you care and entertain them with conversation. Social media is a continuous process—not something that you do for two hours straight once a month.

What social media tips do you reccommend? Let us know your thoughts via Twitter and/or our Facebook page.

~ Written by Sandra Burciaga - Digital Marketing Manager at Pomegranate



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