Everyone today accepts that they need to “do social media”, but can you just jump in and “do” it? What are the risks? What are the main pitfalls when it comes to social media, and what can you do to avoid them?
1. Thinking you can succeed without a strategy
It’s not just the big brands that need a strategy. You’ll save both time and money if you think things through before you start: Who is your target audience? What are they looking for and where? What types of content can you create to meet both their needs and yours, and what are the right platforms to distribute that content? Who is going to create that content and how much will it cost to make it of a sufficient quality? What exactly are you trying to achieve?
2. Going for the easy win
Yes, it may be tempting to buy likes and followers at first, and, yes, a large fan base looks impressive on the surface. But would you rather have 100 fans who are loyal brand lovers and who will buy and endorse your product… or 5,000 fans consisting of fake accounts, people who are not in your target audience and who will never engage with your posts or care about your product? Building a genuine fan base takes time but it’s a far more effective strategy in the long run.
3. Talking about yourself
Social networks are not just another stage for you to broadcast how amazing your product is. People are on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, to talk to their friends, to learn from experts, to be inspired. How will you make sure you’re relevant, how are you going to add value? How will you engage with your fans, make their lives easier, help them, entertain them? Social media is about having conversations, building relationships; it’s not just a one-way advertising platform.
4. Ignoring your fans
Many big brands, luxury brands in particular, choose to preserve their aspirational status by maintaining a cold distance to their fans. It may work for the Chanels of the world, but for the rest of us, ignoring fans can be disastrous. Reward your fans for their loyalty, answer their questions, show them you care. When it comes to criticism, left unanswered it will only damage your brand. Be open and transparent, show that you’re listening, and find a way to make things right.
5. Trying to please everyone
On the other hand, if the criticism really is limited to a handful of people and they are not part of your target group, then once you’ve addressed their concerns politely, you should move on and keep providing value to those who do appreciate your proposition. Trying to appeal to everyone, and diluting or changing your message every time someone has a different opinion, will eventually leave you with nobody liking you at all. You can’t please everyone.
Above all, don’t just leave it to the intern! Success on social media requires strategic thinking, a deep understanding of your brand, responsible public relations, thoughtful customer service… ignore that at your peril.