I came across a wonderfully succinct article recently about the ways companies have been known to sabotage their own social media efforts. Now, I don’t want to scare you and provide yet another excuse for not making an effort (or hiring WM to do it for you !!), but having the knowledge of what to avoid should provide you with a sense of comfort and encouragement. And if you already encountered these and bailed as a result, maybe knowing you’re not alone will give you confidence to stick your toe back in the water.
The article provides 6 ways to go wrong. I want to revisit these with my own basis for why you may find yourself falling into these traps and how to recognize and avoid them.
- Set up your social media profiles then go back to business as usual.
We’re creatures of habit. Social media requires developing new habits. We don’t like new habits. It’s hard to change our routines. But if you want to engage your marketplace online then you need to make time for monitoring and participating. Yes, sometimes there’s nothing found when monitoring and there’s no one to participate with. But when there is and you’re not there… well, it’s not pretty.
- One person is assigned the role of “social media” person.
That’s like saying your receptionist is the only one in your company allowed to talk to non-employees. It’s silly. It’s especially silly when every one of your employees is probably already active in the same social media channels your company is. It would be much better if everyone behaved as they would at a tradeshow. They’d be on their best behavior doing what they can to represent the company while engaging in conversations that aren’t always about the company but are useful in developing relationships and confidence that later lead back to the company offerings.
- Not keeping everyone involved and aware of what’s happening online.
If customers are being referred to contact a customer service person when they mention a problem online, wouldn’t it be the best thing to also forewarn your customer service staff of the online conversation? That way, when the person does come or call in, they are greeted with, “Oh yes, I heard about your situation. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to fix it for you.”
- Don’t set benchmarks or goals.
Nothing helps a project run out of steam faster than to start it off without establishing any measures of success. If you simply ask, “How’s it going?” once a week, guess what? Eventually you’re going to stop asking or you’re going to get the response, “We’ve been so busy lately, I’ve not been able to check in.” Instead, make this a team effort. Assign at least two people to the task and ensure that they have created and are working from a calendar (daily or weekly) of topics. That way there’s no excuses like, “I just don’t know what to say or write.”
- Forgetting to count to ten or to sleep on it.
The call them trolls for a reason. They sit there waiting for some poor fool to try and get by. Then they jump out and make a huge nuisance of themselves all while blaming you. They’ll jump you in social media channels, playing the victim while leveraging the public forum where you need to play by the rules of etiquette while they don’t. When such situations occur, it is imperative that the cooler heads prevail. This typically means crafting a response by committee and sometimes doing so the next day when your rage has disappated some. Waiting too long can have an negative impact as well. It’s a balancing act.
- Missing the whole transparency thing.
It’s your Facebook profile. If you want, you can delete comments. It’s your blog. If you want, you can delete that post or change that paragraph as if it was always correctly worded. But, there’s an expection that once something is placed online, it should always remain there. If you have a bad comment on your Facebook wall, you should probably leave it there unless it’s offensive to the general population and not just you. If you realized you mispoke in a blog post, go ahead and add a paragraph explaining you’ve updated the post and, instead of deleting anything, use a cross-out typeface to indicate what should now be ignored. Doing anything else makes it look like you’re trying to sneak one by and if anyone can make that case, return to #5 above.
Do you have any experiences with these so that others can learn from them? Add them to the comments below.