We all have a pretty good idea of what’s appropriate and inappropriate when we hold a meeting, talk to customers on the phone or network with professional colleagues. But in the relatively new freewheeling world of social media, businesses aiming for a vibrant presence sometimes forget (or don’t know) proper behavior—and end up annoying or alienating their target audiences.
Here are examples of common social media habits that defeat a business’s goal of engaging with existing and potential customers.
#1 Posting nothing – and then posting too much. Unless you have an employee or team assigned to handle your online accounts, it’s easy to let a few days or even weeks slide by without posting tweets or updates. You can make things worse by overcompensating with a deluge of posts and tweets the same time.
Work out a schedule that’s amenable to the pace of your business. Try, for example, to make one Facebook post and/or tweet an hour for three hours—instead of six or seven all at once. Incorporate a free scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to effectively space out your messages. The goal is to avoid flooding your followers with an abundance of “stuff.”
#2 Talking too much about you and your business. The beauty of social media is its interactive nature. You offer valuable information to others and they respond in kind. A series of self-congratulatory tweets, pins and updates gives the impression that you’re mostly interested in what’s happening with you – or worse, that you’ve decided to use social media as an advertising platform.
#3 Neglecting to respond to requests and inquiries. You would never willingly ignore a customer call about your product. The same principle applies to online inquiries or requests for assistance.
It’s imperative to respond within a business day of receiving a business-related query. Anything longer than that sends the message that you really don’t care, when of course you do. Show that customer inquiries are important by following up on each one.
#4 Overdosing on hashtags. Hashtags enable Twitter followers to compile and categorize information, as well as reach out to a select audience. But including too many hashtags in a single tweet just clogs up the works and looks unprofessional. Generally speaking, two hashtags per tweet is acceptable, depending on where you’re posting.
#5 Asking others to share or retweet. When you post an update, discount offer or other business-related message, it’s only natural to want as wide an audience as possible to receive it. But asking people to share or retweet your posts comes across as needy and discourages customer engagement. If your content is valuable or informative to the right people, they’ll do the sharing and retweeting voluntarily. It’s the best way to build a following of like-minded people.
#6 Posting insensitive and/or inappropriate content. Social media is far more informal than traditional business communications, so it’s easy to forget yourself sometimes and post a message that can tarnish your brand. Businesses should know better than to respond in a hostile or defensive manner to negative customer posts. Just like a first date, it’s also a good idea to never tweet about issues relating to politics or religion.
The timing of your messages is important as well. For example, Entenmann’s once tweeted a seemingly innocuous message (“Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!), but happened to do so on the day the verdict came in on Casey Anthony’s trial. #notguilty was trending heavily, so many people felt the tweet was highly insensitive.
If any of these habits sound familiar, now is a good time to alter your tactics and reap the sizeable marketing benefits offered by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms.