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15 big social media mistakes companies make and how to avoid them

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Oct. 24, 2013
Social media experts discuss the most common social networking business blunders and what companies can do to improve their social media IQ.

"It's important to keep your cool and stay professional, even in response to an unfounded and highly personal attack," agrees Aaron Hollobaugh, vice president of sales and marketing, Hostway Corporation, a managed hosting, Web hosting and cloud hosting provider. "The worst thing to do is to respond in kind to [a negative] attack, which will only attract more attention to the problem customer and escalate the situation — and [could] end up harming your brand and alienating customers."

10. Not responding quickly, especially to complaints. "When you create a brand presence on social media, especially on Facebook or Twitter, your customers are going to come to you there for customer service, whether you offer it or not," says Miller.

"Take too long to respond, or not respond at all, and the situation can turn into a public bashing spree," Miller says. "How to avoid a customer service nightmare: set guidelines for the hours you're present on the channel to answer questions, and quickly facilitate or answer all inquiries."

11. Posting too infrequently. "Social media marketing takes patience and persistence," says Rand. "You can't just post once a week — or less — and expect people to come flocking to your door to buy your products/services," she says. "If you don't have the time or commitment to devote to posting five to seven days a week, you might as well not bother and focus on more traditional advertising methods such as direct mail or pay-per-click ads."

12. Sounding impersonal or automated. "People use social media because they want to interact with other people, not with some unnamed, personality-free company rep," says Jenna Woodul, executive vice president and chief community officer, LiveWorld, a social content marketing company.

"Even if your social media handle is your company's name, introduce the folks that moderate it on your Profile or About page — and let them include a tag so it's clear which messages are theirs," she says.

"A personal touch makes a significant impact," adds Stephanie Petelos, media representative, ProctorU, which provides secure online test proctoring. "It annoys people when responses are automated or sound too robotic — and [that can cost you] followers," she says. "Making the extra effort to respond with a little wit can put a smile someone's face and leave a positive impression."

Just be sure that whomever moderates your social media presence is aware of your company's social media guidelines and understands that she is representing the brand.

13. Sending automated direct messages (DM) to all of your new Twitter followers. "This is really easy for companies to fall prey to because it seems too simple," says Griffis. "The problem is that people don't appreciate robotic, impersonalized messages, which usually result in unfollows," she explains. "If you want to increase traffic, give people a reason to follow you by providing value and creating conversations," not sending them automated DMs.


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