In this new social world, businesses big and small have more opportunities than ever to connect with consumers. But the increased opportunity for communication has a downside. There are also more ways to alienate (and even offend) customers. Here are five things your company should never publish on social media:
Political beliefs. They say you should never talk politics or religion at the dinner table. The same goes for businesses on social media. Although it may be appropriate for your company to weigh-in on a topic affecting your industry, refrain from taking part in political discussions that have nothing to do with your business. Politics are polarizing. There is no reason to stir the pot.
Ill-suited tie-ins to current events. There are ways good ways to acknowledge what’s happening in the world and there are bad. And if you’re not careful, efforts to capitalize on a current event can come across as tasteless or disrespectful. Food website Epicurious enraged its followers when it issued tweets like this after the Boston Marathon Bombing: In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!
If you’re looking for a tie-in to a current event, take a page out of Oreo’s book. The cookie brand generated a lot of buzz with this tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout: You can still dunk in the dark. The clever tweet, which was designed, captioned and approved within moments, capitalized on the moment for a big payoff. It was the most talked about ad after the Super Bowl and was retweeted 10,000 times in one hour.
Your own personality. Don’t confuse who you are with what your brand represents. If you are posting on behalf of your company, keep your own personality out of it. Your company’s social media accounts are venues to showcase its personality not an opportunity for you, as an individual, to reach a larger audience. This is especially true if your personality and the brand’s don’t line up.
Opportunities for snide remarks.The Internet can be a cruel place and it’s always open season for snark. If you give the masses an opportunity to poke fun, they’ll take it. McDonald’s learned this lesson back in 2012 with its #McDStories Twitter campaign. The company thought it would inspire heartwarming stories with the hashtag. The Twitterverse sent back stories like this instead: Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell you would raise your hair.
McDonald’s pulled the campaign within two hours but the damage was done. Crowd-sourced campaigns are difficult to control or stop. The hashtag continued to gather steam.
Shameless self-promotion. Social media isn’t a place for traditional marketing tactics. It’s a place for personal interaction, entertaining content and useful information not pushy advertising. Pop-up ads and other outbound marketing tactics are disruptive, unsolicited and annoying. Instead, connect with consumers by developing informative content that makes people feel like it was created with their interest (not their wallet) in mind.
In conclusion, don't let these tips scare you away from trying to reach consumers on social media. They are just reminders to play it safe. If a post ever gives you pause, don't post it. It's very easy to ruin reputations -- it's always better to be safe than sorry.