Companies should be careful about their choice of content for social media marketing (SMM). After all, their social media account is an extension of their brand.
SMM sees hits and misses every year, and 2014 was no different. From DiGiorno’s misuse of the #WhyIStayed hashtag to the New York Police Department helping people “detangle their hair,” the fallout from these SMM disasters will leave a mark on your brand for years to come. If it was an honest mistake, fine; but make sure you learn from the experience.
A quick search of professional social marketing insights will save you from committing a bad move or two. As it turns out, it’s not so much the brand manager as it is the social media marketing staff that needs to take extra care.
The following are some insights from Jayson Demers, CEO of Seatle-based online marketing firm AudienceBloom (@AudienceBloom), from his Entrepreneur (@Entrepreneur) article: “8 Social Media Mistakes That Are Killing Your Brand,” and journalist and digital consultant John Boitnott from his Inc.com (@Inc) article: “Avoid Hurting Your Brand With These 10 Social Media Mistakes.”
The Wrong Experts
Both Demers and Boitnott agree that the primary cause of an SMM campaign’s shortfall is that the manager gives the task to unqualified people. Demers cites the American Apparel debacle as an example. In 2014, the company’s social media officer mistakenly used the image of the tragic 1986 Challenger shuttle explosion for fireworks in celebration of the Fourth of July[. The immediately issued an apology the following day, but the backlash has already been swift and severe.
Security may seem unimportant to social media practitioners, but any crafty hacker who finds their way into at least one of your accounts will create a firestorm of controversy and distrust. Even with a reputable SMM firm manning your social media arm, Boitnott says it’s better to limit access to some functions to select people.
Boitnott also warned about “hashtag hijacking,” where some users purposely misuse a hashtag into meaning something other than the original. In 2012, for example, the hashtag #McDStories was included in tweets of sheer vulgarity, a far cry from its original intent of sharing childhood memories. To avoid this, Boitnott suggests clearly defining hashtags.
Originality and Variety
While you can only post so much on Facebook and Twitter, it’s not an excuse not to constantly create original and engaging content. Demers says brands must avoid being a “one-trick pony” by posting the same content over and over. Doing your research on current and upcoming trends through social marketing news sites like Marketing Digest (@mktgdigest) can help you come up with more creative posts.
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