Social media is an amazing business tool that can help create a community of like-minded folks who can provide advice and support to each other. As I run the social media channels for our clients who request the service, I get to share the news and updates coming from both the business and overarching industry that may be of interest to consumers, and I also observe the interesting conversations that arise each day to see what may be useful to pass along to our client so they can fill a gap in information or a service.
It is a tricky beast, though, social media for business. There is such a thing as over-engaging. You can also not engage enough. You can easily be too cavalier, or else too staid and robotic. It is hard to strike the right balance, which is why “social media professional” is one of the fastest-growing career paths. If you do it right, social media can positively build your business’s brand reputation as well as your Google SEO results (which is always a good thing). Do it wrong, and watch out for a maelstrom of backlash that can not only harm your business’s reputation, but also its bottom line.
Thankfully, we can always learn from each other, and there are plenty of people out there making bad mistakes on social media that teach us exactly what NOT to do. Let’s go through some of the more embarrassing business social media for business fails and see what they tell us.
- ReviveSocial recalls the worst social media for business mistakes of 2019, each of which is particularly cringe-worthy. I’ll use their second example to start. When the company was made aware of some problems with their feature called Snapstreaks, they tweeted out that they were working on it. That’s not bad at all, in fact it’s good communications practise. Where the problem arose, though, is when people started noticing an auto-reply had been set up, and quickly ganged together to start gaming the system. There were many funny tweets prompting the same reply from Snapchat, over and over. The result was a loss of credibility for Snapchat.
This example illustrates the importance of having a real person watch over your social media, and the pitfalls of auto replies. They may simplify things, but they can also make it look like you just don’t really care about your audience … and worse, think you’re smarter than them.
- A scheduling fail by the burger giant McDonald’s in 2017 is my second example. We have talked before about the importance of care and attention when you’re scheduling your social media using a platform like Canada’s Hootsuite, which is extremely useful. However, McDonald’s accidentally tweeted out placeholder content saying “Black Friday ****Need copy and link***,” which was then appropriately and savagely trolled by competitors (namely Wendy’s).
What this example points to is that no copy is better than bad copy, so ensure to edit, edit, and edit your social media posts.
- In the same vein as the McDonald’s gaff, Corvette posted a Facebook ad in 2017 offering up a Corvette for a cool $15,000, which is obviously just plain wrong considering a base model is usually well over $50,000. If someone had wanted to use the ad to get a cheap Corvette, it’s likely they could have. Triple check ad copy so that you don’t end up losing out on a bunch of revenue due to a costly error that could have been avoided.
- In 2018, in the midst of reports of low wages and poor working conditions, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thought it would be a good idea to Tweet about his luxury vacation in Norway and his dog sledding experience. Business owners with personal accounts have to be sensitive – and cognizant – of the impression they are making, most especially in the midst of negative press.
- Everyone remembers the horrible video taken on a United Airlines flight where a gentleman was viciously dragged off the plane by security when he refused to give up his seat for airline maintenance workers. What made it far worse, however, was the airline’s response from its CEO, which many say was the worst possible reaction. Oscar Munoz sent out an email that essentially blamed the victim, and that email was promptly leaked, shared, and quickly became viral.
Although not necessarily about social media, the lesson here is to never, ever forget that what you write in an email or share on a social media platform can be easily screenshot and shared. Quite often, the best kind of communication is in person.
Emphasize Design Can Handle Your Social for You
Social media for business is tricky, which is why we recommend a trained professional handle it. One of the services we offer with our website designs and builds is social media marketing and management. We use social media to help, not hinder, and take pride in making you look good on all platforms.