Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and the like can be fantastic for businesses looking to generate new leads, satisfy customers, increase referrals, reduce marketing costs and much more. As such, they need to be part of any marketing and public-relations campaign, no matter the industry.
However, it’s important to note that all of the great work you do on social media can be upset if you don’t go about creating and managing your posts in the right way. In fact, social media bloopers can cause a company harm if they’re not handled with care.
While there are numerous steps you can take to recover from a social media disaster, it pays to think about ways to avoid them in the first place.
Read on for some tips that you can follow today so that you enjoy the benefits of social media without potential train wrecks.
Keep control of your accounts
Asking your employees to write posts and release updates on social media sites can be beneficial for marketing and PR purposes. Employee blogging can save you time, increase the brand personality you convey online and boost authenticity. However, you should maintain control over your company’s accounts at all times.
Many organizations are left in the lurch when staff members assigned to social media accounts leave the company and take login and user information with them. According to Marcus Arken, founder and CEO of ACalculator, “One common mistake is setting up social media profiles using personal email addresses, which are locked or deleted once an employee leaves, causing issues with access. Worse, some organizations have had disgruntled former employees hijack social media accounts to share anger or opinions in a public forum.”
HMV found out the hard way when it fired hundreds of employees and forgot to change its Twitter password first.
To stop these issues from occurring, you must ensure that all social media accounts are set up using a general company email, rather than a personal contact email for a particular worker. For example, you could use an “email@example.com,” “admin@” or even “socialmedia@” email address for longevity.
Never give only one person total control over the accounts and always change all passwords immediately when anyone with access exits the firm.
Set policies for social media posting
While social media posts provide a wonderful opportunity for marketers and PR people to distribute regular content, you should never publish posts in too much of a rush—potentially dangerous mistakes can happen.
A simple typo or lack of punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence to something very different and potentially inflammatory, and a hastily composed message that you think is capitalizing on a trend or popular hashtag could backfire if you don’t understand the story surrounding it. Brands are frequently criticized on social media for tone-deaf social media posts.
To guard against this, put a specific plan in place for how social media posts will be generated and policies on what will and won’t be allowed. This will ensure that even if you have multiple people posting across accounts, consistency is kept and problems avoided.
Posts should be read over carefully before being published, with attention paid to spelling, grammar, punctuation, links (make sure the links are not broken and pages linked to are not offensive), images added, people or organizations tagged and hashtags and keywords used.
Users need clear instructions on what is not tolerated on social media sites (including language, topics, tone, images and retweet rules), as well as guidelines on keeping the brand personality and look consistent.
Your social media strategy should be clear on how often posts are made and the timeframe in which customer questions or complaints should be addressed.
It is wise, too, to put an escalation plan in place. This will allow you to decide, ahead of time, what steps must be taken if negative comments are posted about the brand or its products and services. Consider the types of comments that need immediate response to nip issues in the bud and what comments may be best left ignored.
Bear in mind that you can actually often use customer complaints and comments on social media sites to your advantage—responding swiftly and helpfully to clients who have mentioned an issue or worry, shows a high level of customer service and knowledge. Fast, helpful response builds loyalty with the complainant and anyone else watching.
A well-handled social media complaint is often the stuff of legend—the best type of authentic PR, leading to increased referrals and glowing testimonials.
Know the limits of automation
Lastly, be aware that while there are many terrific applications and programs that can help you automate your social media marketing and advertising, tech has limits.
For example, if you set up posts in advance, remember that things can change or events can happen that could make the message poorly timed or obsolete. As such, you can’t simply sit back and forget about your scheduled posts; instead keep a close eye on what will be published each day and ensure that it stays relevant and sensitive to happenings in the world.
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering in the suburbs of Orlando. She is a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Follow her on Twitter: @SheriSaid.
Image courtesy of MangoStar_Studio/iStock.