4 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up in Social Media

Many people will tell you how to be wonderful and amazing on social media, but if you’re new to the game (or you’ve been in it a while but need a reminder) you need to first know what NOT to do.

4 Easy Ways to Kill Your Social Media Game

Twitter account following 1200+ with only 300 some followers

1. Follow Too Many People

This is a common problem among newbies to Twitter and other social channels. Your intentions might be great–“hey, I want to connect with as many people as possible”–but the smart path is to be cool and ease your way in. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as spammy, especially if you’re a brand.

What to do: Follow a good mix of about 25 to 50 accounts. Learn from them. Choose people or companies you’ll want to interact with and do so after listening for a little while. Post content that your target audience will want to read. You’ll start gaining followers, and as you do you can follow more accounts as well.

2. Self-Promote as a Rule

That’s a bad rule. Many marketing “experts” claim you should follow an 80/20 rule–80 percent of your posts should be other-centered, while 20 can be more self-promotional. If someone follows me and I go to their profile and see that their last 10 tweets were all about them, I do not follow (and I may even block them). You don’t want that to happen.

What to do: Approach interaction and postings with the understanding that this is a sharing world, and you’re dealing with human beings. In your in-person conversations, do you talk about yourself all the time? (God, I hope not!) What are topics of interest that your audience might like? Share news in your industry. Share other people’s tweets and posts. Share news about events in your community, especially if you’re a small business owner and rely on local residents for business.

3. Be Reactionary to Be Cool

Think before you post. Current events that have a popular hashtag may draw a lot of eyes to the conversation, and it’s great to have an opinion, but always remember that once you post, your words are online forever.

Brands have gotten into trouble thoughtlessly tweeting using hashtags related to hurricanes, government overthrows and more. Late last year, DiGiorno didn’t bother to find out that #WhyIStay was being used worldwide to talk about domestic violence and insensitively tweeted “#WhyIStay You had pizza.” Four minutes later, after being slammed by fellow tweeters, DiGiorno issued an honest apology: “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting,” and continued to apologized to individual tweeters through the night.

DiGiorno's #WhyIStay tweet

DiGiorno Apology tweet-a million apologies

What to do: Read and understand what the hashtag is about before you use it. Always think of how people will perceive your words before you make them public. Never respond in anger or with emotion–let the emotion settle first and then issue a thoughtful response. This is why I love a scheduling tool. If you schedule every post, even just 5 or 10 minutes ahead, you give yourself time to take a breath and reconsider what you said.

4. Feed the Trolls and Haters

Yes, you will get negative posts directed your way. It’s inevitable, even if everything you do is kind and right. See #3 above for a reminder as to why you should take time to be thoughtful in your response…if you decide to respond at all.

What to do: The best defense is to understand where the comments come from. I manage social media pages for clients, and when I see negative comments or replies to our posts, I first check out the profile of the person who commented. Does this person seem legit or are most or all of their posts attacking people and complaining (this is a troll/hater)? Do not respond to someone who indicates that they will not be reasonable and/or they do this for fun. Often, your fans will take care of these types of people. Do respond to someone with a legitimate complaint or concern, and take your time formulating a response. Sometimes a simple apology is all that’s needed. Other times, you can direct the person offline to have a real conversation and solve the problem. See these types of genuine negative comments as an opportunity to win over your customers. Focus on the desired outcome of the situation–do you want to be seen as right or do you want to make it obvious that you care about your customers?

There are many ways you can screw up on social media, but the best prevention is to act like a considerate human being. The more thoughtful you are online, the more ways you can succeed in social media and digital marketing in general.

Good luck! And if you need advice, you know where to come.

5 “Quick Wipes” for a Social Media Refresh

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last blog post. I’ve been very busy, and if you’re running your own business, you’ve probably been busy too.

When we’re super-busy with customers, our attention to other things can tend to drop off. Think about what a revolution Clorox wipes were to cleaning a bathroom or your kitchen. Don’t have time for the full scrub? A quick wipe-down will do. What you need is a way to clean up your social media channels just as quickly.

Cleanup of a Twitter page

5 Steps to a Quick Social Media Refresh

1. Create a new bio blurb.

Every social media channel has a bio or “about” section. If you’re still using the same one as when you first signed on, it’s way past time for a change. Create one new bio and expand, shorten or tweak to fit each channel. Make sure you link to your website or appropriate landing page and not some outdated promotional page.

2. Update photos.

Whether it’s your own profile or your company’s page, you need to keep photos fresh. For your brand, choose something seasonal. Don’t use stock photography for your cover photos, and make sure that any photos of employees or yourself are up to date. Also, make sure that your photos are the optimal size for the channel you’re placing it on. SproutSocial has an Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes to make this easier for you.

3. Clean up “Followers” and “Following.”

Trying to manage social media all on your own? It’s easy to forget to keep up with who’s following you and who you’re following. Unfortunately, fake and inactive users might make up many of your users. For Twitter, you can use tools like Tweepi, Friend or Follow, TwitBlock and more. For Google+, if you have Chrome, you can use their Uncircle+ extension, but if not, you’ll have to clean up your circles manually.

4. Start a conversation.

If you’ve been dormant for a while, look at what people have been talking about lately. Add to the conversation in a meaningful way. A quick look at my Twitter stream this morning turned up many mentions of customer service and customer-focused content. An easy conversation starter–what’s the best customer service you’ve ever received? If you ask for the worst, be prepared for someone to mention an unhappy encounter with your business.

You can also take what people are saying and create your own blog post or post a relevant photo or graphic and try and actively encourage people to engage. Offer incentive to do so, maybe a quick giveaway to get customers interested again.

5. Go back to your editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar–when used–is a wonderful tool that can help you in those time-crunched moments. Don’t have time to create an original blog post from scratch? Take one of your old ones and update it. Turn a relatively recent (or at least still relevant) SlideShare or other presentation into a blog post. Reshare old content that doesn’t sound old–you can always ask people, “What would you add to this list?”

The key to managing your social media accounts is to use editorial calendars and other tools that will help you manage your time. Mark time in your calendar for regular social media cleanup–one cleanup task a day or every other day will help you avoid having to do a major cleanup later when you just don’t have the time.

If you’re really having trouble keeping up and quality of your postings and interaction is suffering, it’s time to re-evaluate what channels you should be on. Hmm…maybe that will be my next topic here. Stay tuned!