6-Faux Pas to Shun in any Social Media Campaign

How small businesses can spurn social media missteps. 6-lessons learned from America’s leading brands for a successful social media marketing (SMM) campaign

As seen on the pages of Facebook and Twitter, high efficiency social media is all in the content, execution and brand continuity. These virtual interactions substantiate consumer loyalty. Comparable to the branding damage a gauche advertising campaign can render, a similar ethos applies to social media marketing (SMM).

Some of America’s iconic brands serve as the foundation of tactical social media marketing. Applicable to a small business or any-sized entity, a well-balanced SMM campaign has the capacity to propagate online cohorts. The magnitude of social media hinges on connecting with the target audience; and subsequently, those customers serving as an organic referral source.

As the internet is rapidly becoming a beacon for the pernickety consumer, armed with an arsenal of review sites (in example: as Yelp, Angie’s List), loyalty is an invaluable commodity. Using positive and negative examples of effectual social media marketing, here are six blunders a small business should avoid making in SMM.

NEVER: Disregard customer service.

At Smart Blogs, author, Andy Sernovitz describes how Delta Airlines applied social media marketing to transform its reputation. Amid consumer complaints regarding exorbitant airfares, luggage fees and customer dissatisfaction plagued the Atlanta-based airline carrier.

Mr. Sernovitz emphasized that Delta’s interaction with its passengers integrating social media, enabled the major airline carrier to manage its reputation, resuscitating an infected brand into a trustworthy, consumer conscientious name in air travel.

Delta gave its customer service representatives the autonomy to manage travellers’ questions via social media 24-hours a day. The tenet is to sustain interactive communications. Also, incorporate consumer feedback to improve product offerings, enhancing the experience with the brand.

DON’T: Initiate idle chatter.

Appeal to each unique target market. Consider the customer, client or prospective new consumers’ interests. The crux of social media marketing is to attract, retain and cultivate new consumers and clients. Segment content to suit each social network’s distinctive audience.

Some brands apply social media, using advertising speak. This tends to repel and defeat the purpose of social media marketing. Consumers, who religiously use Twitter and Facebook, are irresponsive to such marketing malarkey.

Instead, a smorgasbord of topics- discussing current issues, providing useful information and offering loyalty reward programs, as well as other engaging multimedia scores the most “friends” and “followers.”

Gap’s Facebook and Twitter social media pages portray a precise prototype of the well-rounded SMM campaign. Consumers are privy to new fashion trends, video links on YouTube and exclusive, consumer-centric offers.

In major markets, such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Gap is using social media sites, Facebook and Twitter to announce locations of a roving food truck, aptly dubbed Pico de Gap truck. The global clothier’s friends and followers have to check Facebook and Twitter for the vehicle’s whereabouts to score tacos and giveaways. At the food truck, consumers, who show a same day proof of purchase from Gap, receive a free taco.

DON’T: Bypass social media employee guidelines.

The International Labor & Employment Group at Proskauer Rose purports that approximately 75 percent of its poll participants were companies, incorporating SMM with a traditional advertising and marketing strategy.

However, Proskauer’s social media poll results illustrated an incongruity among the 120 employers’ internal guidelines and employee misuse of social networking. Case and point, survey data indicated that 40 percent of its respondents incurred an employee misconduct scenario involving social media networking. Paradoxically, only a quarter of those organizations institute an employee policy.

In fact, The Coca-Cola Company’s social media policy serves as a template for defining appropriate employee behaviour.

DONT: Neglect loyalty programs and NEVER fail to deliver on offers.

Starbucks announced in a press release and on its company blog, the return of ‘Starbucks treat receipts’. The clever loyalty program, which rewards morning customers a $2 beverage discount later in the day, is a brainy approach to secure consumer allegiance.

The disconnect is that some customers complain that not all coffee chains are recognizing the offer. Meanwhile, the moderator of Starbucks’ blog post on receipt treats doles out a cookie cutter response instructing consumers to contact ‘the customer care team’.

Neglecting to follow-up and a lack of clarity represent a nemesis to any SMM campaign. Additionally, this social media networking gaffe can cost a small business, merchant or any-sized entity loyal customers. This misstep also exemplifies the essentialness of brand continuity across all channels of the social media landscape.

NEVER: Take security for granted.

The Ponemon Institute issued The Second Annual Cost of Cyber Crime Study, emphasizing the relevance of cyber-attack prevention. Research showed that average cyber-attack costs exceed more than $400,000 in losses, consuming a minimum of 18-days to resolve. Findings from other reports demonstrate a link between security breaches via mobile devices, social media sites (Facebook) and the company network.

BY NO MEANS: Respond passively to crisis communications.

Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A are two examples of how to use and not use social media during a publicity crisis.

In January 2011, gossip blogger, Perez Hilton leaked that Chick-fil-A was sponsoring an antigay organization. Prior to the bad publicity, Chick-fil-A maintained a regular schedule of posting updates and tweets. But,after the “antigay” story turned into a public outcry, the fast food chain took a 48-hour time-out from communications.

In an article titled, “Chick-Fil-A Needs a Lesson in Social Media Crisis Communication,” author, Jennifer Fish identifies three approaches for managing a brand’s reputation during a smear campaign. Most noteworthy, Ms. Fish highlights the criticalness of maintaining open communications during a crisis.

Around the same time, Taco Bell was accused of not using 100% beef in its tacos. The purveyor responded immediately via Twitter and Facebook. The company also released a video on YouTube to address consumer concerns.

Using social media, Taco Bell managed its reputation by addressing the allegations and shifting the focal point to debut a new menu item, supplying its followers with an 88 cents deal on the new menu item. In the end, the fast food chain won over existing and new customers.

Whether it’s a small business or a major conglomerate, social media marketing is effectual – as long as it consistently caters to the consumer’s point of view. This translates into establishing a voice, resonating a supportive friend, who initiates bilateral dialogue, shares exclusive offers, and new product releases.