There’s a right way and a wrong way to do social media marketing and a surprising number of brands are still doing it the wrong way and in a very public setting. One misstep could mean bad publicity for days or even weeks (we’re looking at you, United Airlines). With that in mind, here are a few social media marketing dos and don’ts to keep you on the right path.
Do prioritize substance over technology
The primary goal of social media marketing should be promoting brand awareness and customer loyalty. These are the things that are actually going to lead to greater profitability. But often, this isn’t the focus of social media marketing campaigns. Digital marketing managers often get caught up in making use of new technologies as they become available even when they don’t contribute to the overarching social media strategy. For an example: businesses that went out and bought 360 degree cameras when Facebook announced that it would support 360 video uploads. That’s not to say that using this particular feature is inherently bad. Just don’t let the substance take a back seat to the technology, it should be the other way around.
Don’t over-promote your products or services
Social media is a channel that should be more focused on advertising your brand and not any individual products or services. You can use the platform to announce new products or restock of a popular item occasionally but for the most part, use social media to show the world the bigger message behind your brand. For a good example, Dove’s “real beauty” campaign isn’t promoting any particular beauty product but it does further the brand’s message which in turn helps them sell product.
Do respond quickly to customers
Customers have come to expect a faster response time when they reach out to a brand via social media. Brands that go days without responding to customers will not be seen in a positive light. Some customer responses may be positive, others may have questions, and many will have an issue to complain about. These can come in the form private messages sent via the platform’s messaging application, comments on something posted by your brand, or you may be tagged in someone else’s post and asked for a response. You must be especially quick to respond to criticism but it’s also good to acknowledge praise. If you’re overwhelmed with private messages, you might look into developing a chatbot which can automatically respond and assist customers.
Don’t be opportunistic
A common social media strategy involves injecting brand messaging into trending conversations. This can work find when the subject that’s trending has some kind of connection to the brand. When nearly half of Americans’ social security numbers were hacked from Equifax recently, it was perfectly acceptable and understandable that brands in the cybersecurity and identify theft protection industries would chime in on the ensuing conversation. But some brands try to inject brand messaging into conversations that have nothing to do with them simply to get attention and to take advantage of what’s trending. This comes across as desperate and can really damage a brand’s image, especially when they try to capitalize on tragedy.
Do be humorous and have fun
Social media is a place people go to be entertained. If your content is good but not enjoyable, it won’t see as much engagement. Time and again we see that content that is humorous gets shared, liked, and commented on the most. All of this engagement with your content becomes free advertising so use humor to your advantage.
Don’t be overly political
The US is divided practically 50/50 with half being more liberal and half being more conservative. What this means is that any post that is political in nature is likely to offend half of the people who see it. There are exceptions to this rule. Some brands seem to attract people of one side of the political spectrum and political activism can actually work to their advantage. Chick-fil-A has got behind conservative movements and continued to do well. On the other side of the political spectrum Ben & Jerry’s actually names ice cream flavors after liberal political movements and does fine. Unless you’re certain your target audience will agree with your politics, leave them out of your social media campaign.
Do be authentic
The young people that inhabit social media are a savvy group. They can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Have a clear brand identity and stay on message and the battle is already half-won.