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What Should You Avoid In Social Media?

John Waghorn

by John Waghorn on 17th February 2012

Time and time again we hear about the benefits of businesses and companies logging on to social media profiles in order to start engaging with their audience. Admittedly, this isn’t a bad thing and more so it’s inevitable that most businesses, if they haven’t already done so, will start using these sites fairly soon given the way the world is communicating.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the big three; as of February 2012, Facebook alone has more than 845 million active users worldwide. Overall, there are a huge amount of social networking sites out there today and it’s hard to recognise all of them when the big three are dominating the market with increasing user numbers.

Nonetheless, there are so many companies, brands and organisations that want to use social media, or perhaps in some cases they are forced to sign up in order to keep up with competition, current trends, and customer demand. Whatever their intentions, sometimes we lose sight of the idea behind ‘social’, and as a result it’s important to highlight the things that you should avoid in order to get the most out of your profiles. If you don’t learn how to use social sites properly, your Internet marketing campaigns could suffer and this can result in serious ramifications.

When you take the word social out of the context social media, a phrase that we throw around all of the time without considering its meaning, you can see that these platforms are there for you to interact with your customers, help with their issues and questions, and engage with your circles to build brand awareness. To have a real effect you should only place content that will interest your target audience; as this is how you will generate more followers, improve traffic flow to your site and, hopefully, boost conversions. So what should you avoid?

Not Responding or Reacting Negatively

Not everyone will be happy with what you have to offer. People use social sites as a place to vent their frustrations when they have been treated badly or received poor or inadequate service. According to a recent Infographic by Zendesk, 62% of customers are looking for a greater level of support through social media.

Due to this, there may be times when you are sign into your account and notice that someone has posted negative comments about your company. In this instance, make sure you that you respond but don’t react negatively. You wouldn’t expect to ring a customer services line, tell them what you are unhappy with, only for the person on the other end of the line to go quiet and avoid the question or tell you that you’re wrong. The same thing should not happen for your social sites.

Ultimately you can really damage your reputation if someone is posting a continuous stream of negative comments without hearing anything back from the company about how they are trying to resolve the issue. What’s worse is the previous messages could be viewable on the profile wall, adding more fuel to the fire.

Be responsible, apologise, and then take action to resolve the problem. Rewarding customers is one way of maintaining loyalty, so you could offer them discount on your products as a way to resolve the situation. Alternatively, you could offer your services for free as a one off gesture to that person. Think carefully about how you can help your customers so that they continue to use your services.

Constant Updates

Too much promotion can cause your customers to lose interest. If you are constantly updating your status then they are likely to switch off or even stop following you. Remember you are human, so try to not always post content that is solely work related. Use it as a platform to tell people what you are up to or ask a question to encourage feedback, but stagger your messages so that you are not updating every ten minutes.

Not Maintaining Your Profile

If you’ve set up your accounts then great, but it’s no good just sat there if no one is keeping an eye on it and maintain the content to keep it fresh. If a potential customer asks a question and does not receive a response then they are likely to look elsewhere or give you a negative comment. People want information and they want it fast, so always have a member, or a selected group of your team, taking on this responsibility to ensure that there is two-way communication between you and your customers.

Keeping Customers in One Place

Mix it up and merge your points of contact with customers. Don’t just keep Facebook fans on your Facebook page, encourage them to add you on other profiles so that you build greater exposure. This is beneficial if you start using one site more often than another for a short period of time, as the customers won’t miss out on relevant information that you have posted. Build, engage, and encourage a wider active audience for each profile you have.

Mixing Accounts

This can be very damaging and also embarrassing depending on the content, but you should never mix your accounts. Your business profile is for business purposes and so you should always check that you aren’t posting a message that was intended for your personal profile onto your business account. This could be a mistake that you later come to regret, so keep your profiles separate.

Social media can be very effective when used in the correct ways, so always consider what you are looking to achieve, and more importantly look out for your customers as they are important people. Use these platforms responsibly and always consider the consequences of your actions as you don’t want to end up with a PR disaster on your hands.

John Waghorn

John Waghorn

John works as a Content Marketing Executive at Koozai. With previous experience in PR, he helps the team by writing a range of client content including press releases, guest blog posts and website copy. He is also a regular contributor to the Koozai blog.


  • Pritesh Patel 17th February 2012

    Great post. Good advice for those who need to know what to avoid rather than constantly hearing how to do it.

    Couple of additional ones:

    1) Avoid giving sole management of your social profiles to the Marketing Assistant. The Marketing Assistant unfortunately may not have the knowledge, authority or confidence to communicate in real time to your audience. Social Media requires a team and multiple processes.

    2) Avoid dwelling on the whole social media ROI thing. Before you question the ROI of social media, try working out the ROI of having carpet on the floor of your workplace first. Once you have done this, commence with working out the ROI of social media. At least have objectives and goals, but don’t dwell on £££.

    Reply to this comment

  • John Waghorn

    johnwaghorn 17th February 2012

    Thanks for your comments Pritesh. Exactly, there’s always advice on how to set up your profiles and what you need to do, but less advice is passed on about what to avoid, so I thought it would be a useful post.

    Of course, social media should be managed overall by someone who has more experience in this field, and by someone who knows how to handle the potential pitfalls or negative implications should they happen. Although, there’s no harm in having someone monitor and maintain profiles, as long as they inform their colleagues and management when something negative appears.

    It takes time to build your profiles and create a following, and part of the experience is learning what works best for your company when it comes to engaging with your customers, so you have to be patient.

    Reply to this comment

  • Dean Marsden

    Dean 23rd February 2012

    Excellent points John. I see so many businesses failing at all of these, not just one or two of them.

    Pritesh makes a good point about delegating the social media to a junior who may know their way around Facebook, Twitter, etc but does not have the knowledge or experience to deal with negative comments or publish worthwhile updates.

    Reply to this comment

  • John Waghorn

    johnwaghorn 23rd February 2012

    Thanks Dean. If people are going to engage in social media for the first time then I think it’s important they are made aware of what could happen, just so they are cautious when interacting. Most people shouldn’t have any major issues when they are engaging in social as long as they use a bit of common sense too.

    Reply to this comment

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