Social media is arguably the most powerful tool at a company’s disposal when it comes to reaching out to a new potential audience and increasing brand awareness. In fact, around 89% of businesses who focus on social media have reported an increase in brand recognition. Unfortunately though, this is the PR advice of the idealist and it fails to highlight what steps need to be taken to ensure that the reverse doesn’t happen and you don’t isolate yourself from the very people you’re trying to access. Here are five social media indiscretions which could have an impact on your customer engagement and your reputation.

Not realising the importance of your profile

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but people do and your profile is effectively just that. Your profile, regardless of what network you’re communicating from,should be a reflection of your business. You need a photo, preferably a logo or something that symbolises your business, accompanied by a clear bio which tells your audience what it is you do. If it isn’t clear what your company is, no one is going to follow you. The worst type of bio is a non-existent one and it’s believed that around two thirds of twitter profiles don’t even have one which often says one thing to regular users – spammer. A well-constructed bio will not only get more followers, but also more targeted followers so it’s worth taking the time to think about it.

Thinking it’s a direct marketing tool

One of the biggest mistakes a business can make on social media is bombarding its audience with product promotions. It is not a sales channel. A potential audience wants to be engaged and interact with you on an almost personal level and not feel like they’re following a robot. Therefore it’s important you develop some kind of personality in your updates.You’ll find that if you start swamping your followers with just a steady stream of sales pitches, that you’ll soon only have a small pool of followers to pitch them too.

Ignoring audience interactions

The premise of social media is that it’s a two way conversation and it’s important that your business plays its part in this exchange. Customers expect you to be keeping tabs on you whether it’s a just comment, a question or even a complaint. Failure to respond to these will make your audience feel ignored and suggest that as a company, you don’t care. It’s no use just deleting negative comments as this can make the situation worse. While social media means that all your skeletons can be displayed publically, it also offers the opportunity to rectify them publically and this can provide a great PR boost.

That more followers mean more sales

Having lots of followers and likes is great because it makes you feel like you’re doing something right. However it’s important to remember that quality is definitely better than quantity when it comes to social media. Some businesses will do almost anything to get more followers, even to the extent of buying them, but followers don’t equal sales. It’s more valuable to have 5,000 fully engaged fans or followers who will interact with the business, than to have 10,000 followers who have no interest in your brand. This is why you should focus to build a strong, long term bond with your followers who are more likely to support your brand going forward.

Not committing to social media

A lot of businesses naively set up social media accounts thinking that it’s a simple way of increasing your brand awareness and one that requires very little effort. This is simply not the case. To fully reap the rewards of using sites such as Facebook and Twitter you have commit to them and ensure that they don’t go unattended.  An inactive account is far more damaging than not having one. Customers will assume that either you’ve gone out of business or that you just don’t care so it’s important that you update frequently and don’t ignore customer interactions.
Social media is increasingly important in modern business and it’s easy to fall behind your competitors, especially those who have bigger budgets and can dedicate whole divisions to managing their online presence. Avoid the mistakes above, and you’ll more than hold your own in this potentially destructive online battlefield after all social media is fun.
This was a guest post from Dan Whitelegg, journalism student at Leeds Metropolitan University

About Natalie Richmond

Account Executive at Prohibition PR.