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How to fail at social media

This post is written by Kevin Hoffmann. Kevin is a Director in the Product Management group at Cision. He builds bridges between the Business and IT.  You can find him on Twitter: @kevin_hoffmann

After completing a handful of webinars outlining our Social Media Dashboard (yes, I link without shame), I have come to the realization that there is still a wide disconnect between those twitch-muscle Twitter people that live and breathe social media and those that have yet to dip their toes in the warm waters of Facebook and LinkedIn.

For your short-attention-span enjoyment, here is a list of items that will ensure you fail at social media.

Don’t Have a Corporate Social Policy. Larry in accounting should feel that it is OK to post to his personal blog how he spent the entire day:

  • Cooking the numbers (corporate version)
  • Shredding documents (Illinois-state version)
  • Working diligently and saintly for the greater good (Non-Profit version)

Also, make sure that there isn’t anything in place to prevent Larry’s overuse of Facebook, YouTube and personal e-mail like a corporate Internet policy.

Don’t Monitor Your Competition. It isn’t worthwhile to fix a problem in your product or service when someone complains about the same problem in your competitor’s product or service. If I owned a fictional fast food company named McArchies, for example, and I find out that my competitor’s coffee burned a customer and they are now being sued, it would not make sense to get warnings on the cups McArchies uses. Lightning does not strike twice, right?

Ignore the client compliments and complaints that don’t affect your business. Why address them? This business would be so much easier without those pesky clients. Make sure you do not acknowledge a compliment or address a complaint. The client wasn’t busy enough to post it to the world, I am sure they wouldn’t want any sort of follow-up.

Don’t look for problems before they happen. Five out of six ostriches, royalty not wearing clothes and horses with blinders agree that there is nothing wrong. Seriously, it is easier to deal with problems after they have swelled to the highest point of crisis. Remember, it is OK to be like the first person that saw and laughed at a miner bring a canary to work with him.

Keep the elevator music playing. Your client base likes phone queues. The more buttons pushed and automated semi-robotic voices that they get to deal with makes them more endeared to your brand. It doesn’t make sense to answer questions soon after they are asked online. You paid a lot of money for those phones systems; it only makes sense for your customer base to explore the breadth of your investment.

Spray and Pray. Make sure everyone sees your message, especially if you front a niche product or brand. Scattershotting the messages for your new SmackDown! Brand super-mega energy drink out to anyone that would listen including the AARP crowd, the hand-steady surgeon or the third-trimester mom-to-be is the best way to get people to support your product or service. Why seek out those that could become the evangelists and influencers you desire? How is it possible to target small and specific groups and get users believing in your brand?

Don’t be there when you are most needed. Someone might want a product comparison or are asking where they can find your specific services, but what fun is that? You spent all of this money on advertising so that your prospect can find you. It does not make sense to reach out to them proactively and ruin their sense of discovery. If your competitor gets to them first you probably did not want them as a client anyway.

I am sure there are still others ways that you can ensure certain failure at social media. (Plug them into the comments below.) Come back to this space and check out our next entry in this series: You, Your Buggy Whip and ROI: A Dream Deferred.

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Cision invites PR and marketing professionals to share their best practices and advice with the Cision Blog audience. To share your story, contact blog.us@cision.com

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