Social Media10.17.13

Dear Brands, Please Talk With Me (Not At Me): Social Media Tips For Businesses


I hate social media accounts whose pages look like a collection of the brand’s billboards. I won’t name names, but you know the ones – post after post after post of “Why Our Company/Product/Service Is Awesome,” and never anything else that might be useful to the brand’s target audience.

Your fans like your company’s Facebook page and follow your brand’s Twitter account (and are linked to everywhere else you are) because your company/product/service – we’ll just go by “you” from now on – because you solve a problem for them. You make them happy, or more comfortable, or more secure. You make their day easier, you make tedious tasks more efficient, or you provide nothing more than something that results in the consumer’s laugh – and that’s enough.

Your fans aren’t linked to your social accounts just to hear about you. They know (or at least, think) you’re interesting. That’s why most of them have followed you in the first place. But if you seem to only want to talk about yourself? Your fans are going to stop paying attention. We’ve all had that acquaintance – maybe the first “friend” you met in college until you realized they were kind of conceited (anyone else have that experience? Just me?).

You’ve set up your brand’s social media accounts because you’ve heard the stats that tell you to do so. By March 2013, 15 million other businesses and organizations had as well. But now, all you’re doing is talking about yourself.

Let’s fix that.

Common Social Media Management Errors Made By Businesses

You can create a branded social media account, but if you don’t take care to use it wisely, it will not only be a waste of time – it might even hurt your brand in the long run.

What are some of the things you might need to correct?

You aren’t being responsive.

You posted a clever trivia question, but seven fans’ answers and eight hours later, you haven’t responded to share the correct answer, congratulate the people who got it right and thank all the participants. That would never happen at trivia night!

A potential customer asked a question, and you didn’t respond. Maybe you don’t know the answer and you need time to get the proper information. Did you tell the person that? You wouldn’t just walk away from a customer trying to ask you a question face-to-face. Don’t turn a blind eye to people who are requesting information from you.

You’re ignoring complaints. Someone is pretty mad at you because they say you missed a deadline or messed up their order. Others can see these complaints. Are you going to let it appear you don’t pay attention to customer feedback? That you don’t try to right wrongs? You might not be able to make this particular customer happy – but you can show the rest of the people looking into your brand that you pay attention, and you’re willing to respond and try to make things better.

You aren’t being helpful.

When you only talk about yourself, you’re not providing your audience with anything they need to read anymore. You’re making the assumption that they only want you to solve their one issue. But could you provide other insight? If you’re a health product, can you provide nutrition and fitness information? If you’re a product that provides an efficient way to get a complex task done, can you share articles about other ways employees can make their days more productive?

You aren’t engaging in the conversations of others.

You’re talking, but are you listening? There are conversations going on relevant to what you are doing. People have concerns, wants, needs – are you paying attention? Public conversations on social media provide plenty of insight valuable to you, if you’re willing to make the effort to look for it.

This week, Patrick and I were discussing standing desks, and how we probably spend too much time sitting. Not one, not two, but FOUR relevant companies chimed in (I’ve included only the most relevant tweets, whole thread here).

UpDesk is watching for relevant conversations, and you know what? Steelcase is paying attention to its mentions.

We love brands that show a little personality. I’d started telling friends about this quirky Twitter banter, so you’ll see new names involved – UpDesk comes back with its five-year plan.

Great. And while these two companies were bantering? VARIDESK™ was telling us what differentiates their product from the competition.

It was fun. It was clever. It had us all talking about standing desks. You can do this as well – just don’t be creepy. DON’T be pushy.

One last thing. When you start talking about things other than yourself? Be relevant.

EVERYBODY LOVES KITTEN AND PUPPY PHOTOS! But they aren’t relevant. They’re easy ways to get likes but they do nothing to support your brand’s messaging.

This goes for talking about sports, music and movies most of the time. No need to post things like, “Who watched The Emmy’s last night?” if you’re a company that sells furniture.

Chat with me. Make it a two-way conversation.

Are brands talking at you, not with you? What other social media tips would you give businesses? What problems are you seeing?