Most brands are trying really hard to succeed with their social media initiatives. They are trying new ways to engage - from receipts at checkout to advertisements in newspapers; brands are trying their best to connect with consumers on social networks.
In the pursuit of trying to get things done, some "top" brands have made mistakes. Here are some things to avoid, with no exceptions - things that I hope are rarely repeated.
Run specials all the time. In a struggle to keep the consumer engaged, brands tend to keep offering consumers special deals. This all-out effort to discount and lure tends to have a negative impact by devaluing the brand and devaluing the relationship.
Wait for people to come. Brands set up shop on social media sites and simply wait for the consumer to come and find them. They do little to engage via dialogue or by trying to market along other channels. They have simply set up shop and expect that it is good enough to drive consumers in.
Run contests and games all the time. Gamification is the new buzzword for engagement with many brands investing significantly in games to engage their consumers. Additionally, brands tend to run multiple contests, which results in severely diluting their engagement to conversion metrics.
Block negative feedback. Many top brands tend to either block or ignore negative feedback. If you put up a comment on their site they either take it down or have a defined strategy to push the bad comments as far down as possible. This strategy diminishes the value of the positive comments.
Launch press releases on social media. Do you pay attention to more than 300 characters or watch long video clips? Brands tend to forget the conversational nature of engagement on social media sites - short, interesting stories are a much better way to engage.
Wait 24 hours to respond. Some brands take a long time to respond because they only check "social feedback" twice a week. Other brands take a long time to respond because they have to get approval before they can respond. The problem is that if you take too long, the consumer will probably call your brand for an answer or move over to someone else.
Not connecting your channels. Always a classic with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Just two weeks ago, a major travel company sent two types of incentives - a gas discount card by email that shaved 10 cents off each gallon and a gas discount offer via social media that offered a five cent discount. It took a direct mail piece to fix the issue.
Snoop on and shock your customers. While it's OK for a brand to leverage "widgets" to track consumer behavior on social media sites, it's scary when the brand surprises these consumers with offers. A click on a social link led to a phone call by a cruise representative who unabashedly told me that he observed my behavior online.
Just roll along. Some brands feel that it's OK to reach a certain critical mass in social media after which their sites can just "roll along." The snowball can roll the wrong way and hurt brands.
Focus on "likes." A blind focus on driving up "likes" has led to the "like" button being devalued and resulted in significantly lower ROI.
"Wait" to get started. Believe it or not there are still brands, especially in the financial services area, that are waiting for the social media "fad" to end.
Social media can make a positive impact. Do not wait, do not focus on "likes," and please do not tell your fans that you know what link they clicked on at 11:33 a.m. Good luck with your social endeavors.
Until next time…
Sundeep is off today. This column was originally published on January 26, 2012.
Sundeep Kapur has been assisting organizations with their converged channel marketing strategies since 1990. From direct marketing to digital to converged, he is a passionate teacher who works with businesses across multiple industries, helping them to enable technology and services to brand, and personalize and speak to consumers more effectively.
He is an industry-recognized expert who has delivered keynotes, run panels, and delivered "relevant, inspirational, and outstanding" education for organizations around the world.
Sundeep is also an avid user of social media, having leveraged words, pictures, and video into a conversational digital book. His daily dose of best practices can be found at www.EmailYogi.com, where he has more than 1,200 articles on best practices.