The New Media team here at MetroStar Systems works on a wide spectrum of social media accounts. As we devised our plans of do’s and don’ts for our clients, we inevitably came across various examples that portrayed the “wrong” way of doing things. From out of touch, cringe worthy posts on Facebook brand pages, to nonsensical dribble spouted on Twitter feeds, our team not only became purveyors of social media: We became knowledgeable critics of content within the field as well. As small businesses strive to make a presence on recently ascended social networks, many commit classic mistakes in their methods and hinder the potential of increasing their popularity without even knowing it. Our team at MetroStar discussed a few of the major pet peeves that followers may come across and the ways that brands can rectify their errors. This week we’ll focus specifically on Twitter and how a mere 140 characters can alter the future prospects of your business, for better or for worse. Learn how to avoid Social Media Mistakes:
1. Don’t Become a Chirping Echo Chamber
After creating an account and following all the feeds that seem relevant to your business, it’s easy to get caught up and re-tweet every single thing that you deem noteworthy. Many brand accounts provide these informative tweets to their followers with the hope that these useful tidbits will lead to an even greater following in the future. These brands should be wary though, as their followers are more likely to follow the account that has been re-tweeted rather than the brand that you’re running. Instead of re-tweeting, at the very least try coming up with your own original blurb about the content, even if you still provide a link to a page that is not of your own to give credit where credit is due. Better yet, attempt to come up with completely original content in the first place. The more original and relevant your content is, the more likely your account will garner re-tweets from followers. It takes practice, but it’s the safest and most efficient means of building your account with a sense of integrity. If you keep at it, while maintaining a strict standard for quality, people will start listening sooner or later.
2. Don’t Tweet as if You’re Marooned on an Island in the Ocean of the Internet
While Twitter is an effective medium to provide information to your followers, gaining your initial following should be supplanted with the help of other social networks and blogs. Whether it’s a blog on your company’s website, or simply a Facebook brand page, always try to build your presence across the internet from one network to the other. Don’t be afraid to make some posts and content exclusive to a struggling social network account, while linking to that account from another network that has a greater, more sustainable following. If you leave your Twitter account isolated from the rest of the online world, you’re abandoning a substantial amount of potential followers that could be attracted to your feed.
3. Don’t Avoid a Dialogue with your Followers; Encourage One
Once your brand has a decent number of followers on Twitter, you may encounter some of them asking you questions or making comments directed at your feed. This is always more likely to occur when you are creating original content that facilitates an avenue for interaction. Responding to questions and directed tweets is a key towards building a reputable account. When composing a response, remember to be genuine and direct with your answer. Sidestepping questions or providing a plastic acknowledgement of a follower’s tweet can be damaging in the long-run. It is imperative that your Twitter brand page avoids a robotic or smug tone. The last thing a follower in this world of social media wants to see or hear is a response in the tone of a long, drawn out customer service call to a major cellular phone company or satellite TV provider. They came to your feed to avoid that disservice and by giving them the same inappreciable response, they may end up avoiding your feed and entire brand in the future.
4. There’s Nothing Wrong with Following the Little Guy
When compiling the list of Twitter feeds that your brand follows, don’t be afraid to follow some of the smaller accounts that may be interested in the field relevant to your brand. If you catch a decent tweet from one of these accounts, seize the value of re-tweeting it. Providing everyday users with a megaphone for their voice not only gives respect to the ones tweeting, but it also shows your followers that relevant and genuine content is appreciated and will be noticed. If all of your re-tweets (which should still be minimal in number compared to the rest of your posts) come from major feeds, then you’re neglecting the true grassroots aspect that Twitter provides. Always make sure you check the feed of the casual user before re-tweeting, as you might as well assume the rest of your followers will do the same after seeing the post.
5. Don’t Fall Asleep at the Wheel
One of the most important tips for maintaining a Twitter account is to keep up on current events and monitor relevant feeds. I’m not saying that your brand account should be tweeting every 15 minutes with new information, but with the use of Twitter apps like HootSuite or TweetDeck, one can easily monitor trends in an organized fashion. If those apps don’t suit you, try typing their names into your favorite search engine with “alternatives” added at the end of the query to discover other similar apps. Falling behind on trends and topics can lead to irrelevant tweets about articles that were popular three days ago. While three days isn’t a long time in the real-world, it’s practically a lifetime in the relentlessly updated world of Twitter. If your brand takes advantage of the pre-scheduled tweets feature, these previous tips hold even more bearing towards maintaining your accounts reputation. In the past couple of weeks there have been two examples of automated tweets that received a hefty amount of criticism from their followers.
First, the Starbucks Ireland page mistakenly asked its followers what makes them proud to be British. Many Irish followers responded with harsh comments, at times with blatant profanity and others laced with seething, dismissive sarcasm. The second mishap occurred on Saturday after a tragic stage collapse at a Radiohead show in Toronto that took the life of a drum technician and injured others. The promoter of the event, LiveNation, sent out a tweet notifying fans that the concert would be cancelled. Yet, only thirty minutes after this announcement an automatic tweet was sent out by the same account asking fans to share their Instagram photos to create an album commemorating the show. The error led to an immediate backlash of tweets directed at LiveNation for their insensitivity and cluelessness concerning the situation. For internationally known feeds such as Starbucks and LiveNation, these mistakes are ugly, though their brands will no doubt survive the ensuing PR storm. However, for smaller businesses that are attempting to build a following, gaffes such as these could cause catastrophic damage to a brand’s public image.
In short, as long as your brand is creating original content, connecting with your audience, utilizing other social media platforms and constantly keeping up to date on trends, you’ll be in a much brighter position than had you done otherwise.