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    November 14, 2013 // 1:00 PM

    10 Social Media Blunders Big Brands Make (And How to Avoid Them)

    Written by Carly Stec | @

    socks-sandalsWhile we know a bit more about marketing than we do about fashion, we do know enough about which faux pas to avoid.

    For example, I’m fairly certain that under no circumstance is it acceptable to leave your house wearing socks and sandals.

    While many of you may be nodding in agreement, there is a new breed of faux pas sweeping the social media scene that you may not be so in tune with.

    We’ve compiled a list of social media setbacks equivalent to the sock/sandal combo that have been committed by several big brands, proving no one is above suspicion. (not even us)

    While we’ve all misjudged the success of a marketing effort a time or two, the goal is not to dwell on it, but rather learn from our miscalculations and move forward.

    1. Starting a Tweet With a Mention

    To avoid looking like a rookie on Twitter, be sure that you are well-versed in the difference between a mention and a reply. For example, if you start a tweet with @HubSpot, it will only be seen by HubSpot and your mutual followers. This is considered a reply.

    Replies are commonly used when you want to reach out to someone to address something that may be relevant to them, but of no significance to the rest of your followers. If you use @HubSpot anywhere else in the tweet, you’ve got yourself a mention.

    This means that the tweet will appear in your Twitter stream, where all of your followers can see it. While it’s easy to confuse the two, this simple mistake can cost you an opportunity to share your tweet across a wider reach.

    With good intentions, our Senior Account Manager, Erica Dube, sent out this tweet expressing her excitement towards our company’s feature on the HubSpot blog:

     

    To her dismay, only our mutual followers with HubSpot could share in her celebration because her tweet was formated as a reply, rather than a mention. While we applaud Erica’s enthusiasm, we hope that her miscalculation brings to light how easy it is to muffle your voice on Twitter.

    To avoid this, we suggest inserting a period before the @ like IKEA did here:

    kuno1-9

    When replying to customers, IKEA was able to quickly transform a reply to a mention by starting the tweets with a period. This simple technique allowed them to to share their responses and suggestions with all of their followers.

    2. Failing to Utilize Circles on Google+

    One of the most valuable features Google+ offers is the ability to use Circles to segment your audience. Rather than address your audience as a whole all the time, the Circles feature allows you to speak directly to specific groups when the content is geared towards them.

    While Whole Foods is usually on top of their game when it comes to social media, they are currently underutilizing Circles, sharing all their posts publicly, all the time:

    kuno2-1

    While food spam is easy on the eyes, it’s likely that not all of their followers are the right fit for seafood stew suggestions. Perhaps this post, and posts like it, would be better received by a tailored Circle that targets Whole Food’s customers specifically.

    With this concept mind, Intel came up with a clever way to work with their circles to create more targeted posts.

    kuno3-1

    Knowing that conversion rates rely on their audience’s response to content, Intel recognized the  importance of pushing content that is relevant to their buyer persona’s needs and interests.

    Instead of pumping out the same information to all of their followers, Intel used photos to represent their categorized circles, and asked their followers to select the photo that paralleled their interests.

    3. Hashtag #Happy #on #Instagram

    Infiltrating Jimmy Fallon skits, Halloween costumes, Mariah Carey song titles, wedding reception photography, and bad graphic t-shirts, hashtagging has quickly turned into a cultural phenomenon.

    While we can’t dictate how hashtag-y you get outside the context of the Internet, we can offer you our suggestions for healthy hashtagging on networks like Instagram.

    Hashtags are helpful tools in terms of marketing because they allow Instagram to categorize images posted with each hashtag, making it easy to search for similar images.

    When it comes to attractive, quality images, Home Depot has nailed it (pun intended). Unfortunately, we can’t forgive the 12 hashtags they chose to go along with their visual:

    kuno4-1

    We suggest limiting the number of hashtags you use to about 1-2, and stay away from #anythingthatlooksremotelylikethis.

    While Instagram hashtags are encouraged to boost promotion, facilitate conversation, and ease searchability, hashing out too many becomes redundant.

    With that being said, our advice to Home Depot is: less is more.

    A great example of this is the hashtag Target has implemented to kick off the holiday season:

    kuno5-1

    Target launched this Instagram campaign with the use of one, single hashtag.

    #MyKindOfHoliday encourages customers to interact with their brand by inviting them to show off their holiday decorations.

    This hashtag employment is not only less overwhelming, but it is both humanizing, and visually interesting!

    4. Leaving Out a Banner Photo on LinkedIn

    In 2012, LinkedIn introduced banner images for Company Pages, which is similar to your cover photo on Facebook.

    Heading into 2014, many businesses have yet to recognize the marketing worth of this visual feature, leaving their pages looking dated and detached from their branding.

    The banner image provides businesses the chance to illustrate their unique message, and feature products or personal photos that reflect their company culture.

    Popular automaker, Toyota, is one of many businesses underutilizing the potential of their LinkedIn page:

    kuno6

    While the clean, minimalistic approach can sometimes be effective, the white space on this LinkedIn page is blinding.

    Considering Toyota’s product is so visually appealing, it is a shame that they have not seized the opportunity to enhance their identity with a quality banner image.

    Don’t make the same mistake.

    The North Face saw an opportunity to highlight their uniqueness by implementing this banner image:

    kuno7

    This is a great example of a strong banner image that tells the company’s story. The visual features their product in an interesting way, and invites people to take a closer look.

    5. Pin Boards with No Descriptions

    Attracting 1,090 visitors per minute, it appears that Pinterest is a platform with unmatched marketing potential. (Source: Social Media Today)

    While many businesses have acquired a Pinterest account, they are committing small-scale SEO crimes by not utilizing features like board descriptions.

    Board descriptions appear underneath each board title, providing a space to string together a sentence or two that describes the theme of the visual content within the board.

    In terms of On-Page elements of SEO, Taking a minute to fill out each board description and photo caption will pump up your search engine optimization.

    Remember, Pinterest is a search engine within itself, meaning you can work your way to the top of Pinterest in the same way that you would work towards front-page status on search engines like Google.

    We also suggest getting into the habit of saving images with a name that best describes the image, board, or your company. All of which will increase your ability to be found when search engines crawl your page.

    While they’ve got their coffee down to a science, we’ve caught Starbucks red handed in regards to board descriptions:

    kuno8

    In fact, 7 out of their 11 boards are lacking descriptions. Each of these empty boards is representative of a missed opportunity to increase SEO, attract viewers, and showcase personality.

    The key to successful social media marketing lies in the details, so don’t allow the particulars to stifle your businesses potential.

    Take note of how J.Crew flawlessly executed their board descriptions:

    kuno9

    They filled their blank space with a tactful description of the board’s contents, and incorporated an opportunity to note their stylist services.

    This board not only gives their customers a peek at what’s to come, but it opens up the floor for lead generation!

    6. Using Irrelevant Trending Hashtags on Twitter

    The introduction of hashtags has come with their fair share of commotion. So much so, that they are the subject of two of the faux pas in this round up. While "over hashtagging" is complicating marketing strategies, hijacking the wrong hashtag can convolute your business's message just the same.

    The contemporary furniture company, Habitat, raised some eyebrows when they blasted out several tweets containing insignificant hashtags in an attempt to steal a bit of their spotlight:

    kuno10

    While the tweets didn’t stop at #iPhone, we wish they did. Habitat went as far as calling on the Iranian election hashtag (#MOUSAVI) followed by a less than casual mention of #TrueBlood, in a desperate attempt to get noticed.

    When fellow tweeters realized that the company was enlisting the help of trending tags to promote their unrelated Spring furniture collection, they received an outpour of backlash.

    We advise businesses to steer clear of spam-style tweeting methods. Not only is it in bad taste to feed off the notoriety of trending hashtags, it also dilutes the validity of lead generation.

    7. Not Posting an Image for an Article on Facebook

    40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)

    Being said, a lack of visual content will probably hinder your social media engagement and take away from the value of your written content.

    Any time you post something to Facebook you are handed an opportunity to optimize your content with an image and increase the potential for commenting and sharing.

    When the toy manufacturing company, Mattel, took to Facebook to share with their fans that Hot Wheels were being inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, they neglected to include an image of this accomplishment:

    kuno11

    Inserting an image to accompany the link would have effectively increased the level of nostalgia-based engagement raised by the question: When did you get your first Hot Wheels toy?

    An image has the potential to create a social buzz, reinforce brand awareness, and create a more interesting visual landscape for your social media platform.

    So rather than release content that struggles to compete for attention, employ an image to do the work for you.

    We can’t think of anyone better to employ for this job than Ryan Gosling himself:

    kuno12

    While the plain text may have fallen victim to the scroll bar, we’re pretty sure the image didn’t.

    This is just one of many examples of how BuzzFeed manages to select images that speak to their audience, and incite engagement.

    8. Including a URL in Your Facebook Status

    When you share a link in your status update box, Facebook takes the initiative and generates a thumbnail image, and clickable description highlighting the article or page’s subject. As a result, there is no need to include an additional URL in the written section of your update as it no longer serves a purpose.

    When sharing a video of Maria Menounos hosting a Breakfast Skippervention, Kellogg’s double-dipped in terms of linkage:

    kuno13

    While this faux pas won’t destroy your reputation, it can be easily prevented. Taking subtle steps like this will increase your business's social media authority, and prove that you know what you’re doing.

    ESPN has proved their Facebook expertise by leaving out the links:

    kuno14

    While excluding a second link may appear nit-picky, it shows that you made a conscious effort to understand the way the platform works.

    So don’t fall into the trap-- take note any and all tricks of the trade that can increase your expertise, and set you apart from other businesses who are practicing less attentive methods.

    9. Mixing Business with Pleasure on Twitter

    Our professional selves and our personal selves are commonly very different beings. For example, there’s a good chance you’ve tweeted something to your personal account that would make you blush if your boss saw it.

    If you have both your professional and personal Twitter accounts linked up to your phone, you’re at risk of identity theft.

    We’re not talking about fraudulent behavior, but rather the off-chance that you could mistake one account for the other and get yourself into a predicament.

    A prime example of this was Microsoft’s 2012 Twitter slip up:

    kuno15

    This tweet was accidentally sent out from Microsoft’s account in response to liberal economist, Robert Reich who tweeted about his plans for the weekend: visiting his granddaughter, and sitting on a panel with Ann Coulter.

    While Microsoft did their best in terms of damage control by explaining that the tweet was intended for one of their employee’s personal Twitter accounts, the statement had already made its mark.

    By taking preventative measures like double-checking your posts, or avoiding negative tweets in general, you can protect your business's reputation and remain professional.

    In the event that your company does find themselves in this predicament, take note of how Red Cross handled their Twitter mix-up:

    kuno16

    When the employee that manages their twitter account accidentally posted this message, they followed it up with an appropriate, humanizing response.

    Following the mishap, they tweeted:

    "We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys."

    With the help of Dogfish Head, the rogue tweets snowballed into a something remarkable.

    A number of breweries and bars that distribute Dogfish Head beer turned the tweet into a promotion, offering a free pint of Dogfish Head in exchange for a Red Cross blood donation.

    A pint for a pint, now that’s good marketing.

    10. Sweeping Twitter Complaints Under the Rug

    Out of 1,298 U.S consumers who publicly complained to a company via Twitter, only 29% of them received a response back. (Source: Matriz Research)     

    29%?!

    85% of consumers feel that how a brand handles issues on their website or social channels is a good indicator of their quality of support. (Source: LiveOps)    

    85%?!

    We are having a bit of trouble making sense of these numbers.

    The quality of your business’s customer service across social media platforms can make or break your reach, reputation, and ROI.

    Social media has quickly become one of the most popular ways to connect with businesses, however it seems most businesses are having trouble keeping pace with the influx of customer engagement.

    When our Marketing Director, John Bonini, reached out to @steveclaytonic to inquire about an order he placed for custom guitar picks weeks prior, he felt the disappointment of the 71%.

    After several unproductive phone calls in which he attempted to track his overdue order, John was left wondering how long “in production” was going to take? Feeling frustrated with their inadequate customer service, he sent out this tweet:

    (cue the crickets)

    John’s tweet was left unanswered. Running out of time, he turned to one of their competitors, Pick World, who manufactured and delivered the picks to his doorstep in less than two days.

    Whether it’s fear of confrontation, inadequate social media monitoring, or lack of interest, businesses must learn to prioritize the acknowledgement of customer complaints if they wish to facilitate strong satisfaction rates.

    Zappos is quickly gaining a reputation for excellent customer service because they’ve learned to address comments, complaints, and concerns rather than casting them aside.

    kuno17

    When this customer was left with a bad taste in their mouth after experiencing some Zappos related trouble, Zappos not only responded, but also sent her a $20 coupon to remedy her dissatisfaction.

    Is There Any Coming Back From This?

    As you can see it is easy to botch a social media display every once and a while, which is why we recommend practicing a more mindful social media approach.

    By avoiding these ten social media blunders, you will find yourself with less need for damage control, and more time to make positive marketing strides.

    This is a guest post by Carly Stec, content marketing manager at IMPACT Branding & Design. Visit the IMPACT Blog for more content from Carly and the agency.

    Topics: Inbound Marketing Social Media

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