10 Social Media Blunders Even the Big Brands Make

    by Carly Stec

    Date

    November 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    sandals-socksThis post originally appeared on Insiders, a new section on Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Insiders.

    While 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 10 social media setbacks equivalent to the sock/sandal combo (listed below) 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.

    10 Social Media Mistakes to Learn From

    1) Starting a Tweet With an @ 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'll only be seen by you, HubSpot, and your mutual followers. This is considered a reply. Include a period before a person's @ handle, though, and all of your followers will see your tweet in their streams. This is a mention.

    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 formatted 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 the business 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, Circles allow you to speak directly to specific groups when the content is geared for them.

    While Whole Foods is usually on top of its game when it comes to social media, the company is currently underutilizing Circles, as it's sharing all of its posts publicly, all the time:

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    While food spam is easy on the eyes, it’s likely that not all of the company's 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 its Circles to create more targeted posts.

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

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

    3) Going #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 its visual:

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    We suggest limiting the number of hashtags you use to about one or two, 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 this: Less is more. A great example of this is the hashtag Target has implemented to kick off the holiday season:

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    Target launched this Instagram campaign with the use of one, single hashtag: #MyKindOfHoliday, which encourages customers to interact with its brand by inviting them to show off its holiday decorations.

    This hashtag employment is not only less overwhelming than the one implemented by Home Depot, but it is also more 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.

    Toyota is one of many businesses underutilizing the potential of its LinkedIn page:

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    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's a shame it hasn't seized the opportunity to enhance its identity with a quality banner image.

    Don’t make the same mistake.

    Conversely, The North Face saw an opportunity to highlight its 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 the company's product in an interesting way and invites people to take a closer look.

    5) Having Pin Boards With No Descriptions

    Attracting 1,090 visitors per minute, it appears that Pinterest is a platform with unmatched marketing potential.

    While many businesses have started 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 page's 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 toward 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:

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    In fact, 7 out of its 11 boards lack 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 its board descriptions:

    kuno9

    The retailer filled its blank space with a tactful description of the board’s contents and incorporated an opportunity to note its 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 its fair share of commotion. So much so, that hashtags are the subject of two of the faux pas in this roundup. 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 it 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 its unrelated spring furniture collection, it 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, but it also dilutes the validity of lead generation.

    7) Not Posting an Image With an Article on Facebook

    According to data from Zabisco, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. That being said, a lack of visual content will probably hinder your social media engagement and take away from the value of your written content.

    Anytime 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 toy manufacturer Mattel took to Facebook to share with its fans that Hot Wheels were being inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, the company 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 its 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's or page’s subject.

    While it isn't really a huge deal at all and isn't technically a blunder in all situations, because of this inclusion, that means there may not be a need for some companies to include an additional URL in the written section of your update.

    Having said that, this extra URL could prove worthwhile for some businesses. Conduct an A/B test to see if your Facebook posts garner more clicks with the extra URL or without. Then you can more accurately determine if you ought to be including the extra link or not.

    Here are a couple of examples of posts with and without the bonus link.

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

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    Meanwhile, ESPN has consistently posted its links to Facebook without the URL in the actual content.

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    So it really depends on if the analytics show it's worthwhile to keep that extra link in there, but we still advise that if it's not really needed, avoid using the bonus URL -- it's often just fluff text that just isn't needed.

    9) Mixing Business With Pleasure on Twitter

    Yes, it's plenty fine to post some business-related tweets from your Twitter account that you also use for your own personal tweets (as long as you're keeping it clean, of course). However, this rule is different for brands themselves as well as people like social media managers and executives.

    The main reason there's a need for this separation between business and personal tweets is simple: You don't want to post something that has little or no relevance to your products, services, or brand and that your Twitter followers don't really care to hear about.

    Even when companies do only post business-related tweets from their accounts, it's still possible for some mistake tweets to get by. Just take a look at this example from Microsoft:

    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 its best in terms of damage control by explaining that the tweet was intended for one of its employees' 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 itself in this predicament, take note of how Red Cross handled its Twitter mix-up:

    kuno16

    When the employee that manages the organization's Twitter account accidentally posted this message, it followed it up with an appropriate, humanizing response by tweeting: "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

    Data from evolve24 reveals that out of 1,298 U.S consumers who publicly complained to a company via Twitter, only 29% of them received a response back.

    Meanwhile, LiveOps reports 85% of consumers feel that how a brand handles issues on its website or social channels is a good indicator of its quality of support.

    We're 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 are having trouble keeping pace with the influx of customer engagement.

    When our Marketing Director, John Bonini, reached out to inquire about an order he placed for custom guitar picks (from a company we won't name) weeks prior, he felt the disappointment of the 71% of Twitter users who've complained to a company and never heard from them. He was told the order was still "in production," well after his order.

    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 the company's inadequate customer service, he sent out a tweet to the company, calling them out for the delayed order.

    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.

    A prime example of a company that helps its customers when needed is Zappos. The company is quickly gaining a reputation for excellent customer service because it's learned to address comments, complaints, and concerns rather than cast them aside.

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    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 These Errors?

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

    By avoiding these 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.

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