Important Small Business Social Media Fails to Avoid

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Important Small Business Social Media Fails to Avoid

Of course, you want to get on social media as a small brand. It’s a fantastic way to spread your brand and your message far and wide. You might even have something go viral and reach millions of people at little or no effort on your part (though that’s harder than you might think).

At the same time, if you screw up you can do a lot of damage to your brand. In fact, it can be so bad that it can actually destroy your business. And all it takes is an unguarded moment or a poorly considerate move.

To help you guard against that, here are some of the things you really need to watch out for as you’re working on building up your social media.

Taking advantage of tragedy

One of the biggest no-nos is to try and take advantage of other people’s empathy or tragedy. For example, after a tornado hits a coastal town and hundreds of people die, trying to use that to sell your brand.

This is just a horrible idea as it will almost always be interpreted as a calloused and cynical way to take advantage of somebody else’s misfortune.

Of course, you can make things even worse by not just being insensitive but also appear clueless. For example, one butcher in the UK decided to honor the death of Prince by selling purples sausages. This didn’t go down well at all. You see, Prince was a vegan.

Now, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to share your condolences or show your support for people. A heartfelt message can be well received. Just don’t turn it into a marketing attempt. Because though you might not see how it will be badly interpreted, that doesn’t mean it won’t be. And once it is, there is no putting that jinni back in its bottle.

Using it to spam your users

You might think it’s a good idea to send an automated message to a user when they send you a message or use a certain hashtag. You might want to think again. After all, people might end up sending several such messages to the same #hashtag or account and get incredibly frustrated with the constant reply messages they receive.

Even if they only get one such message, if it feels overly “salesly”, annoying and pre-generated that’s still often going to lead to a negative response from users. And the moment users dislike something you’re sending their way, you’re doing something wrong.

Forgetting the ‘social’ part of social media

Yes, you’re on social media with your company in order to push your brand and your products. You know that. I know that. Even your followers should know that. And yet, if you forget that social media is mainly about building networks of friends and connections, then you’re social media efforts are probably not going to amount so much.

People use social media for a lot of reasons, but for finding out what a specific brand is hawking could be pretty low down on the list (in fact, it doesn’t even show up in this top ten list). And if you’re not giving users what they’re looking for on their social media accounts, well then they won’t follow you to begin with and even if they do, will stop following you soon enough.

Here are the top four reasons people use social media from that same list mentioned above:

1. To stay in touch with what friends are doing

2. To stay up-to-date with news and current events

3. To fill up spare time

4. To find funny or entertaining content

As it’s hard (though not impossible) to position yourself as a friend, you should aim at 2 to 4. Share interesting news with them where possible and give them funny and entertaining content that they can use to fill up their spare time. That’s far more likely to build your brand than consistently pushing your products.

And then when you push your products, you’ll have a larger follower base and a higher engagement rate – which, in turn, will boost the actual reach your product posts have.

Note, you don’t need to produce all of the content yourself. You can often link to other people and companies. Even better, if you let these people know you’re linking to them you can even build up relationships, which can stand you in good stead down the line when you want to push bigger announcements out there.

Not engaging with customers

As I said earlier, social media is all about being social. That means that you don’t want just to publish content on your social media platforms and “satisfy” the reason people actually go on social media, but also that you need to engage with people.

If you’re lucky, that just means actually responding to people who show an interest in what you’re doing. If they have questions, you answer them. If they have suggestions, you engage with those and show that you’re grateful for what they’re saying.

If you manage to create an atmosphere in which people feel that your site isn’t just a one-way street, but instead a solid community, then they’re far more likely to participate themselves. If not, well, then they won’t.

For this reason, be sure to ask questions, offer polls, start competitions and do whatever else you can to draw people in.

Of course, you want people to actually engage with your questions because if they don’t, that can easily do harm to your brand as well. So, in the beginning, you might wanna ask the audience you know that will certainly provide you an answer, and reduce the potential risk.

Venturing into political minefields

There are a lot of places where, as a company, you shouldn’t venture, Those are some pretty dark places in which your efforts are easily misinterpreted, taken out of the context, with some seriously pissed off folks. Sometimes in hindsight, it will be obvious why they’re offended. Other times, you won’t even be able to tell why people are angry (and therefore can’t predict that they will be).

Some areas you really want to avoid are issues of race and sex – particularly if they’re related to minority groups and/or women. Here’s a good example of how not to do it. Vera Bradley, recently “explored” why it’s good to be a girl.

Some statements like, “That moment when a gentleman offers you his seat,” and “Being able to hang out with the boys but still be treated like a lady” did not resonate well with audiences.

Similarly, the recent Dove campaign where a black woman turns into a white one, was a poor choice by the brand – particularly as it went against the very brand image they’ve been trying to build over the last decade. It would be a little bit like paper writing help putting an ad out with poor grammar.

Promotions that aren’t

Promotions are often great. People love discounts on products – it’s all down to psychology. The thing is, it does need to be an actually interesting promotion if you’re going to get people interested. Even worse, if it’s too small instead of interesting people, you’re far more likely to offend them.

For example, Amazon tried to entice people to buy the PlayStation 4 by giving a promotion. But as the promotion was only worth 10 cents on a several hundred dollar devices, rather than generating positive publicity they got a lot of negative instead.

Generally, the rule should be if it isn’t at least close to 10% then you should probably refrain. One thing to note, people are very bad at math. This means that some promotions sound far bigger than other ones. For example, offering 30% off sounds like a much worse deal than ‘buy two get one free’. In truth, they’re almost the same offer. So use strategies like this to make your promotions sound even better.  

Mixing up your accounts

Be very careful who you give access to your company’s social media accounts. There have been a lot of cases where people thought they were posting things from one account and it turned out to be quite the opposite.

And as people will often say things on their personal accounts which can be incredibly damaging if they come from a company, that can be an absolute disaster.

The best thing to do is separate the accounts onto different devices so that the chance somebody will use the wrong account to post things is much reduced. Of course, this does mean that it will become harder to simply post replies and engage with customers if you’re not near the business device.

Alternatively, you can create different profiles for the different accounts on the same device. As long as they’re clearly marked in some way as different, this can be quite effective. 

Unfortunately, there are more ways to screw up at social marketing than there are to get it right. An equally big problem is that one mistake can undo years of hard work. And then there’s the problem that what may initially seem like something that isn’t such a big deal but it certainly can become one.

For this reason, you want to be really careful with your social media. Make sure not too many people have access and they understand the harm that different efforts can cause. It might also be a good idea to make sure that new responses and posts get checked by others before they get published. Yes, that does create some extra work, but sometimes a failsafe is all that stands between you and a (social media) disaster. 

About the author:  Ashley Kornee is a blogger and freelance writer. She always tries to write about ordinary things in a creative way.  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Cutting-Edge Scenes for Branded Content Marketing: Snapchat

In the flawlessly directed universe of social media, Snapchat seems like a cheeky underdog everyone’s quietly rooting for. With humble beginnings and a rather simple concept, this newcomer has started a long-awaited revolution in the community, and by the looks of it, it managed to return social media to its roots – to spontaneous, unsponsored and unedited online mingling.

According to Bloomberg, this platform now hosts 100 million active users each month, and brands, be they small or big, personal or corporate, are starting to realize that all the buzz is now happening right here, in the 10 second long stories of Snapchat.

Why Consider The Feat?

When contrasted and compared, leading platforms of the niche certainly showcase quite different potentials for brand promotion. Both Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram, have launched their business-friendly features a long time ago, thus becoming immense social media moguls when it comes to content marketing and brand-building.

Yet, the question remains – is it really what audiences want? Currently, a vast majority of users is engaging with big brands through these platforms simply because they have no other option. With Snapchat, things are a bit different.

Established in 2012, Snapchat was quickly classified as the new “sexting app” and mostly avoided by social media-savvy users. By the end of 2015, however, this platform had already welcomed a wide crowd of millennials, primarily, and both celebrities and big brands were quick to follow their target audiences.

Today, Snapchat is the next big feat for content marketers – devised as a community of a small, core audience tired of heavily edited perfection that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are based upon, this platform doesn’t make it so easy for brands to ride the gravy train.

So, why make an effort? For now, the numbers are clear – with 10 billion views every day, Snapchat videos are steadily winning the social media battle against Facebook’s 8 million. Furthermore, the current number of users downloading the app is actually surpassing the number of those downloading Twitter. With 9000 snaps shared per second and the current value of $16 billion, Snapchat is where we’ll all be heading soon.

What All The Fuss Is About: Snapchat’s Authenticity


As mentioned before, the idea behind Snapchat is a quite simple one – the app allows you to share 10 second photos or videos with your platform friends. Even though the app offers an exciting plethora of filters, stickers and captions, the unwritten rule of Snapchat is authenticity. Simultaneously, it’s what makes this platform different and appealing. Instead of perfect selfies and professionally shot campaigns, Snapchat content is mostly unedited and raw.

In addition to this, the platform functions on the disappearing principle, which means that everything you post is time-limited and will vanish quickly. The longest viewing time any photo or video has is 24 hours, and that complies only with a special Snapchat Stories feature that allows you to create a multi-fragment narrative out of everything you post during the course of one day.

Consequently, such an organic approach suggests immediateness and a fast pace of storytelling. And above all, creativity.

How to Conquer the Scene

Apart from authenticity, the Snapchat community respects a number of additional informal rules, all of which make this platform an exclusive one. Celebrities, influencers and brands are not given special treatment – to become a relevant member, you’ll need to make an effort, be creative and think fast. Here’s how some of the biggest brands are doing it.

1. Snapcodes


Converting your logo to a Snapchat ghost is currently the hippest thing you can do. Simultaneously, it’s the best way of building your following – by sharing your brand’s ghost, which functions as this platform’s version of a QR code, Snapchat users can scan your unique Snapcode and connect with your brand. It’s not only easy and convenient, but fun as well.

2. Branded Filters

Joining the Snapchat frenzy quite quickly, McDonalds and KFC were among first to launch their own branded filters. Whether a simple frame or an animated filter, these brand features have become a staple to personalized content creation on the platform. Recently, the possibility has been made even more creative with Snapchat’s Geofilters, available to users only within a set radius and customizable according to a given location or time. Quirky, effortless and amusing for Snapchatters, it’s user-generated content at its best.

3. Exclusive Teasers

What exclusive Comic-Con teasers are to publicly launched movie trailers, Snapchat’s 10 second videos are to professionally produced ads – an exclusive, never before seen hint of something great coming along that everyone wants to be the first to see. And since this platform is all about authenticity, you won’t have to bother with expensive production; instead, you can simply post a behind the scenes material of your newest product getting prepared for a big public blast.

4. Promotional Snaps

Just like product teasers, your brand’s newest offers, promotions and discounts can generate major buzz if transformed into snaps. The mere fact that Snapchat posts are pretty fleeting creates a whole new level of excitement and turns your campaign into a scavenger hunt. Once you post a snap of a discount, your platform friends can screenshot it and use it as a coupon. Given that they’ll only have a short period of time to do so can make your campaign a lot more engaging.

5. Interactive Campaigns


Instead of producing one-end promotional content, GrubHub is a successful Snapchat brand that knows how to make their campaigns engaging and fun, consequently earning the envious highest score of any brand on the platform. Using a Snapchat Story feature, for instance, GrubHub has invited their followers to snap back a food doodle, out of which 10 random snaps posted before 12 a.m. will win an award. Only one of numerous examples, this promotional campaign showcases just how opportune Snapchat is for building interactive relationships with your customers.

6. Everything User-Generated

For both users and brands, the pure beauty of Snapchat is that the majority of content created, posted and shared on the platform is user-generated. Branded filters utilize this advantage to the greatest extent, but Snapchat Story is a feature equally suitable for this type of advertising. Take Coachella festival, for instance.

While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provided an opportunity for Coachella to post mind-blowing and quite photo-shopped images to broadcast a bit of atmosphere from the site, Snapchat has made it possible for their brand to include plenty of authenticity. The whole coverage was delivered in the form of a Snapchat Story that used nothing but a montage of 10 second snaps posted by festival goers themselves.

When it comes to marketing, nothing has more potential than user-generated content – it’s how you gain social proof, build trust and entice new followers.

7. Snapchat Discover


Once you’ve built trust with your following, you can feel free to explore the platform’s newest brand feature, Snapchat Discover. Made as a paid location on the platform, this feature is perfect for content-heavy brands that always have more to say, share and offer. The key difference in comparison to Snapchat’s “authenticity” rule here is that you can actually post professionally-made content that will appear on a page separated from the snaps posted by non-brand users.

Until recently, the page showcased only brand logos and the events they capture, but with the newest redesign, the Discover seems significantly more enticing. The combination of images, ads, articles and videos available goes quite beyond the usual Snapchat environment, but still doesn’t violate the platform’s uniquely dynamic character.

8. Quality Instead of Quantity

The reason Snapchat’s grown to be so popular is exactly the possibility of building more personal connections with other users of the platform. With the exception of Discover, the app disallows you to repost content generated on other platforms, which is why everything you create here has to be original, unique and appealing.

And, since everything you share is time-limited, you don’t have any space for slips. It’s certain that Snapchat users favor quality over quantity, and if you manage to stay interesting in such an environment, all the while keeping it real and spontaneous, your audience will know you’re not joking around.

Not only will they respect that, but getting them convinced that your motives are not necessarily ulterior, but honest instead, is customer trust building 101.

Despite a whole array of possibilities, Snapchat is still somewhat overlooked by small brands. Nevertheless, it’s a platform worth exploring for the purposes of branded content marketing, exactly because of its set of unwritten, yet strict rules.

If mastered, they offer a bit for both sides – better engagement and exclusivity for brands, organic, native content that can’t be found anywhere else for users and, ultimately, a personal connection for both. In terms of brand building, these advantages are too good to be missed out on.

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