What NOT to do with your brand’s social media

The social media trolls are out there and they’re waiting to give your brand a bad name.

Why? Because that’s what trolls do. 

It’s funny though, these days everyone will tell you how to optimize your brand’s social media.  

Instead, I’m going to tell you what not to do. Hopefully you’ll learn a few lessons from my practical experience. (Believe me, I’ve made a few mistakes along the way.)

So let’s get started. Here are a few “Don’ts” for managing your brand on social media:

1) Don’t be inconsistent

This first tip is fairly ambiguous, but that’s because it applies across several definitions. 

You need to be consistent in the amount of posting you do – don’t throw up a ton of content one week and nothing the next. A random posting schedule is like giving your audience a frustrating busy signal. Give ‘em a steady flow.

You also need to be consistent in voice and tone. Establish a personality – don’t let your brand seem dry and robotic to your readers.

It’s all about creating a rhythm with your audience that will gain their loyalty.

2) Don’t post with deaf ears! 

You have to listen with consistency as well. If you focus all of your brand’s energy on posting but not listening to your audience, you’ll be woefully out of the loop. Are they complaining, bragging, questioning or expressing a need? You need to keep an ear to the rail and stay on top of the conversations that happen each week, if not each day.

The threads of social complaint grow like weeds – especially on your Facebook and blog comment sections. Believe me, many major social media blunders have arisen from a failure to listen and pay attention.

My advice: Don’t run your social media account without a management plan that includes a monitoring process – along with your posting schedule, your content topics, a monitoring process, and guidelines for your voice and tone.

3) Don’t oversell

This one’s easy… make sure you’re using social media for more than just promoting your brand. Include a variety of tactics in your online messaging. Yes, you should use the channel to promote your business – everyone expects you to – but make a larger plan to contribute helpful, educational, and/or entertaining content. 

Be generous. It’s a simple matter of giving more than you take. Remember that social media is a channel, and the information flows both ways. 

Use your accounts for sharing information, promoting other voices, giving away free advice, and answering questions. Establishing your brand as a resource is a huge step into thought-leader territory.

A solid plan for content creation is the “30/60/10 rule,” meaning 30 percent owned content, 60 percent curated from others, and 10 percent promotional, self-serving content.

Feed your audience with interesting and useful information or it may get angry, or even worse disappear.

4) Engage, don’t argue

Challenging situations often arise on social media – that’s just the nature of it. Anonymity gives people the courage to post things they normally wouldn’t say in person. When this happens you need a game plan, and it begins with showing the public – not just the individual poster – that your brand is humble, kind and welcoming of criticism.

Here are the key steps for engaging – not enraging – your critics:

  1. Thank them for their comment
  2. Apologize for their frustration
  3. Assure them you’ll find the help they need
  4. Get the conversation off-line

Social media nightmares are usually created by the first response (or lack thereof), so always begin with a conciliatory tone that shows you care about your people.

Say something along the lines of: “I’m sorry for your issue. I hope I can help ease your frustration. 

This tip is standard practice customer service, but it’s often overlooked these days due to the informal nature of social media. Look at it this way: You are in business to help people and make life better, so any time someone is having a frustrating experience you are failing in some form or another.

No, the customer isn’t always right, but saying sorry diffuses the anger, softens the tone. It shows a human side and tells them you want to relate, and you’ll separate the customers who need help from the simple trolls who want to complain.

The last part of that formula is the most important. Get the conversation off-line. Don’t get into a back-and-forth with your critics. Instead, offer them a chance to work directly with a customer service expert. Explain that orders contain private customer information and have them email or phone-in their contact information and order number. This will publicly show you’re offering personalized attention. It serves two functions: 1) it puts the complaint into the expert hands where it belongs, and 2) it shows the rest of the world that you’re willing to help people – even the angry ones. 

And remember, not everyone may be totally honest, so don’t go publicly offering any promises or refunds.

5) Don’t forget why you’re here

Social media offers many advantages for your brand to maintain an online presence for your business, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Customer engagement (new and existing)
  • Authority building

Follow the five Don’ts above and you’ll have a consistent plan for avoiding the social media trolls. 

Can you help someone with these social media Don’ts? Please share this article on your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn accounts using the links below.

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Jeff Doubek

About Jeff Doubek

Jeff Doubek is a Digital Content Strategist at Liquid focused on developing and executing content plans as part of the broader UX strategy for website redesigns, and supporting the creation and execution of content strategies for integrated digital marketing campaigns. Jeff is also a lifelong competitive sailboat racer and youth racing coach.

Published Feb 12, 2016