Five social media stuff-ups you need to avoid

feature-dead-tweet-thumbAs we outlined recently, Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world, while Facebook is still picking up considerable numbers of new users despite seemingly reaching saturation point.


Throw in LinkedIn – despite our blogger Jonathan Weinstock’s doubts over its future – Pinterest and YouTube and there’s a considerable pool of potential customers out there, ready to be reached quickly and cheaply by your start-up.


But beware. Despite, or perhaps because of, their large budgets and hefty staffing pool, large businesses are continually making a hash of their social media.


Here are five cringeworthy recent social media errors by businesses – and how you can avoid following suit:



1. Sluggish response to hoaxes


Just Jeans has around 18,000 ‘likes’ on its Facebook page but risked alienating a good proportion of these in January, when a hoaxer ran riot for 12 hours.


Someone purporting to be from the retailer started abusing various customers, telling one user that she was blacklisted from Just Jeans stores and telling another their comment was “so last year.”


“How rude!!,” one customer wrote. “No one seems to be able to do [their] job properly! Just jeans, appalling!”




Belatedly, the real Just Jeans swung into action, deleting the comments, banning the imposter and saying it was “very sorry” for the offence caused.


The lesson here? You need to react quickly to anything that will damage your brand on social media as it can quickly get out of hand. This doesn’t mean 24-hour monitoring – there are other tricks you can use.


“If things are posted in a particular way or using certain words, you can use the Facebook functionality to automatically hide the posts,” Michael Simonetti, founder and managing director of digital agency AndMine, told SmartCompany.


“For example, we worked with Ojay clothing and it got trolled over using fur in their garments, so we created a blacklist of words associated with fur and any words that were particularly aggressive, which saves monitoring overnight.”



2. Cashing in on a disaster


In the wake of the devastating hurricane Sandy that hit the north-east of the US last year, American Apparel decided it was a good time to launch an online offer.


The retailer sent out an ad that offered 20% off for those who may be “bored during the storm.”




The reaction from potential customers on Twitter was less than enthusiastic. Many promised to boycott the store, with one saying: “As if sexualized ads and harassment lawsuits weren’t enough for a boycott, @AmericanApparel sent out a “hurricane Sandy sale” mail. Ugh.”


Several large brands have inexplicably provoked offence by linking their offers to natural disasters, riots and other ‘bad news’ items. The lesson is clear – don’t do it.


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