5 Ways Social Media Can Wreak Havoc on Your Business

The following is a guest post by Diana Smith. Diana is a full time mom of two beautiful girls covering the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she is not being to serious and busy she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

It’s not until a brand starts experiencing customer wrath on social media that it would even consider this godsend of a marketing tool to be a potential risk to your business. Unfortunately, as with many things in life as well as business, it’s a double-edged sword; one with the potential to help you conquer the realms of your industry, and one to gloriously self-destruct in the effort to succeed.

The potential benefits and profit that your brand can earn from a solid social media approach most certainly trump the potential poor outcomes, but knowing how to handle or preferably prevent some of the issues may actually be the key to help your brand thrive.

Before one of your novice social media managers causes a company-wide fiasco, or you come across a particularly feisty customer publicly ruining your reputation one post at a time, read on and learn about the best ways to prevent disasters in the world of social media and what to look out for.

Negative reviews

Mind the plural, because a single poor comment on your Facebook post, or a customer with a mildly dissatisfied tone will not truly be any cause for alarm. These simple, somewhat common situations are relatively easy to handle if you have a contingency plan in place, and a way to repay and apologize to the customers in question. More often than not, such a gesture is enough to make things right; even if they might not be a return buyer for your brand, at least there is no permanent damage to your image.

On the other hand, if negative posts, tags, comments and reviews start getting disseminated quickly, this can turn into a wildfire that may just be the one to turn your brand to dust. An ignored complaint can transform into a rant in an instant, while a single unhappy client may cause an uprising in social un-follows for your company. You need to be prepared and your social teams educated to handle complaints and negative reviews, otherwise they are bound to backfire.

Poor branding

With the rise of memes, animations such as gifs, and the relaxed tone of voice that is prevalent on many social networks (sometimes even LinkedIn), there is a time and a place for everything. Depending on your company’s list of services or products, your own language and types of posts can vary from slightly quirky to completely informal, but they should still retain the essence of your brand.

Your business social profiles are not the appropriate channels for expressing personal beliefs, as that will most likely lead to alienating your customers. A great (or terrible is more like it) example would be the KitchenAid tweet during a presidential debate, which was mistakenly posted from the brand’s page, not the personal one of the employee. While they mitigated the crisis quickly, it’s a valuable lesson for many brands out there to keep their professional and their personal thoughts separate.

Ignoring social mentions

It’s commendable that a brand should spend ample time on crafting, fine-tuning, and delivering a slew of consistent, well-branded posts, and make sure that the company is posting such content on relevant networks for their audience. Providing value should be the first and foremost goal of any social media strategy, but even the most experienced of companies should embrace the learning curve and hear what their customers and users have to say. Not doing so can actually result in missed opportunities, mishandled issues, or ones not handled at all.

The fact that approximately 60% of Australia’s population is on Facebook caused brands Down Under to begin implementing their social listening strategies more wisely, and the rest of the world follows suit. The sheer volume of active individuals using social mention monitoring tools can prevent full-scale crises and make the most of any brand mentions across the social realm.

Timing can be everything

While there’s no indication that an institution such as the NRA can get shut down after a poor social media move, there is so much any other commercial brand can learn from them when it comes to social blunders.

With a whole record of poorly-constructed tweets, some of them posted right after another mass shooting, or in an equally sensitive moment for the nation and the world, they are the perfect example of when not to post self-promotional, insensitive posts. It’s not just about following trends and taking care of being up to date with the latest events, but also delivering a brand image that will resonate with your values.

While there is a multitude of “dos” to utilize social media to do good, support your brand’s growth, and help your customers discover your business, it’s equally vital to know the “don’ts” imposed by common sense, as well as best practices on social media. Master them, and you’ll be able to prevent numerous crises, ensure long-term relationships and inspire loyalty.