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Ignore Bad Social Media Advice

There’s plenty of advice out there about social media.

Some of it is brilliant.

Some of it’s meh… okay.

And some of it is downright awful.

If you ever come across any of these tips, run away as fast as your legs will carry you…

1. Facebook’s the Only Place to Be

Facebook is the world’s most popular network. It’s on course to hit 1.5 billion active users anytime soon.

Does that mean your business needs to be on Facebook? Perhaps.

If you sell to consumers, then Facebook is a great place to be. But if your customers are other businesses? Then other networks will be far better for promoting your products or services.

The key here is to choose the social networks that are right for you and your brand.

2. Email is “Old Hat”

Yes, email was around before many of Generation Y were even born (that’s why we call them digital natives). But that’s no reason to dismiss email.

Rather, email’s long life – and the fact that everyone uses it – is a big reason to embrace email.

Did you know that for every dollar invested in email marketing, the average return is over $40?

Email’s here to stay – so make sure it’s integral to your social strategy.

3. Ignore (and Delete) Negative Comments

You think that ignoring the mud-flinging makes you look professional and detached?

Then you’re wrong.

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media with complaints. And they expect a response.

So make sure you know how to use social media as an effective customer service tool.

4. Never Let Your Employees Anywhere Near Twitter

This is a “helpful tip” you’ll probably hear from a lawyer. Their heart is in the right place. They want you to avoid a lawsuit.

The problem is, lawyers think like lawyers. They don’t make great marketers.

Nowadays, people want to engage with businesses. They want to see that you’re human and vulnerable – and (horror of horrors!) you sometimes make mistakes.

Yes, letting your team loose on social media is risky. And you should always train them first. But it will help you engage with your customers and ultimately be good for your marketing.

5. You Should Never Automate Updates

Some people argue that your social media accounts are only authentic if you’re sitting at your computer (or on your smartphone) when you post updates.

We call baloney.

Scheduled updates are vital to any sensible social strategy. They give you a social presence around the clock without the need to constantly sit at your computer. If you did that, you’d never get anything else done!

Of course, you should make sure you have time to go live on social media from time to time. We recommend logging in for 15 minutes a day. That gives you time to engage with your followers without sacrificing your calendar.

6. The More Social Networks You Use, the Better

Here’s the spirit behind this advice: spread your net wide, and you’ll catch a ton of fish.

The truth? Spread yourself thin, and you’ll struggle to have any impact. Plus, you will burn out.

Social media is constantly changing. New networks are coming on the scene all the time. It’s good to keep track of trends, so you can stay ahead of the crowd.

But jump on every bandwagon, and you’ll be taken on so many rides you’ll have no time for your core audience.

What’s the right way of doing things? Find the networks where your customers are most likely to hang out, and use those.

7. You Need Thousands of Followers to Succeed on Social Media

Having thousands (or millions) of social media followers is a huge asset for your business. We’d never deny that.

But far more important than a big audience is the right audience. Quality trumps quantity any day.

Your ideal followers:

  • Are in love with your brand
  • Have similar values to your brand
  • Are engaged – they read and respond to your updates

In other words, they’re your true fans.

With just a handful of followers like this, you’ll go way further than with thousands of zombie followers.

8. Only Post at Optimal Times

We’re somewhat guilty of proliferating this advice. One of our most popular posts is The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Networks.

You might guess that you should only post at the best times, when your audience is most likely to be online.

It’s certainly true that you should be posting at your best times. But you should also be posting at other times too.

Sometimes you’ll get the best engagement during downtimes, when only a few people are online.

9. Social Media is Great Because it’s FREE

Social media is brilliant because you can reach a huge audience without sinking a ton of money into it.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s free. To get your voice heard on social media, you’ll need to devote a significant amount of time to updating your feeds and engaging with your followers.

You will also need to make the most of your creativity. To be a success on social media, you need to draw on your smarts.

On top of that, using social media effectively can cost money. Investing in ads, scheduling tools and analytics tools can be money well spent.

10. Always Keep it Professional

Yes, you should have a professional approach to social media. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reveal who you really are.

In fact, it’s really important to share your brand’s story, to let your personality shine, and to let people see beneath the hood of your business.

Small Business Facebook

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, with over 1.3 billion active users.

That means if you want to connect with your customers, then Facebook’s the place to be.

Here are three ways you can make the most of Facebook as a small business.

1. Make Your Business Into a Community

We all want to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s human nature.

Facebook lets you build a community around your brand. At its heart, business is about people, so in many ways Facebook is about getting to the roots of business.

By asking your customers to be part of your community, you invite them into your brand’s story. When they’re part of your story, they’ll want to share what they’ve found with their friends.

Building a community is also a great way of finding inspiration…

2. Get Inspired by Your Facebook Fans

One of the advantages of being a small business is that you have control over your creative decisions. You have input on everything from product development to marketing to pricing.

The problem? Being the go-to person for everything can leave you burned out. There’s only so much creativity that you and your small team can muster.

That’s why social media is so helpful. Your customers care about your business – especially if they like your brand on Facebook. They want you to succeed, and they want you to develop the products they need. When you need their advice or help, they’ll be willing to give their input. You’ll be surprised at how generous people can be with their ideas.

Of course that doesn’t mean you should rely on your customers for your creative drive or vision. But it’s good to know they’re there if you need them.

3. Target Ads at Your Ideal Customers

Let’s say you run an online boutique selling handmade baby clothes for newborns. Your ideal audience is made up of moms to be. Facebook lets you target ads so that only expecting moms will see them. Neat, huh?

You can target dog owners, cat owners, people who like gardening, fashionistas – if you can think of a particular group of people, you can most likely target them on Facebook. You can even advertise to people based on their favorite TV show, movie or baseball team.

When your ads are this carefully targeted, you can be sure your marketing budget is being put to good use. Of course, you’ll need to monitor whether your ads are converting. And if they’re not, then you’ll either need to tweak the ad, or rethink who your ideal customer really is.

Airline Social Media

How do you become a millionaire? Make a billion dollars and then buy an airline. – Warren Buffett

Buffett learned from experience – he got burned when he bought shares in US Airways worth over $300 million. In five years, they’d lost 75% of their value.

Buffett joked: “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.”

Well, maybe shooting one of the Wright brothers is taking it a bit far. But airlines are tricky businesses to run at the best of times. Little wonder they so often lose money.

Your customers are tired and often grumpy. They’ve often got up early (or stayed up late) for their flight. Then they had to line up for check-in. Then security – which is simultaneously terrifying and humiliating. Then they’ve had to fight their way on board to find a cramped seat where they’ll have to sit for several hours.

Not even the food is special.

Hook that up with the fact that you’re dealing with people’s dreams. Vacations they’ve saved years to take. Trips across country to reunite with relatives or friends. Travel to a make-or-break business deal.

Airlines have a tough job on their hands.

Would you want to be an airline? I’m not sure I would.

But if I was, I’d be careful to avoid these mistakes.

1. Ryanair’s “Middle Gimp”

James Lockley and his newlywed wife had spent two hours stuck in traffic en route to Stansted Airport in London, England. They were flying out to their own wedding reception in central Europe.

Despite the delay, they arrived at the airport an hour before their Ryanair flight was due to depart.

Yet due to Ryanair staff behaving incompetently, the plane boarded without them.

They were left stranded – and furious – in London, while the guests at their own wedding reception partied without them.

Lockley’s revenge? A letter of complaint to Ryanair that he published to Facebook. Ryanair staff are characterized as “Vacant”, “Not That Bright” and “Middle Gimp”.

Middle Gimp – supposedly a customer services manager – showed no compassion o their plight.

Here’s the story:

Middle Gimp had clearly listen hard at Ryan Air Middle Gimp school as he managed to take two perfectly calm and sane adults and in a matter of seconds reduce them to angry people considering violence.

‘Check in opens 3 hours before the flight’ he barked repeatedly as if it was the answer to every question in life. We tried to ask Middle Gimp direct questions about why it was necessary for us to miss the flight because the Child had forgotten to do his job, and Vacant had forgotten to do hers.

‘Why is this our fault, and why should we miss the flight because Ryan Air staff have admitted they made errors?.

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘Do you acknowledge we have just cause for complaint as we tried to do the right thing and the only reason we are not on the plane is because of communication failures with Ryan Air Staff?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘What colour are my trousers?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

You can read the full letter here. At the time of writing, it’s clocked up close to 70,000 shares.

Ouch.

Worse, Ryanair have just ignored it.

Ryanair gets by on being cheap. People use Ryanair because they want to save money. And maybe that’s a strategy that will always work for them.

But here’s the rub.

People today expect more of companies, especially when it comes to customer service. Companies who fulfill that expectation are rewarded for their effort.

Research shows that seven in 10 (71%) consumers are likely to recommend a brand to others, if they experience a quick and effective customer service response on social media. That figure drops to 19% for consumers who don’t receive a response.

2. United Breaks Guitars

Canadian musician Dave Carroll was flying from Halifax to Omaha, Nebraska to play at a gig. He checked his guitar into hold.

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he overheard another passenger exclaim “they’re throwing guitars outside”.

When Carroll arrived in Omaha, he discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had suffered severe damage.

Carroll tried to claim compensation, but his claim was repeatedly rejected because he had failed to submit the claim within the “standard 24-hour timeframe.”

After nine months of frustrating phone calls and failed negotiations, Carroll changed tactics. Instead of trying to deal with United’s customer service team, he wrote a song about his experience.

“United Breaks Guitars” was an instant YouTube hit, clocking up 150,000 views in a single day.

United immediately contacted Carroll to “make what happened right” – though they only offered $3,000 in compensation (Carroll took it, and gave the money to charity).

Fortunately, Taylor guitars stepped into the breach, offering Carroll two Taylor guitars.

And “United Breaks Guitars” is still Dave Carroll’s biggest hit, with over 14 million views on YouTube.

What does this show? People power. Your customers have a greater voice than ever before – so don’t dismiss them when they come to you with problems.

3. #QantasLuxury

Back in 2011, Australian airline Qantas unintentionally kicked off a Twitter comedy hour.

Qantas asked people to tweet about their dream luxury inflight experience using the hashtag #QantasLuxury.

Did people start sharing their flying fantasies?

Nope, they didn’t..

Instead, they used the hashtag as a batsignal to get the attention of Qantas customer services.

Tweets included:

My #QantasLuxury experience would be no matter what time or duration of the flight a proper meal is served a cookie is not a meal its a joke

A complimentary cheap hotel room because your cynical airline left you stranded in Adelaide, of all places. Adelaide. #QantasLuxury

A plane that doesn’t have an exploding engine! #QantasLuxury

The lesson? If you’re going to ask your customers to dream better, then make sure your current offering is already damn good.

The Takeaway

What’s to learn from all of these? Your customers matter. Listen to them and treat them with respect – and they’ll do the same in return. Ignore customer complaints at your peril!