People now have the control over how, when and where they make purchase decisions, how they communicate and engage with brands as well as how they influence others’ feelings or perceptions about a brand.
Social media plays a pinnacle role in terms of helping companies get into their consumer’s mindset, understand how they want to be communicated with and actively engage with them.
But not everybody is getting it right. There are a number of brands constantly making mistakes in the space and paying the price for it.
Common mistakes brands make in social media
One of the biggest downfalls is that brands often rush into the online and social media space without fully thinking it through or tying to incorporate it into their other marketing activities. Unlike any other marketing activity, to be successful within the social media space, a solid strategy needs to be defined upfront.
Social media doesn’t just operate in isolation. It needs to form part of a broader marketing strategy, something companies often fail to realise.
When entering this space, companies also need to go in with realistic expectations in terms of what they hope to achieve from social media marketing. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your social media strategy.
Defining your social media strategy
First of all, companies need to define specific criteria to measure success. This needs to be done regularly with timeous feedback to stakeholders.
Before the dawn of the internet, the way goods and services were sold was based on relationships. People would congregate in a market where they would meet and develop relationships, and as part of this process people would buy goods and services from the marketers.
Today the same rule applies. These conversations and relationships are, however, happening online in a virtual space. It just means that everything happens more quickly and more people are generally involved in the process. We’re also able to easily share experiences and opinions immediately which generally have a major impact on the purchasing decision.
To cut a long story short, it’s all about networking and developing conversations and communities around your brand. The best way to do this? Social media.
How to prevent bad word-of-mouth in the social media space
People tend to talk about and share bad experiences a lot more than they do good ones. As a result, a bad experience with your brand is likely to do the rounds on social media platforms at a rate of knots and, if not managed properly, likely to snowball and escalate out of control.
The best way to stop this from happening is quite simple. Don’t mess up in the first place. But, let’s be honest, that is virtually impossible.
So, if a customer does have a bad experience with your brand, the key thing is to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you across multiple communication channels in a simple and easy way.
The age-old saying stands hard and fast in the social media space — don’t air your dirty laundry in public. If a customer who had a bad experience begins venting on social media, make every attempt to move the conversation offline and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
A good way to stay on top of what your customers (and others within the market) are saying about you is to invest in Online Reputation Management (ORM) Monitoring tools. To do this you need to make sure that you have an ORM strategy in place to deal with potential incidents.
ORM software identifies positive and negative conversations happening online, allowing you to identify conversations happening in the market. You are able to identify specific people — who are either key influencers or who you need to address — and then tailor your content and communication strategy appropriately.
Users switch social media platforms left right and centre — how do you deal with this?
In the new world of work, companies need to actively participate on a number of social media networks and constantly keep an eye on their target market to see where they are participating.
Stay on top of the game and make sure your brand is up to date with the latest social media platforms. Are you on Google+ and Pinterest? If you answered ‘No’, get moving!
An important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t change consumer behaviour. Being in the know and up to speed with the ever-changing landscape that is the social media industry will enable you to be proactive and move forward with the movers and shakers.
Be proactive, not reactive, and it will serve you well in the digital space. Not only will you be seen as an innovator in your field, but it will give you a competitive edge and enable you to stay one step ahead of the competition.