Top 5 Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media

Social media is a consumer’s closest connection to a brand. There are many companies out there doing it right. For those who are still developing their strategy and building resources – and for those who want a refresher –  here’s a look at the top 5 mistakes brands make.

1. The brand doesn’t understand why the audience follows, subscribes and/or ‘Likes’ them.

Is it for coupons? Customer support? Recipes or product tips? Or simply because it looks cool to publish “Veronika Harbick likes [BRAND] on Facebook?

Knowing why consumers choose to engage with a brand is the keystone of an effective social content strategy. And knowing that not each audience segment may have different – and many – expectations will ensure that that strategy is broad, deep and healthy.

An example: The Quaker Facebook account is frequently updated with information on oatmeal tips and recipes.  Resources have been invested in keeping the content fresh and engaging the audience. However, key consumer questions go unanswered and coupon requests are met with silence.

Quaker seemingly ignores these questions – chances for significant engagement – in lieu of canned, and occasionally banal postings:

Here, Quaker has missed the opportunity to engage with hand-raising consumers, mis-reading the intent of their follower base and potentially reducing ROI as they forge ahead with their content strategy.

2. The brand isn’t clear about who is talking.

Does the brand post from the voice of a brand ambassador, a CEO or as a personification of the brand itself? These are all fine choices, but the consumer needs to know whom s/he is speaking with. This sets up an expectation and framework that helps the consumer to build a relationship with the brand and/or account manager.

The brand Ann Taylor was recently praised for responding to a critical Facebook post about their LOFT-brand.  But everyone may not get all platforms right all of the time. Their Twitter account does not have a clear identify, and this ambiguity reduces efficacy. How does a consumer engage with someone if they do not know who/what that person is?

When encountering the @AnnTaylorStyle twitter page, it is not certain who the consumer is interacting with. Is it the brand itself? Someone in the marketing department? An agency liaison?

Clarifying this voice could be easily solved by added a photo and bio to the left hand side of the Twitter design or addressed directly through tweets themselves.

3. The brand doesn’t invest in resources for social media management.

Social Media is a brand’s front-line to the world. Using interns, and entry-level or over-loaded employees (instead of dedicated internal staff or agencies) is not conducive to handling customer relations, tracking chatter and culling analytical insights.

Brands need to plan through all potential scenarios, build internal structures and processes before launching social media initiatives. In the age of recalls and internet-born firedrills, the speed at which a brand responds impacts the rate that consumer confidence is restored.

4. The brand doesn’t customize content for each platform

A brand’s audience will segment on different platforms. Many Facebook users are not on Twitter. Twitter followers behave differently than YouTube subscribers. While many assets can (and should) be cross-promoted, brands must also customize pieces of content for each platform to speak to these consumer bases on their own terms and in their own language to maintain relevance.

5. The brand doesn’t start with analytics

Unfortunately, brands new to social media often resist investing extra resources in measurement and analytics.  Not only are analytics needed to show success (and failure) in the future, but they should also be employed to create the very essence of the brand’s social media practice. These analytics will answer very key questions: Is your brand well liked online already? Is it frequently mentioned for bad service or poor customer satisfaction? If it’s the latter, you’ll need resources to first rebuild the brand online before focusing on increasing followers, generating re-tweets, commenting etc. This sentiment analysis ensures that the appropriate level of social media resources are committed, and provide a basic barometer for ROI.

Invest at the beginning in free and paid tools. Listen well and plan even better. Then execute consistently and quickly. Then execute again.



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  2. 07/20 2010

    The first sentence says it all, and, of course, making that connection meaningful is the challenge for all of us. While this article is titled, “Top 5 Mistakes”, the material could just as easily be organized to show Top 5 Things To Do for SMM Success. Really good stuff from Veronika.


  3. 07/21 2010

    Twitter Comment

    お! RT @lorirtaylor: Top 5 Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media [link to post]

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  4. 07/21 2010

    Twitter Comment

    Top 5 Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media [link to post]

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  5. 07/21 2010

    Twitter Comment

    Top 5 mistakes brands make in Social Media [link to post] Great insights with examples. Thanks @loritaylor !

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  6. 07/21 2010

    Twitter Comment

    Thanks for the Tweets @mindthrust @loritaylor Top 5 mistakes brands make in Social Media [link to post]

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  7. Pieter Gaskin
    08/5 2010

    Thank you for posting this blog.I too am new to social media and I have already picked up a few pointers.


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