Social Media has become an important channel customers use to reach out to businesses. From tweets expressing their displeasure, to Facebook wall posts asking for additional information, increasingly, customers utilize these channels to engage and communicate with you.

Facebook realizes this and, as a result, has opened up new ways for customers to communicate with businesses, and vice versa. It also now holds businesses accountable through public notations that highlight how fast a business responds to customers.

These days, an improperly handled Facebook page or Twitter account can lose business and alienate customers. I have therefore put together 5 social media errors you can easily make, and why it is so important to avoid them. I hope these help!

  1. Ignoring Interaction:

    For most customers, if they have an issue, there is nothing worse than reaching out to a company and feeling ignored. Yet this is exactly what businesses do when they ignore customer interaction on social media, and it happens more often than you may think.

    Regardless of whether the interaction is a complaint, or a simple product or business question, be sure to pay attention and respond in a timely manner. You will earn the goodwill of the customer and at the same time show potential customers that your company cares.

    In our digital world, ignoring these interactions is the equivalent to ignoring a phone call or a question asked in person. Make sure that you pay attention to your social media properties and acknowledge your customers when they choose to interact with you.

  2. Being Completely Promotional:

    By definition, social media is, well, social. Individuals do want to interact with any friends, families and businesses they may care about. However, while there’s nothing wrong with running ad campaigns, or even occasional posts about your product or service, bombarding your fans or followers with promotional content is the fastest way to lose your audience.

    It’s hard enough to get their attention in the first place. If you spam their newsfeeds or Twitter streams, you’ll find out quickly just how easy it is for consumers to hide, unlike or unfollow you.

  3. Lack of Consistency:

    As digital noise increases, social networks are making it harder for businesses to deliver content to their audiences. With organic reach hovering in the 4-6% range (or lower), it is important to maintain a consistent presence by posting relevant content on a regular basis.

    Your Facebook page is rather like an extension of your storefront or business location. When someone visits your Facebook page and finds that the latest post is months old, it seems like the lights are on but no one is operating the business – you are obviously not very creative and care little for your customers.

    It doesn’t take much time to find a single piece of content that’s relevant to your business and/or share an interesting picture with your audience daily. Make it a priority to ensure that something gets posted regularly and avoid the appearance of apathy.

  4. Ignoring Your Audience’s Needs & Wants:

    It’s very easy to fall into the “social media as advertising channel” trap. However, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks make it easy to ensure that you serve up desirable content, with tools that inform you of the types of content your audience desires. It’s actually quite simple. Every time content is posted, the audience votes. They’ll engage with the content they like and ignore (or fail to engage) with the content they don’t.

    Pay attention to the content that your audience engages with and post more content along similar lines. In general, content that gives your some personality, such as videos and pictures of employees, community involvement or other real-time events at your business will be the best performing content.

    There’s a big push for video content which performs very well. So highlight what’s going on at your business through images and video and you’ll find that your engagement soars.

  5. Inappropriate Content on Personal Accounts:

    Just as social media is now a useful tool for screening potential employees, potential partnerships can easily be dismissed by an errant post on social media. When key executives of a company post content that is divisive (religion, politics, etc.) or illustrates inappropriate behavior (excessive drinking, partying, etc.) this can cause a potential customer or partner to disappear.

    I’m not saying that executives need to live their lives as saints. I’m simply saying that if the content or activity wouldn’t be appropriate in front of customers or partners – potential or actual – than it’s probably wise not to memorialize those same things on personal social media accounts.

    An argument could be made that privacy settings can prevent this. However, keep in mind the simplicity of taking a single screenshot and the damage that it can do unbeknownst to the executive.

Social media has become a viable and oft-used form of communication. As companies have increasingly realized its importance and become faster at responding to and resolving customer problems, customers have become better trained in the fact that social media is an effective means of interaction. When and if a customer reaches out, failing to react appropriately can result in negative consequences which are so simple to prevent. I hope that these 5 tips help improve your presence on social media. By no means is this a complete “how-to” list, but rather a guide to help you begin to have a solid social media presence.

Sara Callahan | Carter West Public Relations