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Avoid social media disasters with 3 easy tips

Social media become an integral part of the digital marketing mix. For businesses, it’s now bordering on mandatory to have a strong social presence. But putting together an effective social strategy is a tricky affair. Users have become so much more discerning and pro-active about their engagement, upping the stakes for organisations that need to achieve a superior social strategy.

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It can be a dangerous business too. Get your approach wrong and you could do your company untold reputational harm on a viral scale. So here are some golden rules to help you avoid embarrassment.

Keep it real:

The best social strategies are about natural - and often emotional - engagement. Nobody wants to be spammed with endless, boring marketing messages. They want targeted information, useful resources and most importantly a little something to brighten up their day. Humour and spontaneity are the best weapons in your armoury here. Examples like the now notorious Sainbury’s fish puns (brilliantly turning a complaint into a viral opportunity) and the glorious Waitrose Overheard (dedicated to employee’s experiences of outrageously middle class demands) are fantastic instances of how to do it right.

Don’t hijack bad news:

There’s nothing more offensive to social communities than the shameless use of trending bad news to boost a corporate profile. Fashion brand Kenneth Cole fell into this trap. As the world looked on during the Arab Springs uprising in 2011, the brand made the frankly astonishing decision to hijack the hashtag #Cairo to promote its own spring collection. Not surprisingly, Twitter reacted with widespread disgust, eventually forcing the company to issue a public apology. Never, never be tempted to piggy back on emotive hashtags just because they’re trending. Twitter users are extremely sharp. They will bite back.

Keep control:

This is a tricky one, because social media thrives on spontaneity and human interaction. The aforementioned Sainsbury’s fish puns story wasn’t a strategy. It was a single employee who spotted the chance to have some fun engaging with a customer. On the one hand, when you give people that freedom the results are often genuinely delightful and can do a lot for customer relations. On the other hand, there’s a multitude of examples out there of employees posting inappropriately to the detriment of the brand. In 2012, for example, a Kitchenaid employee decided to post an anti-Obama tweet (referring to his recently deceased grandmother) that caused widespread controversy. It’s a good idea to make sure that any employees with access to your feeds are trained, and that you have a social media use policy in place. Oh, and be nice to them…

Coming back from a social media disaster is time consuming, difficult and potentially costly. If you need help in this area, get in touch with Digital Potion’s social media experts. We’ll help you to negotiate the minefield and make sure that your followers and loyal, engaged and on your side.

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