The Dos and Don’ts of Real-Time Marketing with Social Media
One of social media’s greatest advantages is also one of its greatest dangers – its real-time nature. Providing up-to-the-minute information is a fantastic way to engage with your audience and attract new followers, but it’s inevitable that your company will make a mistake in this fast-paced publishing atmosphere. Some social media platforms offer editing functions that allow you to make changes after a post has been published. But sometimes a few seconds is all it takes for a mistake, a flub or a faux pas to go viral. Here’s what to do and what not to do to ensure that those social media marketing mistakes happen infrequently and get corrected in a timely and appropriate manner.
Whether it’s an unintentional error, a snarky comment or basic typo, your social media mistake can be easily exposed to hundreds of followers within seconds, putting your business’s branding and reputation at risk. So, what can you do in this real-time marketing world?
Do focus on the present. With real-time marketing, timeliness is obviously key. Posting information that’s more than a few days old is practically useless to your readers – they’ve already heard the news from another source and you just look out of the loop. When planning and scheduling your content, be sure to leave room for posts relating to current events. If something major happens in your industry and you already have something scheduled for the day, either move it or post more than once on your page.
Do know your audience. This goes a long way in ensuring that you won’t make a faux pas, because you understand your audience and the kinds of content they’ll relate to. For example, if your audience is an older demographic, they may not respond well to posts that are full of snarky language or slang. Have a thorough understanding of the kinds of content your target audience finds useful, as well as the tone they find acceptable and make that your home. Never try to impress your audience with edgy, offensive or indelicate content if they don’t value receiving that type of content from your brand. Even when you don’t consider your message to be “cool”, you should make sure it relates to your audience and evokes positive engagement.
Do take a little time. The push to get timely content out can be overwhelming, and this is where most mistakes happen. As tempting as it is to just type and hit post, pause for a minute and give it a read through. Any words missing? How’s your spelling? Important information like dates, addresses and times correct? Looking over your posts before you hit publish will save you a lot of heartache from having to correct yourself later and not looking credible.
Do respond appropriately to the mistake. No mistake is too small to not correct, if possible. But some mistakes are too big to ignore. Know the difference and respond appropriately. If you missed a word or mistyped and the platform allows edits after publishing, simply correct the post and move on, as long as no pertinent information has changed. If you posted something with incorrect information, post again as soon as possible with the correction, apologize and reply to anyone who responded to your original post with the updated information as well. If you royally mess up with something offensive or off-color, delete the post to avoid offending anyone further and issue a public apology. For more on handling social media mistakes, read this.
And the Don’ts
Don’t do all the talking. Being a part of the conversation is great – it’s what social media is all about. But the key is to not self-promote all over the conversation. Practice listening. Ask questions. Offer insights when you feel qualified, but learn to identify when it’s appropriate to bring up your products and services.
Don’t act desperate. People notice when a brand is seeking attention at the risk of reputation. Don’t post content just to cause a rise. If you do, you need to be prepared for the backlash and fallout that could potentially come your way. Instead, focus on nurturing a social community with content that inspires and appeals to them.
Don’t ignore people. Sometimes you’re interacting on social media during an event, posting real-time updates, and people start asking questions. Don’t keep plowing on! Stop and respond. Most likely they’re at the event or interested in attending. Your response (or lack of one) could change their experience drastically. They could then use social media to complain, and you’ve got a whole new can of worms to deal with.
Don’t be boring. Content on the Internet lives and dies in a very small window. And people receive a ton of it over the course of the day. So don’t just post dull updates that can easily be lost in the fray or overlooked. Make your posts or tweets eye-catching with photos. Use hashtags and encourage others to join in. Post interesting content that causes people to stop and take note.