By David Griner, the social media strategist for Luckie & Company, a U.S. marketing agency based in Birmingham, Alabama. He writes about social media on TheSocialPath.com and is a regular contributor to Adweek magazine's blog, AdFreak.com.
Seven deadly sins There are a million ways for businesses to use social media well, and only a handful of ways to do it horribly wrong. So why do companies keep falling into the same traps?
The answer is easy: human nature. And as we all know, humans are constantly beset by malicious temptations.
So as a public service, I've decided to break down the Seven Deadly Sins that make social media go sour.
1. Lust: Loving your customers is great, but take it slow.
2. Gluttony: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
3. Greed: It’s hard to shake hands while you’re reaching for someone’s wallet.
4. Sloth: Always avoid the temptation to “set it and forget it.”
5. Wrath: There are a lot of people out there itching for a punch in the nose, but you’re not the one to give it to them.
6. Envy: Don’t be dissuaded by other people “doing it better than you.”
7. Pride: Stay humble, rock star.
For insight, read on.
Loving your customers is great, but take it slow. In the ribald days of 2006, a business would sign up on MySpace and then start “friending” everyone with a pulse. These days, lusting after fans like that will get you labeled as desperate — or even as a spammer. So keep it in your pants and truly get to know the first people who connect with your brand. In return, they might just love you for life.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Once companies decide to take a seat at the social media table, they often dig in with gusto. The downside: They want to be everywhere at once, spreading themselves across the Web instead of being strategic and focused. You don’t need accounts on all social networks — just the right ones.
It’s hard to shake hands while you’re reaching for someone’s wallet. We’d all like to make money through social media, and if your business is strong, it’ll happen. But if all you do on your Twitter feed or Facebook page is spout off sales messages, no one’s going to stick around. Be yourself. Be helpful. Be a good listener. Then the money will come to you.
Always avoid the temptation to “set it and forget it.” Starting a blog or creating a presence on a social network? That’s easy. Keeping it alive and growing? That takes commitment, adaptability and good-old effort. You would never open a storefront, then close shop two weeks later because of low turnout. Go for the long term, and plan accordingly.
There are a lot of people out there itching for a punch in the nose, but you’re not the one Rodin-detailto give it to them. Once you’re active online, you’re bound to get a few critics. Some will offer valuable feedback. Some will shout obscenities.
You won’t have a hard time telling the difference, so focus on the ones who deserve a response. And no matter what, never lash out. Your scathing “private” e-mail will probably end up on 100 blogs before breakfast, and the Internet has a long (if not infinite) memory.
Don’t be dissuaded by other people “doing it better than you.” Someone will always have more followers, more blog comments, more write-ups in Wired. Focus on who you are and what your business has to offer, not on what the other guy is doing. And when you must steal an idea (because hey, it happens), find a way to make it so much bigger and better, no one can even recognize the original.
Stay humble, rock star. Successful social media really is easier than you’d think. If you plan ahead, pace yourself and listen more than you talk, you’ll strike a chord with existing customers and potential fans alike. It will open new opportunities and enhance your brand in ways you never imagined. But don’t let it go to your head. There’s always more work to do.
Check out 12ahead, our brand new platform
covering the latest in cutting-edge digital marketing and creative technology from around the globe.
12ahead identifies emerging trends and helps
you to understand how they can apply to modern-day companies.
We believe 12ahead can put you and your
business 12 months ahead of the competition. Sign up for a free trial today.