It’s 2017. By now, there’s a very good chance that social media communication has established itself as an integral part of your company’s marketing activities. Whether it plays a leading role – perhaps influencers are the driving force behind your product sales – or it merely plays a supporting part, most of the updates you post to social media will be public facing. This means that any mistakes you make can be picked up by your audience and the wider platform user base in a matter of seconds. I don’t think there is a single brand out there that will have a perfect record when it comes to their own performance on social media. Making a typo is easily done, especially in a world of auto-correct. It’s also possible to send an update or response from the wrong account if you’re logged into multiple profiles. Perhaps one of the issues affecting the potential quality of social media updates is the very nature of how we as brands actually go about it. There is no one method that suits all. Some of us have an internal team, others use an agency. Where money is tight, updates on platforms might come from a general marketing assistant or even someone more removed from social media as part of their normal job role. Just last year I was working with a brand who had their accounts maintained by a zookeeper. Despite these inconsistencies of potential brand experience with social media, some of the same things seem to go wrong again and again. For those who do have the time and resources, a very good place to start is to put together social media guidelines. Don’t confuse this with the policy that is provided to staff when they join (“these are my views, not my employers…”). Your social media guidelines should essentially be transferable as a training handbook to any new team members, agency contacts, and senior staff within your own business. It’ll cover tone of voice, how to respond to common issues, posting frequencies, what to avoid, etc. If you don’t have the time for this and your brand is a less frequent user of social media, at least try and put a one-pager document together that summarises the key points. Having this in place should at least set your brand standard for what you expect on social media from those who are carrying out the updates, whether an internal or external team. Don’t be afraid to use real-life examples to demonstrate your point either; there are plenty out there that are just waiting to be used for educational purposes. To help you out, I’ve set out a number of mistakes that brands are still making on social media. Hopefully these examples will help you to improve your communications going forward, as you’ll know exactly what to look out for. Disclosure: All of the examples shown in this post can be found replicated across social media profiles of many brands, I’ve merely just identified recent examples for you to learn from. Their inclusion here doesn’t mean that they’re doing social media badly.
What brands are getting wrong on social media
Making direct responses
Yodel has demonstrated how easy it is to make something appear in their audience’s Twitter feeds rather than isolating the communication directly to the relevant person.
@LshsMrStevensOh dear Tom! I am so sorry about that. Please DM me the tracking number and full delivery address.
— Yodel (@YodelOnline) January 8, 2017
By missing the space after the Twitter handle of the user who made a complaint, it becomes a lot more public. If you’re on the desktop version of Twitter, you’d usually only see a tweet of this nature (if done properly) by scrolling through the ‘Tweets & replies’ tab on a specific profile, so it would still be available to view, but a lot less people would see it. The other issue here is that the user in question hasn’t actually been tagged properly, and therefore may not see the response from the brand.
Being too slow to respond
One thing that is sure to be a source of annoyance to customers is by making a slow response. There is no specific amount of time that is right or wrong here, but it will be based on the time sensitivity of the communication. For example, Sky Help Team shared an issue with their fibre network in certain regions in the UK, and customers asked for updates on the status of the fix over the course of four hours.
@SkyHelpTeam has this been sorted yet??
— Jonathan (@jwills1884) January 9, 2017
@jwills1884 Not yet, but engineers are on the case & we will tweet out as soon as its resolved 🙂 ^OL
— Sky Help Team (@SkyHelpTeam) January 9, 2017
Initially the brand did respond to individuals who asked for further details, but then started to make general responses stating that a wider update would be shared when the network was up and running again. I can see that some customers have advised Sky that their fibre is back up, but as of the time of writing this, there is no main update from Sky Help Team confirming this for all users who were affected. Aside from being slow to respond and update, there is also an onus on the customer as it requires them to manually check the service updates, rather than having a direct response which is much easier and less time consuming.
Dealing with high volumes
There are just some times of the year that are busier than others. Before and after Christmas is definitely one of these times. Not only are people buying more from retailers to find the perfect presents, there is also the temptation to take part in the Boxing Day sales. ASOS look like they shifted a lot of stock after the festive period, and this is an assumption made solely on the number of tweets that are being made in response to inbound enquiries and complaints from their customers.
@Rocko_Supreme We’re working through our DM’s as quickly as we can! We’ll get back to you asap – hold tight!
— ASOS Here to Help (@ASOS_HeretoHelp) January 9, 2017
The response above is just one of many examples, but because ASOS is dealing with so many queries at the same time, they’re also making mistakes in other areas too, including both of the points already covered in this list. Dealing with issues on social media can become overwhelming, especially during peak purchasing times. And because members of the social media team might want to have time off just like the rest of the population, this can leave their accounts in the hands of less experienced cover. For brands who anticipate increased engagement (both positive and negative) through busy periods, it’s a good idea to put a robust plan into place well ahead of time.
Disconnect between online and offline
At the first glance, you would think that BT gets a really high engagement rate from their posts on Facebook. To an extent it might be true, but the comments aren’t necessarily based on the content within the posts themselves. If you start to read the comments attributed to each post, you’ll see that customers are using them as a place to express their woes or general thoughts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for BT as they’re certainly getting helpful feedback from customers, however the social media team can be put in the firing line when the issues have actually been caused by another area of the business. It seems like one major gripe is the service that customers receive by phone, especially when issues aren’t logged in the system, or they get cut off, or they don’t get a call back. With a service so vast, it’s impossible to get things right all the time but it’s not surprising that customers would take to another form of communication if they aren’t getting the help they need on the phone. Unfortunately the comment above hadn’t received a public reply on social media from BT at the time of writing this post, but they do respond to many comments.
What tips do you have for brands?
There isn’t a quick fix for solving problems on social media, but it would be great to hear from you on some of the advice you have to address certain elements. Is there something you’ve implemented in your own team that’s working well? Or maybe you can share an area where you were having problems and then found a way to reduce them. Leave your comments below, or get in touch with me on social media.