When an emerging technology has as much momentum behind it as social media, the temptation is to focus on the success stories, and to let ourselves get wrapped up in the Buck Rogers gee-whizz-ness of it all. However, as with any new frontier, there are still many perils that must be acknowledged, understood, and avoided. The biggest risks are naturally incurred by the players with the most to lose – in the case of social media, those players are the Fortune 500 businesses that are taking their first tentative steps into the social media wilderness.

Fortunately, the lessons learned by corporate social media pioneers can help the next wave of adopters find their way to successful planning and implementation of an effective SM strategy. In the Forbes’ article “8 Most Common Mistakes Fortune 500 Brands Make with Facebook Content,”  Michael Matthews describes eight pitfalls commonly suffered by large corporations who are struggling to promote themselves. For instance, many companies fail to establish a credible online personality that is clearly distinguished from the mass-media brand. A company’s online persona has to be human, something that consumers can relate to personally the same way they relate to their other online connections. Another common mistake is to begin an open-ended conversation that doesn’t relate directly to the needs or expectations of the online community.

Matthews’ fourth mistake to avoid is allowing online conversations to drop off when companies fail to reply to comments. Some social media marketing mistakes discussed by Matthew Ellis also mention the importance of replying consistently to posts. Ellis points out that allowing conversations to drop off without prompt replies to posts makes a company look disorganized, disengaged, and uncommitted to its online community. Rachel also touches on this in her article about clothing brands failing to respond on twitter. In the Forbes article, Matthews stresses the importance of treating brand ambassadors with special care, and not like mere coupon-hunters. They are truly special members of the community, who help sell the brand, and often understand its relevance to the community better than internal marketing staff do.

Finally, don’t forget to market. While its important to keep the company online persona authentic, the reason for being online is to help pad the bottom line. If your Facebook page isn’t driving traffic and, ultimately, sales, there is not much point in having one.

-Paul Heitsch


~ by goodpackagedconsumers on October 7, 2012.