Social Media’s 3 Cardinal Sins

Market Research Insights

In the social media world, brands aspire to be part of consumers’ inner circles. They work to build large followings the way Oreo and Victoria’s Secret have. This objective is achievable because one out of three consumers interacts with brands a minimum of twice a week. (Here are five tips to help become part of a consumer’s inner social media circle.) The difficulty is that most of your target market is just not all that interested. It’s not that most consumers don’t care, but rather that they work long hours and have their own concerns.

Brands 3 cardinal social media sins

According to Cone Inc. research, the top three social network activities that cause consumers to break up with brands and/or companies are:

  1. Acting irresponsibly either towards the customer or others.
  2. Over-communicating, sending out too many communications, too much content and/or too intrusive messages.
  3. Providing irrelevant information, often too much of it.

6 Ways to combat social media’s echo chamber

The challenge brands and/or companies face when dealing with their social media faux pas is that consumers have social media tools at their fingertips with which they can broadcast their unhappiness, setting off a firestorm that can quickly escalate and go viral. Here are six pointers to help you encourage positive relationships with your customers on social media networks.

  1. Mind your manners. Don’t say or post anything that you wouldn’t say face-to-face. Be aware that with online and social media communications, your thoughts can be transmitted quickly. Once these missives are out in the social media public, they have a long shelf life.
  2. Meet your customers’ needs. Communicate with prospects and customers on their schedule, via the channel they want to hear from you, and with a frequency they find acceptable.
  3. Know that every one listens to the same station, WIIFM (What’s in it for me). To the extent practical, make sure content is tailored to the listener’s perspective. Remember, that customers’ needs change over time and your information must evolve as well.
  4. Take the godfather’s advice. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Remember to treat all of your prospects and customers well.
  5. Realize that privacy doesn’t really exist in social media. The issue for companies is that one disgruntled customer can announce their grievance to a large audience. This negative feedback can spread rapidly especially if it’s funny or resonates with others. Classic examples of this happening are United Breaks Guitars and Comcast Technician Sleeping on My Couch.
  6. Respond to consumer issues quickly. Answer customer problems promptly using the same channel where the inquiry originated. If time is needed to reach resolution, keep the customer abreast of developments. Don’t use an autoresponder; to customers, it feels like no one’s home.

Remember it’s important to give consumers the information and support that they want and in the appropriate proportions. Smother them with too much or inappropriate communications and they’ll leave.

If you have any suggestions, please add them to the comment section.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Photo credit: Lori Greig via Flickr

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