If you’re a business owner (or a marketer for your company) and you take part in social media, have you thought about if the way you’re using social media is actually helping or hurting your business? There’s a huge fallacy out there about social media which revolves around the thought that if a business is involved in social media, it automatically means that their business is benefiting from it.
The truth, however, is very different. Your business only benefits from social media if you’re using it correctly and you’re properly engaging your followers. When social media isn’t used properly, it can destroy your business.
Business owners don’t sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or any other social media platforms to ruin their business. Sounds so obvious, right? Although the intention going into things is usually good, it doesn’t take long for things to take an ugly turn. One mistake, one customer, one instance of accountability being questioned is all it can take for a business to suffer a loss. There’s no office door to hide behind and there’s no receptionist to turn people away that you don’t want to see – when you’re on social media, everything’s out there and transparency is the most vital part of the process.
I know this all sounds terrifying but before you go running for the hills and as far away from your social media accounts as humanly possible, remember that it’s extremely important to know the downside of social media. If you’re not aware of what can happen, then you’re not going to be aware of how to prevent it.
Once negative information is out there, it’s out there for good, which is why preventing a social media disaster is the only fool proof way of making sure that it doesn’t happen to you.
If you’re still not convinced that there’s anything to worry about in regards to social media, here are 3 of the most common ways that social media can destroy your business.
1. The Public Argument
Scenario: A customer confronts you on your social media account in regards to something that they’re unhappy about. You try to politely respond and correct the situation but the customer isn’t having any of it. No matter what you say or do, the customer can’t be made happy. You start to get worried about what other followers are making out of the situation and the small confrontation turns into a full blown argument where you’re defending yourself and your business to the customer.
Lesson: It’s natural to want to defend yourself but if at all possible, take it out of the public eye. You can suggest that you’re only further able to help the customer if they email you or call you. If they’re not willing to do that, your other followers will at least see that you made an effort to take care of the problem but the customer refused. If you argue, it’s never going to portray your business in the best light. Before you know it, your little argument with your customer is now plastered on other profile pages and on other social media networks. It can take a long time to recover if you become defensive on social media and sometimes it’s hard to recover at all.
2. The ‘Silent’ Type
Scenario: This is a real life scenario that happened to me. A few months ago, a business that I was loyal to (a certain mobile phone company who shall not be named) changed their pricing structure and I became unhappy about it as a lot of people naturally do if prices go up. But it wasn’t simply a small increase; it was a pretty large jump that made it almost impossible for me to continue my customer relationship with the company. However, as I had been a loyal customer of the company for several years, I wanted to make it work if it was at all possible.
Knowing how powerful social media is, I turned to one of their social media accounts once I never received an email response from them (which was the company’s first mistake). If I would have received an email response, the issue could have been discussed privately. I did receive an immediate response on their social media account but it was a complete run around and the answer provided didn’t make any sense at all. I then pushed for additional information and received no reply! I tried a couple days later and once again, no reply. Was I just being ignored? It felt like it!
Lesson: There are businesses out there that when confronted by customers on their social media accounts, they fail to address any issues. If they do attempt to address them, it comes in the form of a vague answer that’s not even relevant to the question asked. If you’re not taking care of your customers in front of dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of social media followers, then your other followers can get the impression that you’re just going to ignore their problems as well. No one wants to deal with a company who refuses to address customer service issues.
3. The Desperate Company
Scenario: It’s pretty easy to recognise the businesses who use social media and fall under this category. You may even know of a few. It’s the over the top “please, please, please buy my product,” and/or “I am the best at everything”. This is the “I am going to shove my business down your throat every single second of every single day until you buy something from me (or block and report them)”.
Lesson: People are sick of the desperate companies who do nothing but spend all day flooding your streams with advertising. No one wants to deal with an over pushy business who cares more about making a sale than they do building engaging relationships with their customers via social media.
There’s a fine line between marketing and being too pushy. Your followers want to be engaged, they want to learn and they want to trust you before forking over any cash. It’s not the quickest route, but it’ll help keep your business on good terms with the rest of the social media community.
Remember, on social media, everything is transparent. From the way you handle customer service to your personal thoughts and feelings. By knowing what can happen, you can prevent it and that gives you the power to be more successful if you’re using social media as part of your online marketing strategy.