For brand marketers, social media can be scary, because they’re accountable for every action there.
If they post something offensive, the brand can face serious backlash.
When Pepsi thought it was smart to capitalize on Black Lives Matter to sell more beverages, social media users indicated it was a bad idea. When a Ryanair steward failed to respond appropriately to a racist passenger, social media users made it clear the brand’s actions were inadequate.
Here are four of the worst mistakes companies make on social media, with ways to prevent future errors:
1. Joining a conversation three days after it’s relevant. Social media is a reactive channel, and brand managers often fail to provide timely takes on cultural moments. Laborious signoff processes and safeguards can slow larger brands’ reactions to cultural events, so by the time their response makes its way online, it’s no longer relevant.
Solution: Understand when your brand should and shouldn’t speak out. Ensure that your entire social media team has a deep understanding of the company’s tone of voice, so you can trust those people to react quickly.
2. Lacking self-awareness. Time and time again, brand marketers fail to understand how the company’s target audience perceives it. When Chase decided to tweet “why is my balance so low” followed by the mocking of “poor people decisions,” it displayed a lack of self-awareness. Financial institutions don’t have the best reputation for their ethics, so Chase’s post was questionable.
Solution: Don’t post just for the sake of posting. Businesses and agencies pressure team members to post a set number of times per day because they think an arbitrary quota will favor them algorithmically. Saying nothing is far better than saying the wrong thing.
3. Producing creative content without considering the different social media platforms it will live on. All too often, brand marketers take the same creative approach from brand photo shoots, TV ads and other marketing environments and post it on all the company’s social media channels, expecting it to perform.
Solution: Each platform has its own nuances, so produce content through a social media-first lens. Optimize online content for mobile viewing, in 1:1 or 9:16 ratio formats, with subtitles and meme bars. Be mindful of scrolling, and capture attention within the first three seconds. Consider the mindset that the viewer will be in, too, tailoring the content to each particular platform.
4. Controlling every aspect of influencer creative. Brand marketers have to protect themselves, of course, because a wrong creative step can have catastrophic consequences. Still, controlling every aspect of an influencer’s creativity can lead to inauthentic content—and audience rejection.
Solution: Give your influencers the freedom to shape their voice and engage their audiences. Provide clear guidance, with special attention on the things not to do, and collaborate on setting clear goals.
A version of this post first appeared on MediaPost.