Today’s guest post was written by the amazing PR pro, CEO and author Deirdre Breakenridge. Team Belle is a big fan, and we know you’ll learn a lot by reading her tips on social media channels. Find out more about Deirdre and her work by visiting the Pure Performance Communications site!
Your organization may be active on social media, but can you tell if your channels are healthy communities or headed for trouble? Developing content, filling up your monthly calendars, timing your posts but then having a “let’s see if it sticks” attitude, is not enough. As a matter of fact, you have to be mindful and watchful of your channels at all times. Otherwise, what looks like great social media community participation can quickly turn into communication issues and unrest for your company.
Here are five warning signs that will help you identify if your social media channels are in trouble or headed for trouble down the road:
#1. You have too many channels with very little engagement. Here’s where companies think they need to be everywhere, on every channel. Absolutely not true! You are better off using your resources wisely, in a few places, where your audience frequently congregates. Don’t try to build community in 10+ places, where no one will pay attention to what you say or do. It’s okay to scale back and condense your participation if this is the case. Wherever you are, you need to be there, engaging and adding value to the community.
#2. Your channels have become SPAM centers for unwanted posts. When your community is littered with internal company marketing messages, it’s time to get a new social media plan in place or dust off the old one you already have. You need to advise people about best practices on sharing and develop a better internal workflow so that your employees know how, when, where and what is acceptable to post. Your employees also need to know the best way to get information into the hands of the marketing/PR department, for the timely release of meaningful information. However, if you continue with the “post your marketing SPAM approach,” you will see a mass exodus from your social media friends and followers.
#3. Your social media profiles are up and active, but they don’t reflect your brand. If you have a number of channels that all have different logos, imagery and inconsistent brand elements, or your tone, personality and messaging is inconsistent, then you will end up confusing your audience. The result may be less than desired participation or little interest in what you are doing in these communities. Your customers expect something from you, at every touch point, which is a part of your brand promise. Confusing them through social media is not living up to your promise.
#4. Your customers are sharing their thoughts and you’re not engaging with them. As a rule of thumb, if people take the time to comment, share an idea or give you feedback, then you need to take even more time to thank them and to respond. Relationships start with simple gestures, courteous behaviors and showing people that you actually care about what they say. Make it a habit to let people know that you appreciate their actions.
#5. The public is outraged and they are letting you know on your social media channels. The problem is that by the time you realize, it is already too late. Social media never sleeps and it doesn’t take a scheduled vacation; it keeps going even when you stop. Issues can bubble up into crisis after a few minutes, if left unattended. This type of situation clearly shows that monitoring is essential at all times, whether you are checking your communities or receiving alerts that clue you in to the issues as they arise. Depending on the size of your program and activity in your communities, it may be time to invest in a monitoring platform that will alert you and let you know if “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
These are just a few examples of what happens when your social media channels need your attention because they are headed for trouble. Of course, as technology advances and consumers become savvier, the list of trouble signs may grow. If you think about the early warning signs ahead of time, then you may steer clear of the trouble and keep your social media channels active and healthy with meaningful engagement.
Have you run into any issues with your social channels? Do you have a rule from your own social media plan that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Deirdre Breakenridge is CEO of Pure Performance Communications. She is an adjunct professor at NYU, a Lynda.com author and the host of the Women Worldwide podcast show. Her most recent book published by FT PRESS is Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional.