Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Social Media Business Communications
There are some very obvious advantages to being available 24×7 as social media are, but there are also some potential drawbacks which can cause serious discomfort between online users, especially when businesses are involved. Those businesses which do have a strong social media presence must be careful to observe some rules of online etiquette which have evolved, so they don’t slip into some regrettable mistakes.
It is easy to imagine how costly an online gaffe could become if it were to alienate a number of users, and then those users shared the information with others. A recent survey explored this very aspect of online behavior on social media, and the resulting report bears close reading. The survey and the report were both developed by a company called Influence.co, and the title of the report which was generated is “Social Media Etiquette: Exploring the Code of Courtesy in the Age of Social Media”.
While this is a fairly heavy-duty title, the information contained in the report is something that all businesses should be aware of, so they don’t commit a grievous blunder online which could cost them a number of followers, as well as a corresponding negative impact to their business. The report makes it clear that the culture which has involved online is one which businesses must take note of, and must adapt their online behavior to accordingly.
In some cases, this might simply mean reducing the number of posts each week, while in other situations it might call for gentler language to be used in comments. The basic underlying concept is that behavior should be used which facilitates the overall purpose of social media, which is to bring people together. Anything which tends to drive individuals apart, or to alienate them from an individual or a business, should be discarded and forgotten.
Appropriate use of social media
These days, social media has become a huge part of everyone’s personal life as well as their work life, so there really might not be any situations where it should be considered off-limits. However, the information gathered in the survey referenced above shows that it all depends on who you ask, and it’s closely associated with the age group they belong to.
If you ask a number of people about how appropriate it is to use social media in the workplace, only 14.5% of baby boomers would say it’s appropriate, whereas Generation X individuals respond positively at a rate of 22.5%, and millennials consider it appropriate at a rate of 31.4%. Regarding how appropriate it is to use social media while in a grocery store checkout line, all three groups respond positively at a rate of about 60%.
When making use of public transportation, all three groups respond at a rate of 90% that social media is just fine for usage at these times. These are virtually the only situations that all three groups agree on though, and they have different opinions for practically all other scenarios. The difference in opinion about how appropriate it is to use social media in various situations tends to be most prevalent among age groups, and not in gender groups.
For the most part, both men and women feel similarly about how social media should be used, as long as they belong to similar age groups. Businesses need to take into account these differing opinions in specific demographics, so they don’t step on the toes of any one particular group. In fact, it might even present a unique opportunity to appeal to the specific demographic, by knowing when they feel social media usage is appropriate, and when they feel it should be avoided.
Common social media mistakes
The top three inappropriate behaviors on social media are considered to be bullying, promoting content which is discriminatory, and sharing fake news. Results from the survey indicated that all age groups felt the same about these types of behaviors, and that they were unacceptable on social media. While most businesses are aware enough that they don’t normally engage in posts of this nature, it’s a very common trend for individuals to fall into, and businesses need to avoid falling in step with such posts.
The next most common group of inappropriate behaviors include posting excessive selfies, revealing too much about one’s personal life, and complaints about various individuals in your life. These too, are behaviors which are more commonly associated with individual posts rather than business activities, but they are still behaviors which businesses need to be aware of, so some kind of instinctive reaction is not posted which falls into one of these categories.
Of those activities just mentioned, over-sharing is probably the one pitfall which more businesses are subject to than any other. This can happen very often in a social media campaign which you’ve launched, and which includes too much information about your company and its products. When this reaches a level of saturation, it can have very negative impact on readers, who will either ignore all the material it follows, or possibly un-follow the source of that information.
Another of the really common mistakes which businesses are subject to include excessive postings and excessive use of hashtags, as well as too heavy a solicitation for business. Most users in the survey responded that this was a big turnoff for them, and that they tended to ignore any business guilty of these behaviors. Businesses which are anxious to avoid alienating buyers and potential buyers should be very cautious about overdoing it in any of these areas, because it appears to be a clear breach of etiquette for many online users.
One of the other big areas which didn’t sit well with survey respondents was the use of political commentary or posts, and some respondents even indicated they were dissatisfied enough with these behaviors to completely disconnect from social media. This means that any business which is interested in complying with rules of social etiquette which have now evolved on social media, needs to take into account how users of today feel about those behaviors. By avoiding the most common mistakes, you’ll be much better positioned to retain good relationships with your followers and to achieve your business objectives.