It’s not fair of me to just say “do what Amy’s Baking Company did” and leave it at that. We’re going to analyze the 10 worst things that you can do to ruin your online reputation, in hopes that you won’t do them yourself.
Let’s start making the web a better place:
The Top Ten Ways to Destroy the Online Presence of Your Business
1. Engaging with trolls
There’s an old saying by Mark Twain which goes: “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Engaging in an open flame warfare with an internet troll is arguing with a fool.
If someone is blatantly saying pointless or offensive things, feel free to delete the most egregious of their comments if you have the ability. For those times when you do not, offer to speak with them personally via email or phone. Whatever you do, never further the discussion in a public forum for others to see.
2. Ignoring legitimate customer complaints
Your customers who complain would be your favorite customers. A mistake was made, and rather than walking away from your company forever, they’re allowing you a chance to see what went wrong and correct it.
Social media accounts are rife with negative comments. Dealing with them is much the same way as a troll. Publicly invite them to speak with you, do not allow the conversation to play out in public. Once you have them in a private discussion they’re just like any other complaint.
3. Inappropriately joining conversations
I’m not talking about making a fart joke here, I’m talking about approaching conversations with a sales pitch in mind. This is the wrong mindframe for social media.
Your concern should always be to offer a solution to a problem, or to offer useful information. If this fits into your products or services on offer, you know you’re being relevant to the conversation.
4. Not having any plan for your social media content
This can happen so very easily on Twitter: you haven’t said anything in a couple of days, you worry that your fans are going to forget about you, and you post something, anything at all, to stay on their radar.
Getting desperate in any situation is a bad idea. Desperate content reeks of poor planning and could be a bigger turn off than no content at all. Take the time to plan in advance.
5. Co-opting world events that are unrelated
Nothing drives me crazier than a social media account for a coffee company in America tweeting out pictures about a royal baby birth in England. It is blatant capitalism in regards to the birth of a baby, and it is completely unrelated to what you do.
If you’re guilty of something like this, be prepared for your fans to lash out at you. They follow you for relevant content, not to be inundated with the same crap that every media source on Earth is already reporting.
6. Not having control of your social media accounts
I’m not talking about hackers, I’m talking about not taking control of your social media accounts on the day you fire people from your social media team. This can lead to all kinds of awkward situations where things that shouldn’t be sent out over your accounts, are indeed sent.
7. Getting too close to sensitive subjects
Having contests on your social media accounts is great. Having contests that basically say ‘RT this message and we’ll feed starving children, otherwise…meh’…is not so great an idea. This is exactly the situation that Kellogg’s UK found themselves in, and they were routinely beaten for it.
If you’re going to help a worthy cause, do it, don’t hold your fans and followers hostage.
8. Trying to deny mistakes
Mistakes will happen. You will accidentally post personal things to your business account, you will accidentally send out porn to your fans when you meant to report it, you will be a human.
Trying to go into the ‘delete and deny’ mode will only cause further harm. Anyone can take a screenshot and prove you wrong, admit your mistakes and work to correct them.
9. Failing to protect your accounts
This time we are talking about hackers. Many social media websites feature two-step authentication. Taking advantage of this wherever possible will keep your accounts safe, and make it so you don’t wind up making apologizes for bizarre messages coming from your account.
10. Being a marketer
This is, in my eyes, the worst thing you can be. You know what I’m talking about? You only send out ‘our products are great’ messages, everything is an opportunity to extoll the virtues of product x, and you never, ever, ever try to engage with and build a community.
This will destroy your online presence just as well as any of the nine points above, but at least they’re more entertaining to watch from the outside!