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5 Ways That Brands Have Failed In Social Media

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media

This week I authored an article entitled 5 Ways Brands Fail in Social Media that was published on iMediaConnection, a go-to publication for digital marketers. In the article, I address the necessity of having a social media strategy, by highlighting the five key ways brands mess up their social media campaigns- again and again.

  • Waiting too long to respond or not responding at all
    • We need to understand that conversations about our brands are already happening across social media channels. As such, a key to social media success is learning how to be part of these conversations, which means that if there is a break through or a scandal regarding our brand, we need to respond, and quickly.
    • Current example: Tiger Woods, who waited nearly a week to post a comment on his website about his Thanksgiving car crash and the circuit of rumors regarding the welfare of his marriage.
  • Using social media only to push your own marketing agenda
    • The crux of social media is about interacting with other people on the internet. When brands use these outlets to generate a one-sided conversation about their latest ads, products or sales, it makes it difficult for anyone else to participate.  Instead, enter the conversation ready to listen with people who clearly, as Twitter followers or Facebook friends, support your brand.
  • Abandoned profiles
    • Worse than not participating in social media at all are profiles that were created and then forgotten. Whether it is the fears of missing out on their brand name Twitter username or idleness, according to TechCrunch, 80% percent of all Twitter accounts have fewer than 10 followers, 30% have none and 25% of all accounts do not follow anyone else.
  • Forgetting that the little guy’s voice can be just as loud as yours
    • If you are a brand, the social media era means that you have now have to be more careful about customer service than ever before. One person with a bad experience has the agency, through Twitter, Facebook and countless forums, to reach millions. If mistakes are made, the best policy is to fix them early, before they explode.
    • Example of explosion: United Airlines- the airline that breaks guitars. Nearly two years ago, David Carroll witnessed baggage handlers violently flinging guitar cases out on the tarmac. The owner of a $3,500 Taylor acoustic guitar, he immediately reported what he saw to the flight attendants, who were indifferent to his panic. When he arrived at his destination, he found that his guitar was in fact broken. No one at United took his claims seriously, until Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, wrote a song and produced a video about the incident that went super-viral.
  • Failure to moderate
    • Social media is celebrated as a democratic media channel, where everyone has a voice, which can be both a blessing and curse. People are going to say nasty thing about your brand, you just need to know when to shut them out. Respond politely to comments that merit a respond, delete those that are spam and know when to leave a conversation be, i.e. stay out of conversations about religion and ethics.

The ultimate key to avoiding these social media faux-pas is to enter the game with a premeditated social media strategy. While it is an evolving media, where the rules and trends are consistently shifting, a flexible plan is better than none at all.

For a more thorough explanation of these common mistakes made on social media, make sure to check out the original article on iMediaConnection.

About Drew Hubbard

Drew has over 8 years experience in the Internet space, including hands-on web development, technical support, online marketing and all aspects of SEO, SEM, social media, email marketing, lead generation and affiliate marketing programs. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri and a graduate of The University of Missouri, Drew moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to continue a marketing career in film and television. He soon transitioned exclusively to online marketing and in the spring of 2008 joined The Search Agency where he manages innovative promotions and social media programs. Most recently, Drew has spoken about video optimization at SMX West and ad:tech.

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13 Responses to “5 Ways That Brands Have Failed In Social Media”

  1. David Hughes says:

    I love the united airlines example of how anybody with a good (or bad in this case) story can impact a brand either positively or, in this case, very negatively.

  2. Steve Daleke says:

    I agree strongly with David re: the United Airlines example. Case in point: I travelled this past Thanksgiving to visit relatives with my Taylor acoustic in tow…after first booking with United, I decided to double-check with YouTube to see which airline was indeed the guitar destroyer; needless to say, I ended up flying Southwest at a much less convenient time, but at greater peace of mind for me.

    Love the new website, especially The Search Agents!

  3. Barbara says:

    I hadn’t seen the United video but love it and it is a great reminder to brands that consumers aren’t limited to word of mouth when they have something to say about you (good or bad). With social media and the many outlets available, word can spread quickly when you have done right or wrong by your customers. Great article – and examples.

  4. Alec Green says:

    The United example shows that bad news or negative coverage spreads far more quickly and widely than good news or positive adoration. Unfortunately, most people are fascinated by scandals, misery, and failure and will barely acknowledge success, achievement, or flawless execution.

    Seriously, if the broken-guitar owner had written a song about United getting him to his destination on time and offering him a free cocktail on the flight, would anyone take notice?

    But to Drew’s point, any business will have customer service missteps. If United had dealt with the situation the right way up front, they could have turned a very negative situation into a positive. And Dave Carroll would have had to come up with a new idea for a song.

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