Categories: Content Marketing

How Top Brands (Should) Avoid Social Media Mistakes

Categories: Content Marketing

How Top Brands (Should) Avoid Social Media Mistakes

Nov 18, 2014

5 questions to ask before you post…

The media loves pointing out the foibles, missteps and outright cringe-worthy mistakes that brands make on social media. While it’s an amusing, lesson-filled pastime that’s pretty darn easy to do, brands don’t love this type of attention (who would?). Ironically, these social media mistakes are amplified through the exact means by which they were discovered.

The fix is simple: assume that anything that can go wrong will, and ask yourself the following questions EVERY TIME (yes, CAPS!) you post on social media.

5 questions to ask to avoid social media mistakes

1. Could this post be taken out of context?

This one is simple – read your post and ask if anything could possibly be taken out of context and used against you. Glomming on to a trending hashtag might be tempting, especially if it remotely links to your brand, but be sure that you’ve thought of every possible angle for that seemingly original hashtag, unlike J.P.Morgan last year.

2. Is this post adding value for my users?

It should be a gut-check of “yes” or “no”—You shouldn’t have to think about it. The goal is to reach your followers at that moment, command their attention, and drive them to action—whether it’s commenting, sharing, or clicking over to your site. Unless you have something of value to say that’s different from the pack, don’t bother. Be original. Be bold.

3. Is this post right for every social channel?

A few years ago when social media was still a novelty, it was mildly understandable that brands posted similar content on all channels. The training wheels were still on for the majority of companies. But times have changed—and so has the audience. Overall social knowledge is more sophisticated, expectations are higher, and yes, readers will notice flaws and inconsistencies. A lazy “publish all” approach doesn’t respect your readers and can have consequences, just like any relationship where you’re not putting in 100%. Virgin Air, as an example, has perfected the art of intimately engaging with its followers in just the right way on each of its networks. It has a fun, cheeky brand personality that is fully reflected on Facebook, but on LinkedIn their business-y tone strikes just the right chord (without being dull). While this may seem obvious for brands to do, not every airline is not properly minding the store-period.

4. What could go wrong with this automated post?

A lot of companies schedule social media updates, and in theory it makes sense if you’re innocently wishing your customers a happy holidays or building up to a product launch. I mean, what could possibly go awry? Well, we know what can go wrong.  Even something as straightforward as posting your flash sale link could be disrupted by a competitor beating your deal or hijacking the day with a new ad. Think of your social media as hand-crafted communications aimed directly at your audience, because they are.

5. Is this post the complete picture? (literally)

We’ve all heard the power of visuals; People remember images 80% of the time and text a mere 20% (gee, I hope you’re still reading this). Twitter links that have photos get 3x the amount of engagement. The stats go on and on. Instagram or Pinterest are natural fits for graphics, but when it comes to other networks, this instant engagement sparker is overlooked in a time crunch, or worse yet, because of poor imagination. Sometimes a pictures speak 1,000 words—or dollars. The good news is you can blend those visuals and text smartly both these days. Witness Infographics, the most popular form of shared content in 2014. Their emergence reinforces the fact that readers want both. Oh, and here is what not to do,  otherwise known as “infocrapics.”

Well…do your social postings pass muster? These are not the only barometer to fully vet your platforms’ strength and consistency with your brand, but a strong way to start the process. And if you have to think too much about the answers, it’s time to ask the hard questions.

Janice Cuban @JaniceCuban
Contributor Bio: Janice Cuban is a communications consultant based in San Francisco, Ca. She helps B2B, B2C, and small businesses find their inner content voice and shout it to the world (or at least to their target markets). Janice is also a blogger, freelance writer, and lover of all things marketing, technology, and trends. Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and at
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