If you want to destroy your brand online, social media is one way to achieve that goal quickly and effectively. While social media remains a valuable tool in our marketing arsenal, you and your business must take care. Using social media incorrectly can destroy your brand and reputation quickly. It’s very hard to remedy this once it’s happened, so the best advice is to be careful about how you use social media as a business.

Destroy Your Brand #1: Capitalising on Tragedy to Promote Your Brand

It seems really obvious, but if there is a tragedy that has garnered a lot of social media attention, do not use it to promote yourself. You are more than likely going to be called out on it.

destroy your brand, branding, brand management, social media marketing, social mediaOn July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred inside movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and seventy others were injured. As the story unfolded on social media, the hastag #aurora began to trend. An online clothing boutique published what many call a “distasteful” tweet that apparently sought to capitalize on the word “Aurora,”. The boutique insisted that it was a genuine mistake and apologised, though for some, the retailer’s apologies weren’t good enough. The Internet vigilantes who act under the name “Anonymous” threatened to take down the Celeb Boutique site when the more recent incident occurred. The backlash against the company was widespread.

Destroy Your Brand #2: Putting the Wrong Person in Charge of Accounts

Think about it: your social media accounts portray who you are as a brand, are used for crisis communications, and are regularly used to connect with customers and other important contacts online. This is a high profile job, one that can truly make or break your online reputation.

Assigning social media duties to someone who is not prepared to take on the task is a big mistake and may destroy your brand.

For example, spontaneously tweeting controversial opinions or responding to customer complaints in an unfriendly manner on behalf of the brand – this kind of social behavior can be so damaging, and we’ve all seen these social media faux pas in the news. Brands must ensure social media teams are professional at all times and understand what is and isn’t permitted.

And these mistakes aren’t just fleeting moments: they can be shared, dwelled on, and live on for months or years. “I think many still don’t quite understand that in addition to viewing visible posts, pins, updates and tweets, anyone in your audience can screen grab, video or copy and paste just about anything that is on social platforms-and it’s even easier do this with the rise of mobile technology,” says online marketing consultant Laura Wallis. “What you wouldn’t do on a public street corner or in a conference room, don’t do on social.”

While it’s important to put a professional in charge of social media, assigning a responsible individual to social media duties isn’t enough. You’ll also have to set clear expectations and develop policies for appropriate communications. What are things your brand definitely doesn’t stand for? It’s a good idea to formulate a brand personality, which outlines that your brand won’t tolerate racism and sexism, for example. Another issue to consider is how to handle conflict. One mistake brands make is not having a policy for dealing with conflict which leaves you and your employees trying to wing it and having inconsistent practices. This is a problem because it leaves a window open for mistakes and will likely result in handling customer complaints poorly, and will ultimately negatively impact the brand’s online reputation.

Destroy Your Brand #3: Responding Unprofessionally (or Not at All)

Perhaps the easiest way to ruin your brand’s reputation on social media is responding unprofessionally to customers. Getting defensive, deleting comments, and blocking users is a very bad idea. And it’s a great way to lose control of your social media outlet. It’s not always easy to take criticism, especially in a public forum, but it’s essential that you remain professional, even in the face of negative feedback.

destroy your brand, branding, brand management, social media marketing, social mediaAll brand interactions on social media should be honest, kind and transparent, and consistently so. Anything more than this tends to get looked at under a microscope by customers, prospects and competitors. The rule of thumb is to always be the bigger person, whether you’re being called out by a competitor or a critic and only correct misinformation. If the issue deals with customer service, remember to remain cordial and kind. The best method here is to take the conversation offline and asking for an email address or phone number where you can resolve the issue amicably.

Never give into the temptation to argue online. It always makes the brand look bad.

Give customers a private channel for complaints if you don’t want them to end up in the public sphere, and make sure you deal with them promptly. People often turn to social media when they feel they haven’t been heard.

Above all, remember that you’re the professional, you’re representing your brand, and you’re the one with something to lose (your reputation — and customers). That means sneaky tactics like covering up negative comments or outright deleting them is a major no-no. This terrible strategy often makes a bad situation even worse. When you start deleting comments, people know, and they’ll try even harder to repost what they’ve already said. Worse, they’ll go elsewhere on social media to air their concerns, and you won’t have any control over what they say or how your brand is being tarnished.

Instead, like any customer complaint, treat it as an opportunity to fix a problem and turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one. Most people who are critical on social media just want to be heard. Most of the time, they legitimately had a negative experience and are disappointed. The best thing a brand can do is respond to them directly, apologize for their disappointing experience, and ask them to message you privately so you can come to a solution together. Sometimes an apology is all the person wants.

Destroy Your Brand #4: Using the Wrong Tone

This one is so easy to get wrong on social media. On the one hand, you want to be friendly and approachable, but on the other hand, you want to be professional. Trident University International content design specialist Daniel Sloan points out that often, social media users don’t take spelling and grammar seriously — but they should. “Even on Twitter, when one is restricted to 140 characters, it’s more effective to craft a tweet that uses proper grammar and spelling instead of one that resembles a 14-year old’s text message,” he says. Remember that social media is a communication tool, so just as you would spell check a letter to a client or a brochure, so you should also take care with your social media posts. Spelling and grammar errors make a brand look careless and indifferent, which is probably not the reputation you want!

All of these reasons help to explain why it’s often better to outsource your social media marketing to an expert rather than trying to do it yourself – and then having to clean up any mistakes. This is not just about marketing yourself on social media – it’s also about managing and advocating for your brand. To find out more or to obtain a quote, please contact us – we’re social media specialists.