Trick or Tweet: 7 Social Media Horror Stories

by | Oct 31, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive, Multi-Channel Marketing | 0 comments

Yes, it’s Halloween in the Twitterverse (and the rest of the social media world) — and to make sure that it’s all treats, and no tricks that can come back to haunt you, here’s a list of Halloween “don’ts” for marketers that make sense all year round.

  1. Don’t let personal comments (or prejudices) ruin your relationship with a big client or prospective client.  Consider what happened to this PR firm when one of its executives tweeted a negative comment about the home town of the founder of one of the agency’s largest clients.
  2. Don’t let customer service complaints take over your Twitter feed.  PC World uses Target as a cautionary tale to advise separating your customer service Twitter account from your marketing Twitter account if you handle a high volume of customer service questions.
  3. Don’t blame others for your social media and SEO mistakes.  ClickZ calls out politician Rick Santorum for this — it seems that the politicians website wasn’t optimized for the word “Santorum”, while a very adult site from another source was.  So Google results for the politicians last name were burying his own site on page two or three, while rating the other site(s) higher.  Instead of re-working the website, the Santorum campaign at first tried to blame Google for political sabotage, demonstrating clearly that they didn’t understand social media or SEO at all.
  4. Don’t let worry about regulations keep you from harnessing the power of social media.  Property & Casualty companies, for instance, have been slow to adopt social media — at the same time they recognize social media’s value in keeping in touch with policy holders, especially during disasters.  LIMRA’s Stephen Selby says, “The regulations are actually there to make it easier for companies to use social media — not discourage them from using it.  If you take time to understand them, they’re actually very helpful.”
  5. Don’t fall prey to InformationWeek’s two most common social media mistakes:  too much information  or all me, all the time.  (Do click on the InformationWeek link for Debra Donston-Miller’s excellent list of enterprise social media gaffe’s to avoid.)
  6. Don’t lose your job because you post an inappropriate photo of yourself on Facebook or a personal blot.  (There’s no link for this; dozens of people are fired daily for posting inappropriate content on the web — sometimes they’re told that they’re being fired because of the photo or comment, but more often they’re fired for violating company policies written as generalities like “professional behavior” or “appropriate dress and demeanor”.)  Halloween is often a time when people forget that what happens on Facebook (regardless of your privacy settings) seldom stays on Facebook.
  7. Don’t underestimate the power of social media and blogging by responding with cookie-cutter policy statements instead of personalized responses that actually address the customer’s concerns.  The link is to a great article on PR disasters that started as social media problems, specifically to the Alaska Airlines incident where a gate agent barred a family from boarding a flight because the mom was changing the baby’s diaper and arrived one minute late at the gate (dad was already at the gate, asking the gate agent to hold the door while his wife finished diapering the baby).  The mother — a noted blogger — got a rapid response to her blog post from the airline, but instead of addressing the specific situation directly, she received a form letter (posted to her blog) citing policy.  That made things worse, not better.

Happy Halloween to everyone — hope all your social media interactions are treats instead of tricks!

If you’d like to use social media to get more treats than tricks, contact us today!

Cartoon credit:  Australian cartoonist Scott Hampson made this cartoon available under a Creative Commons license on his website.   It’s a great source of content for bloggers and social media users, and we appreciate Hampson’s willingness to allow us to use his wonderful art here.