Social Media for Professionals: Are you doing it Wrong?

September 19, 2013 Bria Jordan

In the last eight years, Social Media has changed the way most people use the internet. More than ever, we no longer go to the internet just to keep in touch with friends and family, but also to research products, discover trends and interact with brands and companies. As the popularity of Social Media grows, it’s now essential that Marketers and Brand Managers use these platforms to their advantage. It’s a perfect opportunity to get direct customer feedback and reinforce the company’s values, but it can also become a disaster if handled incorrectly. Interacting with customers isn’t as simple as pushing out a few tweets or updates a week; it takes time to plan and ensure consistent, quality interactions that will resonate with your users.

Interaction often equals Satisfaction

Although some brands/spokespersons choose not to pursue this, I find genuine interaction in Social Media to be a conversion point for potential customers. Social Media has become the go-to for customer service, and how compliments and complaints are handled online can seriously influence public opinion. For instance, when British Airways ignored Hasan Syed’s complaints about lost luggage, he bought sponsored Tweets in two major markets (New York City and United Kingdom) to voice his frustration.

Instead of public backlash, other disgruntled customers and even rival airlines weighed in on the issue. British Airways waited over seven hours to contact Syed, and their replies were not considered genuine or helpful, which further exasperated the entire situation and exposed some major failings in BA’s customer service responses:

This is just one of the examples of a corporation’s failure to utilize Social Media effectively: Applebee’s, Kenneth Cole, and Celeb Boutique have all faced international backlash over their poor judgement on Social Media. However, there are examples of companies who take responsibility for their mistakes:

This tweet came out just after the Casey Anthony trial. Quickly realizing the issue, Entenmann’s apologised and acknowledged the issue directly, eliminating the opportunity for public backlash while tacitly reinforcing their respect for their customer base.

Consistency and Timing Matters

Consistency plays an important role in developing an audience through interaction. If your message is being distributed through several platforms, part of your marketing strategy should be devoted to direct engagement and monitoring interaction. When it comes to different Social Media platforms, publication times also matter. Why write that wonderful, relevant content if it’s just going to be lost in the shuffle? This is one of the most important elements of content marketing that people overlook. Timing is also important when it comes to specific Social Media platforms, so consider researching optimal publication times.

For instance, if you’re publishing to Facebook, it’s best to publish between 1 and 4 p.m. during the week (peak time is 3 p.m.). In the same vein, publishing after 4 p.m. or on weekends will guarantee that fewer eyes will see it. Although you could argue that reminders or reposts later could help drive traffic, you’re still lessening the chances of growing the article from the start. By publishing at the right time, it better improves the opportunity for the audience to interact with the article through comments, traffic or sharing.

At the same time, do not assume that publishing during the work day is the best way to drive traffic. LinkedIn and Pinterest see peak traffic during off peak hours. If you’re posting on LinkedIn, before or after the business day is best. Pinterest’s best times are early afternoons, later evenings and Saturday mornings. If you’re asking ‘why would I publish work things after work hours?’ it’s best to remember this: it’s not about our schedules as Digital Marketers, but the schedule of our audience. LinkedIn sees the best traffic before and after work because jobseekers can’t look for new positions during work hours. Pinterest sees most traffic during evenings and weekends because its users are there for personal reasons. By keeping user habits in mind, you will build your audience by addressing their needs before your own.

As it’s a relatively new facet of Marketing, there are still many questions about how to best leverage Social Media in the business world. Though many of us use these platforms for personal use, it’s entirely different when representing an organization. Maintaining a timely and consistent presence on Social Media can establish your brand in a positive light while building an audience (and the metrics that go with it). Genuine interactions are the best representations of a brand’s values; as users become savvier, it’s becoming more important to deal with both positive and negative interactions in an honest, forthright way. After all, if we’re not here for our audience, what are we here for?

About the Author

Bria Jordan is a Search Engine Optimization and Social Media consultant. A published writer for the last 14 years, she can often be found celebrating her off-time by bicycling through the city or cooking. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two cats.

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