How Your Social Media Antics Are Hurting Your Business and Career
It's time for some tough love. I couldn't think of a more straight to the point title than the one that I came up with. Social media is a huge factor when it comes to someone buying a product or investing in a service. Before I buy a product I've never tried, I always Google and try to find the company's social media pages. I look for pictures of the product, reviews, customer service interactions, etc (and I've been this way before I was ever even interested in marketing). I check their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Google+, and click around on their website to make sure they're the company I want to go with. I thought I was a little anal but apparently I'm not alone. According to brafton.com, "89 percent of consumers turn to Google, Bing or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses prior to making purchases."
But I'm not here to throw statistics at you when you're a consumer and you know what you look for when turning to a new brand that you've never heard of. So it should be instinctive that since everyone is a consumer of something, we should know what to do and what not to do, right? WRONG!
Social media is oftentimes thought of as "out of sight, out of mind." For some reason, some people think that the boss you're complaining about on Twitter won't see what you wrote about him just because he doesn't have a Twitter account or that friend won't know that condescending Instagram post was about them because they live on Facebook. In reality, it is all online for everyone to see so even if the person you're talking about doesn't see it, it can very well get back to them. The same goes with your business behavior. I've seen some businesses with great products that I could not invest in because their social media behavior deemed them untrustworthy, lazy, or simply lacking couth and I don't want that to happen. I want your business to succeed, I want you to get those sales.
That being said, here are my "5 Big No's" when you have a social media business account:
1. Bad-mouting your clients or someone else's clients. We all get frustrated and marvel at how absurd and difficult people can be. However, you should never ever vent on social media about it especially when they are your customers- the people putting their hard-earned money into your business. Business owners sometimes feel a sense of entitlement in thinking that their product is so great that they are doing you a favor. Once upon a time, their was a woman who constantly complained about everything her customers did from squeezing into the wrong sizes, to kids running around the store, to complaining about her customers' behavior. She faced a backlash and complaints from buyers, which resulted in a boycott from her store. The company struggled to keep customers and she was eventually fired. If you're having a bad day or are dealing with an overbearing client or customer, do not take it to social media. I don't care if you have to meditate, call up your best friend, or write in a journal, don't you dare log onto Twitter! And don't make fun of someone else's clients either. If a client doesn't understand a service or business, then help them, don't patronize them.
2. Uploading client information. I know you're happy about getting sales. I get it. People love your product, you have so many inquiries coming in, you don't even know where to start. You're so excited, that you take a picture of all of the customers buying products and all of the e-mail inquiries you're receiving. Big mistake. One of the things people love about shopping online or sending an e-mail is the discretion. Even if what they're buying isn't secretive, you should not upload client information unless they have told you it's okay with them. Any time I see a business owner doing this, I opt out of buying their product. I don't want what I bought and how much I paid for it all over the internet.
3. Not interacting with your customers. If a customer has a question such as "What colors do these come in?" or "Can you tell me a little more about this service?" you should always take the time out to answer their question. Many customers feel snubbed when their inquiries go unanswered and are likely to turn to a business that has more time to invest in quality customer service. If a client is not happy with your product or service and leaves a comment on your social media page, don't delete it or ignore them. Instead, respond with how you can make it right and offer them something for free or a discount/refund for the inconvenience. Not only will you most likely keep them as a customer, you can turn a bad review into a great one.
4. Telling your personal business. You had a bad breakup, you got into an argument with a close friend, or you have a ton of family drama- keep it off of social media. It's unprofessional and it makes you look like you're not in control of your personal life, much less running a business. I actually saw a business owner online detailing the drama between her and her boyfriend and a customer wrote, "I guess this is why it's been 3 weeks and I still haven't received my order." Don't let that happen to you.
5. Bashing your competition. Someone stole your design and are selling it at a lower price, a company is patterning theirs after yours and mimicking everything you do, or an online store is stealing your photos... what do you do? Certainly, do not give them free publicity by telling your audience not to shop there. The customer may look at their website and social media pages and the rival company could possibly steal your business. It's best to take it up with the business owner and if they refuse to cooperate with you, you should know that a company low on morals never has lasting success anyway. If your product is a better quality and you have priced it and marketed it correctly, your customers will remain loyal. Talking bad about another company just makes the consumer want to see what the fuss is about. If they weren't a threat, you wouldn't be so upset.
I hope this blog was helpful to you and you can avoid these social media pitfalls. What have you seen on social media that turned you off from hiring a business? Let me know in the comments!