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January 11, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 10:32am

5 of the biggest social media mistakes CIOs should avoid

List: Hashtag happy? Confusing a reply for a mention? Get social media right and protect your brand.

By Ellie Burns

Social media has been elevated from digital novelty to a key corporate communications channel, valued by businesses big and small and used to spread the corporate message, interact with customers in real-time and reinforce the brand on a global-scale.

The need for strategy, management and monitoring of social media has never been more important, as one ill-judged tweet, Facebook comment or Instagram photo has the potential to become a viral, PR disaster.

The need for the CIO to understand the do’s and do not’s of social media is vital – protecting the brand is of paramount importance, which is why CBR has listed the main social mistakes to avoid in 2016.

 

Starting a tweet with @

If you start a tweet with @, for example @CBR, then that tweet will only be seen by you, CBR and your mutual followers. This is what is known as a reply, highlighting the absolute need to understand the difference between a mention and a reply. Replies are for when you want to directly communicate with another Twitter user, in a tweet which may not be relevant to the rest of your followers. If you use @CBR in a tweet, bar the beginning, then this will appear in your Twitter stream, visible to all of your followers and counting as a ‘mention’.

If you want your followers to see your direct tweet targeted at a specific user, then use a full stop before the @. An example of this is below.

Start a tweet with @ - social media mistakes

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Mixing business with pleasure

Today’s CIO is embracing all things social, but remember you are still a spokesperson for your company – no matter if you include ‘all tweets my own’ in your social bio. For the CIOs personal account, remember all and sundry can view most timelines like Twitter, so keep it clean.

For your company brand, however, the rules are different. Even through tweets and posts can be deleted easily, it only takes one person and a screenshot to immortalise a social mistake. Remain professional, check, check and double-check and broadcast relevant, positive tweets.

But we are, however, only human – if a personal tweet is broadcast accidentally on the brand channel, see if there is opportunity to turn the mistake into a joke – you never know, it could go viral which spells free PR.

 

Hashtag Happy

Many a CIO will know what a hashtag is, but are you falling into a common mistake and using them too often? Are you stuffing every tweet, Facebook update and Instagram post with hashtags? Do your posts look like the below?

Hashtag Happy - Social Media Mistakes 2016

Hashtags are designed to categorise posts, boost promotion and boost dialogue and promotion – so less is more. You do not want to overwhelm your followers with #longhastagsthatshouldreallybeasentence, while over hashtagging makes posts redundant.

Choose hashtags which are interesting, engaging and can be shared and used by followers for like-minded topics. This will help in gathering leads, building the right follower base and will aid in the promotion of your posts and pictures.

 

Hashtag Unhappiness

Many a brand have tried, and failed, to create or use a hashtag in the hopes of it being picked up and used by other social media users. In the hope of the hashtag trending, a long line of big brand names are evidence of the need for thorough planning, strategy and execution of even the smallest of social posts and inclusions – even down to a hashtag.

There are two examples of when hashtags can go wrong for brands – when a company tries to jump on an already circulating hashtag, and when a company tries to create a new one.

An example of the former is when a US pizza firm called DiGorno in 2013 started using the trending #WhyIStayed hashtag to publicise more pizzas. The hashtag was, however, for women of domestic abuse who were sharing their stories of abuse on Twitter.

With new hashtags, brands should never underestimate the response of the social media universe, with this illustrated by McDonald’s #McDStories. The hashtag was designed for users to submit their good stories about the restaurant, but was quickly used to broadcast negative pictures and stories from McDonalds – a hashtag fail which seems, as the below picture suggests, to be going strong 4 years later.

Hashtag Unhappiness - Social Media Mistakes 2016

A full risk assessment of any change in your social media strategy – even if this is a new hashtag – must be completed. Anticipate reactions, negativity and avoid anything ambiguous. Also look at the aesthetics of a hashtag – can it be read any other way? Avoid trending hashtags unless relevant, as this is a sure fire way to attract negativity and single yourself out as a user who likes to use spamming techniques.

 

Ignore feedback

Your customers are using social media, and many are turning the platforms into a 24/7 customer service channel. The importance of replying has never been so important and acknowledging customer tweets, even if negative, must be a priority for any brand or CIO.

Rather than cast complaints aside, address comments and concerns and you may build a reputation as having excellent customer service. Due to social media being a no-holds barred channel, many customers may be blunt, employ bad language and appear to pick a fight – but you must never respond negatively. Remember the whole world can see you and a screenshot of a bad tweet from a disgruntled customer is almost a guarantee.

Take for example, the London Overground twitter account which caused a Twitter backlash in 2014 with a sarcastic reply to a customer complaining about late trains (tweet below). The sarcastic reply caused a PR nightmare, again highlighting the need for measured, positive replies and feedback for customers who get in touch via social media – it will enhance the reputation of your brand, with people seeing value in your customer support.

Ignore feedback - social media mistakes 2016

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