Practicalities

6. Don’t try to do too much

Social media is always on and conversations about your brand can start in the middle of the night, at the weekend, on a public holiday or at any other time when you might not be paying attention. It can be easy to end up with one jittery social media manager anxiously checking Twitter at all hours or even with an ever expanding – and expensive – team of shift workers. You might want to cover all hours – and if so, you need to be sure you have appropriate resources – but it’s worth considering whether you really need to. It might be better to focus on publishing the best content that you can when most of your audience is online.

7. Use professional tools and analytics

Social media monitoring tools and services have come a long way over the past few years and there are now plenty of options for companies that want to track activity across multiple networks, coordinate team efforts and schedule content publishing. Services like Social Flow can help you determine the best time to publish content, while something like SocialBro can identify the key influencers in your online community. Together with a powerful analytics solution like Crowdbooster and a social media management tool like Hootsuite, you can put together a powerful suite of apps to control your social media presence.

Pitfalls

8. Be careful what you say

When fashion brand Celeb Boutique spotted the term #Aurora trending on Twitter the company tweeted that the term obviously referred to its Aurora dress. Unfortunately, the hashtag was about the cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. The company’s tweet was not an attempt to hijack the hashtag for promotional purposes – something that often happens and which is usually greeted with disdain – but a mistake resulting from a failure to check the true reason for the hashtag. It didn’t matter: the mistake was picked up on across the media.

9. Automated updates can backfire

Scheduling updates can be a good way to lighten the load on your social media team. It makes it possible to post out-of-hours or just to ensure that an important post will go out at the right time, rather than be forgotten. However, it’s important to remember what is scheduled and be prepared to change the plan in response to events. For example, during the horsemeat scandal, the Tesco Customer Care account tweeted that staff were “off to hit the hay”. Fortunately, customers mostly reacted to the tweet with amusement but it shows how an automated update published at the wrong time can cause problems.

10. Beware of promotions that can be hijacked

Social media is all about engagement and naturally companies like to use these channels to get customers involved. However, promotional events, such as asking customers to tweet something about your company using a specific hashtag can be hijacked. In 2009, Mars replaced the homepage for its confectionary brand Skittles with a host of social media feeds. Tweets mentioning Skittles were automatically posted onto the page, which caused problems once some of the social network’s more mischievous users figured it out. Instead, the company should have pre-moderated tweets if it planned to include them on the site.

Read Top ten social media tips for businesses: Part 1.

Author: Shane Richmond is a specialist in digital media, who writes about technology for the Forum:Blog.

Image: Staff monitor social networks at Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland REUTERS/Denis Balibouse