Social media is a big part of modern business and when done properly it can be an amazingly effective and rewarding means for organisations to engage meaningfully with their customers, and even other organisations. Anything with a potential for high reward however is often accompanied by a great deal of risk, and when something goes wrong it can gather momentum and spiral out of control with incredible speed.

The very nature of the internet means that the things you put on it have to be considered very carefully, as once something has been made public it is nigh impossible to fully get rid of it. This is why if an organisation is ever unfortunate enough to commit a serious social media faux pas they ought to focus their full attention on damage control, as the likelihood of being able to remove it before anyone notices is frankly extremely unlikely.

It can be very difficult to know what kinds of things you should and shouldn't do on social media. A lot of guides out there say that as a business on a social media platform you should be fun and easy going, but still have an air of formality and professionalism; which is basically meaningless and unhelpful. All is not lost though, businesses have been using social media for some time now and there is no doubt that best (and most funny) way of learning what kind of things you should avoid is by seeing where others have blundered.

Customer Service

Customer service is an essential part of modern business, and if conducted well it can be used to turn a disgruntled customer into a life-long loyal customer. If carried out poorly on the other hand....

The internet is on 24 hours a day, it does not go home at 5:30 and update itself the next morning when it saunters in to the office at ten to nine. Of course most companies cannot realistically keep an eye on their social media outlets around the clock, but when you are a large corporation who operates internationally, let's take British Airways for example, you don't really have that much of an excuse.

Current Events

Following current events is a great way of finding possible new avenues to market your products and build a bit of brand engagement, but it is important to pick your moments wisely or risk coming over as a little smarmy.

The Royal Wedding was a highly publicised affair, as was the birth of Will and Kate's son last Summer; but trying to capitalise on a big occasion that is getting a lot of attention may come across as though you are trying to ride along on its coattails. This is a risk that most companies will be happy to take though as it will drum up business and can be very lucrative; still there is one thing you should never try to benefit from no matter how many people are talking about it. A tragedy.

Inviting Criticism

Sometimes you will be forced (or not) to make an uncomfortable decision and will do something that people will probably not like very much. You can normally gauge quite easily what kind of things these are, and when you know that it is likely to get a bad reaction the best thing you can do is stay quiet and hope it blows over as quickly and quietly as possible.

Last Autumn British gas announced that they would be increasing their residential gas prices by 10%, and whilst it was obvious that this move was never going to be received with joy and understanding they tried to cushion the blow by giving their customers a means of initiating meaningful dialogue. Sadly for them, all they were able to do was provide their disgruntled customers a means of venting their anger, frustration and wit in a very public arena.

Remain Impartial

Social media is a great way of giving your company a face and a personality, and whilst people do appreciate being able to interact on a personal level, the last thing they want to do is get into a heated moral debate. 

It is not uncommon for newspapers to be biased, but when the Daily Express posted this on their Twitter they were explicitly putting their foot down on an issue; worse still their actions were interpreted, rightly or not, as nothing more than a flimsy attempt to try and sell more issues. People do not want to give their money an organisation who are trying to manipulate them or who's views are radically different from their own. Needless to say it is best to keep things as light hearted as possible in these situations. 

Don't Act Desperate

Much like the business in general, you want your the growth of your social media to be constant. The lengths that you should be happy to go to for a few more likes, followers, or just general exposure ought to be high as others will always be upping their game; still you have to make sure that while doing so you are not making it too apparent.

You can see why Kellogg's thought this would be a good idea, they could get some decent exposure whilst also feeding some underprivileged kids, win win. It did work to a point, as you can see that it did get 311 RTs, but some people on Twitter were less than impressed with their blatant attempt to garner greater exposure and raised some rather valid points.

Post By Alem