These social media horror stories will give you nightmares

Social media horror stories

Trick or treat..? 

Last year, we shared some terribly terrifying tech PR horror stories. We can only hope that those of you brave enough to hear our cautionary tale didn’t make the same dreadful mistakes again.

This year, we’re tackling another frequently misunderstood area of comms: social media. This is an area that businesses can no longer afford to ignore: up to 33% of customers would rather contact a brand through social media than by telephone. Not only that, but 71% of customers that have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to someone they know.

Though social media is (in theory) very simple, getting it wrong can have catastrophic consequences – especially for a business!

Gather round, and turn off the light. It’s time to get spooky.

Mistakes, typos, and errors – oh my!

As a bunch of word-people, nothing makes us break out in a cold sweat faster than the fear that we’ve made a spelling mistake. Clearly, President Donald Trump has no such fear:

It’s generally assumed that President Trump was trying to tweet about a press conference, but really who knows? Maybe he thought that’s how you spell coffee?

Anyway, the point we’re trying to make is that everyone makes mistakes. And that’s ok – we’re only human, not machines. However, it is, of course, better to avoid mistakes where possible. Try to pay as much care and attention to your social media as you would any other comms channel. After all, it may be your main way of communicating with some customers. Every social media post should be accurate, professional and relevant – as well as perfectly summing up the values and vision behind your brand. Don’t be afraid to show personality, but do try to keep it appropriate and sensitive to your target audience.

Hashtag horrors

As we mentioned above, one of the best things about using social media is that it’s really easy to show a bit of personality for your business. In 2017, professional needn’t mean dry, stuffy, or corporate.

If there’s a trending topic or hashtag that’s relevant to your business, don’t be afraid to join in and share some content. However, if a trend or hashtag doesn’t suit your business, don’t force the joke for the sake of joining in. Likewise, give all your social media content a quick ‘sense check’ before posting – there’s nothing worse than a brand that’s not self-aware, posting inappropriate content. Other social media users will be quick to call you out on it, too.

Australian taxi firm, Your Taxi, was not popular with anyone when they tried to use Remembrance Sunday to push tweets about their business…

A little insensitive, perhaps?

Likewise, Urban Outfitters also ended up in hot water by using the #Frankenstorm hashtag – created for the extreme and dangerous weather conditions America was facing – to encourage customers to stay inside and online shop. Needless to say, they attracted some flack.

It’s not just hijacking existing hashtags that can be dangerous. Be careful of any hidden connotations when creating your own hashtags, too. The PR team who represents Susan Boyle are presumably still stinging over their careless hashtag for Susan Boyle’s album launch. While #SusanAlbumParty reads fine, #susanalbumparty… doesn’t.

You’d think marketers the world over would have learned from that one, but believe it or not, it happened again…

So, unless you enjoy waking up in a cold sweat and spending your daylight hours in a living nightmare, probably be careful with your hashtags, yeah?

Petrifying pictures

As we all know, images are a great source of social media content. In fact, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those shared without.

Getting your visual content wrong on social media can be the stuff of nightmares. One of the most common mistakes we see on social is posting incorrectly-sized images. If the image you post isn’t big enough, it won’t appear as full-width in your feed – it will be awkwardly left aligned. While there are worst mistakes brands can make on social media, this just looks sloppy and amateurish. While followers will forgive you for one or two slipups, they might start questioning your social media prowess if the same mistakes keep happening!

Check out this guide for all the social media image sizes you’ll ever need.

As well as being correctly-sized, your social media images should also be captivating and relevant. In our experience, pictures of people always perform really well, as does anything colourful. Check out this guide from Hootsuite to picking great social media imagery.

Phantom tweeters 

Though the social media horror stories we’ve shared are spooky enough, it’s the prospect of phantom tweeters that really has social media marketers waking up in a cold sweat.

What’s a phantom tweeter? Well, we made it up. It’s basically a spooky way of describing someone posting on your business social media who shouldn’t be. Whether that’s a junior intern, who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or an aggrieved ex-employee – the consequences could be disastrous.

Though 91% of retail brands use 2 or more social media channels, just 29% of businesses have a social media policy. That means they have no guidelines specifying who is responsible for (and trusted to) post on social media, as well as what’s appropriate to share. Check out this guide from eConsultancy that shares some helpful tips on what should be included in social media guidelines.

Unless of course, you want to end up like HMV…

Scared yet? 

Don’t worry – while getting it wrong can have nasty consequences, social media isn’t really a dark art! Just use your common sense, be creative, and if in doubt – get a second pair of eyes to take a look.

Still struggling? Why not get a social media and comms agency to do it for you.

Get in touch – we’re always happy to help.

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