AKRON — I track many businesses on social media, looking to see what is working, what isn't and what can be applied to the tire industry.
Throughout the past few years, I've gotten a good feel for ways businesses can utilize social media, while also paying attention to up-and-coming trends.
However, throughout the years I have also seen some social media practices that have become my pet peeves. These are typically simple ways to increase engagement that businesses are not using properly or choosing not to use at all. When thinking of a blog topic for today, I decided to make my Top 5 Pet Peeves list for businesses online.
Here they are:
- Not connecting social media pages to websites
Social media used to be thought of as a new and trendy way to market and reach out to customers. Today, it is just another piece of the marketing plan and should be treated as such. There are times as a consumer that I am looking to tag a restaurant or service provider and look to see if the business has a Facebook and cannot find them. The first place I look is the company website and sometimes I find that a company is not connecting their social media pages to their website or vice versa.
The reason why this is one of my pet peeves is because if you want people to connect with you on social media, how do you expect them to find you? If you spend the time to start and work a social media account, don't you want customers and potential customers to see what you are doing? Yes, of course you do. So don't make it harder for them to find you — it is more important to you that they like your accounts than it is for them.
The same goes if you don't have your website listed on your social media accounts. If your ultimate goal for being on social media is to create brand awareness, then a part of that is to drive traffic back to your website so customers can see what products and services you offer.
Bottom line: Connect your online presence and even promote within your shop so customers can easily find your business.
- Not tagging other businesses or people when speaking about them
The above point hit the importance of connectivity between the different aspects of your own business, but this point talks about the options of connecting with others.
I see this pet peeve when companies are doing sponsorships. If you are sponsoring a local charity or giving out prizes connected to a sports team in your area, check to see if they have an account on the social media site on which you do promotions. Do you have a celebrity coming to your store to sign autographs for customers? Then tag the celebrity in your post about it. This will only benefit your business because it will expand the audience to include followers of those involved as well.
Additionally, if you tag the other business or person, it will notify them that they were tagged in your post and then you have a better chance of them sharing it. If they don't know what you are saying, how will they have the chance to share and engage with your content? Please note that on Twitter, if you want to start your tweet with the other account name, put a period in front of it, otherwise Twitter deems it a “reply” and only sends it out to people who follow you and the other account.
Bottom line: Tag appropriate companies and people when doing events with them to help expand your reach in getting the word out.
- Lack of obvious hashtags
I understand that not everyone is what I call “hashtag happy.” Meaning, you might not #hashtag something in every post you make. However, there are benefits to using hashtags and, if you aren't doing them at all, you are missing out. Some people might think hashtags are a waste of time because how are you going to determine that you are reaching your desired geographic location if you are a single shop. You may think: Does it matter if someone across the country sees your post?
This point is why I listed this pet peeve with “obvious hashtags” because there are ones that cater to your markets much easier than others. For instance, if you are a tire dealer in the Akron area, using the #Akron hashtag can put your post in the eyes of people searching for information about Akron. Many of these users will be in the Akron area, thus being in your geographic location.
Another obvious uses of hashtags is if you are tweeting or using Instagram to talk about something that is happening in your area. For instance, I see a lot of tire dealers talking about spring training and the beginning of baseball season. Well, those are some easy hashtags to use, including whatever Major League Baseball team you support.
Bottom line: Hashtags do serve a purpose, so use them — especially in relation to your location.
- Only promotion, no engagement
While some people may be interested to hear about your springtime promotion, it is not why the majority of people follow your business on social media. Thus, it shouldn't be the only information you are putting out.
This is a big pet peeve of mine because some companies still have trouble grasping the power social media can have for business. It is about engaging with your customers. If you are just posting about promotions and cannot understand why customers are not following you or liking your posts, etc., it is time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what you can do differently. Social media is a great tool to use because it lets you speak directly to the consumer, giving them information in the way they want to receive it. They might want to know about that sale you are having, but they also appreciate a joke, a giveaway of some kind or a picture of a cute dog “working” at the shop. It is important not to forget to engage with them, not just have a one-way conversation.
Bottom line: Social media is not just about sales and promotions — it's also about branding and engagement. If you aren't getting the engagement or ROI you desire, think about new information to post (and possibly how frequently).
Of all the pet peeves on this list, the one that makes me truly cringe is when I see negativity from a business page on social media.
While you can use this platform to education your consumers, such as posting some “How-To” tips on checking tire pressure or oil level, being negative is not a good approach. For instance, it's a good rule of thumb to not speak about religion, politics or anything that could be deemed controversial because although you may feel your opinion is justified and “in the right,” you do not want to alienate your audience.
If you really feel the need to post about something controversial — like a decision your city made about taxes or something like that — you can ask for opinions of your customers without giving one as a business. Just be careful if you decide to do this because you will need to monitor it very closely so it doesn't get out of hand. It is easy to cross the line and be taken down a path that, as a company, you don't want to go down.
This goes for speaking to customers online after being given a negative review. One of the biggest “rules” of service that you hear is “The customer is always right.” While that may not actually be true in many cases, engaging with them negatively online is not going to help your business. While you may have reason to be heated in a conversation, remember that other people are reading your comments, too. These comments can be shared in a matter of seconds online. Address negative comments without being negative yourself.
If you feel yourself going into a negative space, have someone else who is qualified handle the post and/or ask for the complainer's phone number or email address so you can have the conversation offline.
Bottom line: Integrity of a business is important to a lot of customers and you do not want to tear yours down in a moment of bad judgment.