5 social media mistakes that make your enterprise look dumb

Social media can help you engage with customers, partners and employees, but the road to success is littered with many casualties. We thought it may be useful to publish a collection of classic social media mistakes enterprises should avoid.

don’t make them wait

Don’t make customers wait for a response if they contact you via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ or any of the other myriad of services your brand may support.

72 percent of your customers already expect brands to reply within the hour (Lithium).

Customers expect your social media feed to be at least as effective and possible more effective a way to make contact as calling you up on the phone.

Young, free and single fully employed millennial customers, who bought a download and never held a CD, are likely even less forgiving – those digital natives are the customers you need to keep tomorrow.

This applies equally as much if you’re attempting to get employees to use internal tools, such as Yammer. Employees need to know what these tools are for and what their responsibilities are, while management must lead from the front. A staff vacation request on Yammer should not be left unanswered for long.

death by committee

So your tech support department received a marketing query and sat on it for a week before mentioning it in an all-hands meeting? Or your sales team deleted a Tweet requesting product support?

If your business encourages a narrow approach to responsibility then scenarios like those above will happen. After all, your customers don’t know which department is in charge of which social media feed – and why should they? It’s your job to make these systems work together.

It’s your job to break down the inter-departmental walls.

“Social media programs are now enterprise-wide and no longer confined to marketing,” said Vinay Bhagat, CEO or TrustRadius. “An increasing number of customer service incidents are first reported on social, and there’s an increasing expectation of a response,” he says.

When deploying an internal network, business leaders should be consulted to define how it can be applied in their departments.

keep it real

Social media doesn’t provide a get out of jail free card for enterprises that offer a pleasing public face but don’t back it up with pleasing action. Word spreads fast, customers learn fast, and pretty soon your social media outreach will erode your customer’s trust in you – the last thing you wanted it to do.

Be genuine. This means matching words with action and maybe under-promising in order to over-deliver. Use social media as a way to build relationships with customers, not for broadcasting messages.

Engagement is challenging. It means your enterprise needs to develop data infrastructure to assemble information from multiple sources, share it across the company and make real-time actions in response to events.

Work to convince employees to embrace these new tools – it’s not enough to simply train them in their use and walk away, as your workers must choose to engage with them.

Focusing on user interfaces and reward-based gamification set-ups within your applications may help get your “people” using both external and internally-facing social networks.

manage effectively

How much time does your enterprise waste logging in and out of your various social media feeds? How many people does it take?

Make it simple on yourself and get clued up on social media marketing platforms that let you curate content inside multiple accounts. Some entry level solutions that might help include Everypost, Spredfast, Drum Up, Social Oomph and Postling.

Once you have your social management solution deployed, apply it across your enterprise, and make sure that you and all your teams with responsibility for social media are on the same tools, as well as the same page.

And put these tools deep inside the daily workflow. These aren’t bolt-on processes, these solutions are core to the business.

information is power

Just because you are communicating via social media doesn’t mean you can deal with customers on an ad-hoc basis.

It’s not OK to give different responses to different customers or different channels, enterprises at any size need to pre-empt events to provide consistent response.

This means you should equip your social media agents with the tools they need to provide smooth and consistent answers to customer communications.

Otherwise social media streams will become flooded with reports of your inconsistency.

42 percent of senior marketers who define and own their marketing technology strategy see a greater business impact than those who do not, according to a recent CMO Council study.


The business potential is huge, but you need to commit. You, your senior managers must lead from the front to motivate your teams.

Want to find out what Orange Business can do to help with your social efforts? Read our take on the new workspace here. Should CIOs tweet? And have a look at the Orange Group social media guidelines to see how we approach it.

Jon Evans

Jon Evans is a highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men's interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.