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Marketing Focus – The Dangers of Social Media

Marketing Focus – The Dangers of Social Media

In this month’s Marketing Focus features, we look at very fashionable marketing medium of Social Media and look at some potential problems which businesses need to avoid. 

Social Media includes tools such as:

  • Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Forums

These have been developed for personal use, but are increasingly being used by businesses to interact with their clients, present up to the minute company news, share ideas and information. The aim is to attract a wide online following and create a positive community of businesses and customers which enriches the brand and complements your other marketing activity.

Everyone is talking about the marketing power of social media networks, but very few people know how to harness it effectively for their business. Here are a few common pitfalls of using social media for business.

It’s tricky, because using Social Media is very different from the safe, controlled way we present our brand every day – website, direct mail, leaflets and branded objects and advertising. We have total control over these materials and think carefully (or should do) about what these items convey about our brand.

When we bring our brand into the social media sphere things get more complicated. We need to give our businesses a friendly, approachable face so we don’t alienate web users by being boring and corporate. However, treading the line between friendly and fun and unprofessional is tough. You need to retain your professionalism without being stuffy and boring – not an easy task. Also, how do you interact with your followers on lighter subjects without losing your corportate identity?

Taking part in social media is very time consuming, especially if you try to have a presence in all the areas listed above. Experts recommend “tweeting” on Twitter several times a day and blogging once a week as a minimum. Add to this the need to monitor the forums for relevant threads to be part of and interacting with your fans on Facebook and you can end up losing half your working day to social media! However, there are ways around this, such as creating a lot of overlapping content and scheduling it to be published throughout the day/week and using monitoring tools such as Google Alerts to monitor the web and forums.

Businesses also need to be ready to deal with the bad as well as the good. If your blog or Facebook page becomes popular, or if you are taking part in forum discussions, you will be open to disgruntled customers and unhappy people who can complain very publically about your business. Obviously this is worrying, but it is actually a positive opportunity to defend your company and rectify the problem. If you handle these complaints well, it can be an excellent PR opportunity, but remember not to get angry or react in an unprofessional way. It’s easy to forget and do massive damage to your brand and your reputation.

These are just a few problems businesses can face when using social media, but there’s no doubt it’s a powerful tool when used correctly. Don’t worry, there’s lots of help out there from experts offering advice and tutorials about Social Media. If you follow me on Twitter, I regularly retweet useful posts about online marketing. My favourite website is Social Small Biz which offers lots of interesting and well-written content.

If you’d like to take part in Social Media but don’t know where to start, we can help. Shaw Marketing Services can offer Costa del Sol blog and Twitter writing services and advice on how to use social media effectively for your business. Email info@shawmarketingservices.com for more information.

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