Engaging in social media is vital for your offline business. Social media gives you a direct link to your customers and can help you find new ones. However, if your social media presence is managed improperly, it can actually be a disaster for your company’s image. Below, you will find some of the most common mistakes and ways you can avoid them.

Slow Responses

Social media is a great way to establish a positive reputation, but also has the power to destroy it. Social media is a platform where your customers have a clear voice. If a customer has a problem with your products or services, they can easily publish their complaint in a form where everyone can see it.

Damage control isn’t actually that hard, and is a critical part of social media. A complaint about your company isn’t immediately a bad thing, but it can turn bad when you respond too slowly or simply don’t respond at all. Monitoring your social media sites is a full-time responsibility. When someone complains it’s important to be there and respond professionally to the problem.

Responding the Wrong Way

A small complaint can quickly be escalated into a major issue if it’s handled improperly. If a customer is rude or insulting, you may be very tempted to respond negatively or be defensive. Even when the complaint is completely out of line or falsified, a negative response makes your business look extremely unprofessional. Be positive, constructive and professional about your responses.

While you can always delete a comment that you don’t like, this can cause even more problems in the long run. For somebody who saw the comment, and then see that you deleted it, it appears that you’re dealing with customer complaints by hiding them. The person who left the complaint will often come back with a much stronger complaint than before if you try to ignore or stifle their concerns, and can lead to real problems like filings with the BBB.

The Disaster of Self Promotion

The ultimate goal of social media is to help your business, but using social media purely as a channel to post your ads and promotions is not the right approach. Doing this shows that you don’t understand the real purpose of social media. Your customers are there to share their interests, meet other people and to socialize. They don’t want to be barraged by marketing all the time. Blatant self-promotion will drive people away. Instead, look at ways to get your customers excited and engaged with your brand, and make them happy about sharing your brand with others.

The Wrong Spokesperson

It can be extremely helpful to assign all of your social media management to an employee within your organization. However, it’s very important to choose the right individual. You need to select somebody that understands the spirit of social media and can deal with issues professionally. The wrong person might make the job too personal, talk about themselves too much, or tread on political or religious subjects that have no place in a professional context. Their job is to represent your company in a professional manner, and not get engaged in personal disagreements or post negative comments.

Social Media Disaster Prevention

Having a solid plan and policies in place can prevent social media disaster. Before a disaster strikes, have a plan in place and clearly understand how to handle special situations like customer complaints or negative comments. Make sure that everybody in your organization who has a hand in your social media management understands your objectives and best practices.