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How NOT to Use Social Media Marketing

As one of the hottest topics in B2B marketing, social media usage is the subject of multiple articles, blogs and webinars every day. But when it comes to putting social marketing tactics to use, condensing all these ideas into a defined social media strategy can be more than a little overwhelming. So take a refreshing break from all the hints, tips and best practices, and instead focus for a moment on what not to do in the world of social media.

For the ultimate example of how not to use social media, take this story of a restaurant’s serious Twitter folly discussed in a post on Digital Pivot E-zine. In this rather extreme example, the restaurant responded to a tweet from a disappointed customer who arrived at the restaurant to find it had already closed. When a friend of the customer posted a mildly disgruntled comment on the restaurant’s Yelp page, the restaurant’s tweets turned sarcastic and insulting, eventually escalating to the point of the restaurant cursing at the customer.

Yikes. Not exactly the respect and class with which you would expect a business to treat a potential paying customer. And it’s inspired us to highlight two crucial points to keep in mind when interacting on social media:

Anonymity can lead to rudeness
The feeling of anonymity that social media creates can result in people saying things that they wouldn’t normally say in person (case in point: the unnecessarily scathing reviews often seen with YouTube videos). Keep this in mind, and whatever you do, don’t answer rudeness with rudeness. As the Digital Pivot article notes, “bad comments about a company are a fact of life” — and are by no means an excuse for you to sacrifice professionalism. Instead, turn rude comments into an opportunity: responding promptly and with complete civility will leave even your harshest critics feeling a bit sheepish.

You’re writing your own permanent record
In the stark light of morning, the restaurant in question quite obviously regretted their rash tweets (“Today’s special: contrition”). Too late. Twitter is a public forum, and things said in a public forum can be remembered forever. Evidence? Aside from being tweeted about all over town and by social media experts everywhere, there are now at least two blog posts commemorating this whole ordeal. So remember that having 15,000 Twitter followers can be both a blessing and a curse, and always take a step back and think carefully: do i really want to leave 15,000+ people with this lasting impression of my business?