6 Ways to Lose Customers, Credibility & Friends On Social Media

September 10, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

My morning alarm goes off at 7am. To be honest, it’s less an alarm to wake me and more to alert me that I haven’t checked Twitter in six hours. When I do take a hit, I find lots of people chatting about breakfast and what’s coming in their day. I also find people screaming, throwing things and promoting the same post from 12 hours ago. Looking for relief, I do what anyone would do – I go check Facebook. When I get there, it’s more of the same. More anger, more rage and more updates that make me want to delete all my social accounts and hide under my desk. By the time I scroll through it and finally get out of bed, it’s not the dog barking, it’s me.

I live in social media, but some days even I get the urge to run far, far away. Don’t get me wrong. I’m obsessed with the opportunities these sites provide businesses and brands of all sizes and I love the conversations. But sometimes that other side really gets to me. You know, the side where people are angry all the time.  It makes me wonder what people think they’re doing.  I bet your customers wonder and feel that way sometimes, too.

I’m not naïve. I get that that rants were created for social media. That kind of behavior practically is social media. And that would be okay if you were a normal person. But, the fact that you’re reading this means you’re not normal. You’re a marketer. You’re not in social media to stay in touch with your Aunt Alma and her seven kids. You’re in social media to market yourself, your business and build your livelihood. You have to act smarter.

I challenge you to take a look at your last two-three weeks of social media activity. What do you see? What do your customers see? It’s time for a reality check.

Do any of these social media behaviors sound familiar? If so, smack yourself. Then stop doing them.

You beg for favors before you’ve had a conversation.

Almost as awesome asking someone to pick their brain, is to beg them for favors before you’ve earned one. If you don’t know someone well enough to ask for a cup of sugar or borrow their phone, then you don’t know them well enough to ask them to write about you/link to you/promote you/hug you. Just because you have a business and an agenda doesn’t mean that social norms have gone out the window. The fact that you have someone’s phone number doesn’t mean you have the right to call them during dinner and ask to borrow $20.

Whine that social media “isn’t fair”/ [Social Media Guru] gets more attention than you.

If this is you, you need to go find a shovel and hit yourself in the face with it (it can be lightly). Your brand has been given this HUGE microphone to talk to consumers, potential partners and, essentially, the whole world. Are you really going to use it to whine that Chris Brogan and Danny Sullivan have more followers than you? Are you really going to moan that you should been included on that 10 Best list and that life isn’t fair? That’s the impression of your brand you’re going to choose to give off? One that says you’re lesser than and all you know how to do is whine about it? I mean, that’s one way to brand yourself. Another would be to go earn the attention and recognition you’re after. No one was born with a silver spoon. You create who you are.

Ignore your audience.

Hi. It’s called social media, right? You’re here to create relationships and build awareness for your brand, right? Then why are you ignoring your audience? Why are you not responding to their messages, ignoring conversations about your brand, and missing opportunities to assert yourself? If you’re going to invest time in social media, then stop ignoring the people you’re supposed to be connecting with. I’d rather a company not be on social media then have a presence and not use it.  When I send you tweets asking questions or inquiring about you, it makes me want to stab you when you ignore me. Also, stop talking about yourself while you ignore everyone else. You’re not the best thing ever. If you were, you’d have other people to sing your praises for you.

Bitch. About everything. All day.

Look, I know I’m not exactly sunshine and rainbows every day myself. When my computer dies, I go straight to Twitter to complain about it. When my lunch sucks, there’s no one I want to tell more than absolutely everyone. But I do my best to balance out the ranty tweets with information that my network will find useful or will at least inspire a smile. Aim to make 80 percent of your social messages useful to your audience and material that is helping you to build your brand. There’s a place for the “I’m so angry” spice-of-life stuff but be aware of the image you’re creating for your company by always coming off as the angry townsperson. It’s not natural to be happy all the time, but it’s not natural to be angry all the time either. And if you show customers that you are, then don’t be surprised when they start following your competitors instead. Some people are getting plenty tired of #fail.

Be a jerk.

You know when you’re being a jerk. You know when you’re being purposely rude. You know when you’re being condescending and when you’re simply correcting mainstream media’s bad SEO information. You know when you’re being useful and when you’re being, well, a jerk. If you can identify it, so can anyone else who is following your account. While it may be fun to throw things at people still learning, remember that you were learning once too. And that someone probably helped point you in the right direction. There’s a difference between pointing someone in the right direction and simply pointing at them. Making someone feel dumb is a great way to lose them as a customer or a friend forever.

Auto spam them.

I hope that there is a special corner of hell for people who use auto-DMs and messages to throw their stuff at me. If you are doing this, you’re a bad marketer. You may also be a bad person.

Businesses lose customers and relationships on social media when they forget why they’re there. Sure, your brand may be that you ARE a jerk to people and that you tell them off, but it’s more likely that it’s not. It’s more likely that people are following you for insight and conversation about your corner of the world. Keep those spice of life tweets in there. Keep the sunshine days and the rants – but use them carefully. Be aware of the overall picture you’re putting out there.  You’re not normal.  You’re a business.


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