The “Don’ts” of Social Marketing: Pitfalls Your Community Should Avoid


Dec 4, 2012 | Social Media & Online

Today, social media is a powerful and fast-growing medium, which offers innovative new ways for businesses to communicate and interact with their customers and prospective customers. Because of social media’s ability to exchange information instantaneously and virally, it is being called by many marketers “the new word of mouth” — long held as the most powerful and influential form of marketing.

Used properly by senior living communities, social media can be a very effective in building users’ trust, interesting them in your business, and getting them to talk about it. Social media marketing can be a very effective business strategy for increasing brand strength and ultimately making sales and increasing occupancy.

However, just as there are “best practices” for optimizing the value of social media, e.g. targeting your messages to the adult female children of aging parents, there are also practices to avoid. Like any powerful communications tool, social media can be bad for your business if misused or misdirected. First and foremost, it is important to remember that social media was built around being social.

It is essential to be personable, honest, and to add value in order to engage users to interact with and about your business. You want them to trust you and feel welcomed and enlightened by your company, so then they turn around and create the “buzz” or positive word of mouth for you.

In his article, “Five Rules on How Not to Use Social Media“, author, Randall Gates offers fundamental guidelines for building users’ trust, interesting them in your business, and getting them to talk to others about it:

Rule No. 1: Don’t be dishonest

Most of us have been taken in by a false post a time or two. Overtly dishonest posts, comments, and reviews that are thinly disguised promotions… we don’t like them and our customers don’t either, so just don’t go there.

Rule No. 2: Don’t be annoying

Remember the chain emails of the early 2000s? Sure, those things went viral quickly, but nobody appreciated them. In the same way that you don’t lob useless information or advertisements at your customers’ inboxes, don’t spam their Twitters with less-than-brilliant blog posts or promotions.

Rule No. 3: Don’t fight the nature of the Internet

Promoting a product or a service online is a tricky business, as piracy, theft, and sharing are rife. If your product or service is threatened by the openness of the Internet, then try a different approach.

Rule No. 4: Don’t think social media will solve all your problems

Social media is merely one tool for a business. A great one, to be sure: it can be used for advertising, for gathering customer feedback, for getting your brand out there, and more. Encourage creativity in all parts of your business—product enhancements, new products, new ways to provide a service, new markets—then use social media to promote all that is fresh and exciting about your offerings.

Rule No. 5: Don’t treat each new social media sensation as the Holy Grail

Of course, it’s great to have as many promotional outlets as you can, but the risk is that you grab more than you can really handle. The danger is running after each social media fad of the moment. Focus on what works and then pick up new channels deliberatively, after you figure out how best to use each new one.

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