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Top 3 Social Media Support Mistakes (And Avoiding Them)

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Social media support is a critical component of customer service for businesses.

However, many companies easily fall into common traps that harm their reputation and customer relationships.

This blog post will explore the most frequent social media support mistakes and provide actionable strategies to avoid them, ensuring your efforts enhance (rather than hinder) your brand’s image.

Top 3 Common Mistakes in Social Media Support

Making social media support mistakes are an all-too easy misstep for brands with a bustling social media presence.

Picture this: a small, vibrant cafe known for its exceptional coffee and warm ambiance. As they expand their presence online, the cafe starts receiving customer messages on their social media platforms. Eager to connect, they hastily set up automated responses, believing it to be the quickest way to manage customer interactions.

Initially, it seems like a smooth transition. However, the automated responses, lacking personal touch and understanding, start to leave customers feeling unheard and frustrated.

The cafe’s initial misstep is not unique in the world of social media support. We see this ALL the time.

Many businesses, both large and small, often fall into the trap of over-relying on automation or failing to respond in a timely and empathetic manner.

It’s a common narrative: a brand, enthusiastic about digital engagement, overlooks the nuances of human interaction and the importance of personalization in their rush to appear responsive.

This oversight is like being a well-intentioned host so busy preparing the house for a party that they forget to greet and interact with their guests. (I’ve so been there!)

The key to avoiding these pitfalls lies not in the tools and technologies employed, but in the understanding that behind every comment, like, and direct message is a person seeking a genuine connection and acknowledgment.

Let’s dissect the top three social media support mistakes brands make.

Mistake 1: Inconsistent Response Times

Maintaining consistent response times can be a daunting task. The best social media managers are jugglers; keeping multiple balls in the air simultaneously. Therefore, the reasons for erratic response times are manifold:

  • Fluctuating volumes of inquiries
  • Limited resources, especially in smaller teams
  • Covering various time zones (for global audiences)
  • Employees working “normal” hours (M-F, 9 to 5) but leaving social channels to languish over the weekends and holidays

In some cases, brands may prioritize certain channels over others, or certain types of inquiries, leading to varied response times.

This inconsistency, however, can be the Achilles’ heel in your social media support efforts. Consistent response times are crucial as they set a reliable expectation for your customer.

Planning consistent responses build trust and reliability in a brand, assuring customers that their concerns and queries will be addressed in a timely manner.

The Issue: Inconsistent response times can lead to customer frustration and a perception of unreliability.

The Solution: Implement a structured response schedule and use automated tools to acknowledge queries outside business hours.

Example of solution: Southern California Edison (SCE) is a large electric utility company in the U.S., providing power to 15 million people. Using Sprout Social’s Bot Builder, SCE is able to expand its service hours and deliver top-notch customer experience through social media channels. Even during off-hours.

SCE-sprout-social-chatbot-social-media-support

[Source]

Mistake 2: Ignoring Negative Feedback

Ignoring negative feedback on social media is a common misstep for brands, often stemming from a desire to maintain a positive online image.

This approach, however, is only a temporary avoidance that doesn’t address the underlying issue.

Brands might feel overwhelmed by the volume of feedback or unsure how to handle criticism constructively, leading them to sidestep or delete negative comments. Yet, this tactic can backfire, as it not only alienates the customers who have taken the time to voice their concerns but also sends a message of indifference to the wider audience.

Addressing negative feedback is crucial because it demonstrates a brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Just as a skilled chef values constructive criticism to refine their recipes, a brand should view negative feedback as an invaluable ingredient for growth and customer loyalty.

The Issue: Ignoring or deleting negative comments can escalate customer dissatisfaction and damage trust.

The Solution: Address negative feedback proactively and transparently, turning challenges into opportunities for improvement.

Example of solution: The coffee giant, Starbucks, is no stranger to negative feedback. However, they handle it like pros. “I’d be frustrated too” is such a great way to offer empathy to your customer right away. [Check out our 25 scripts for aligning with empathy]

starbucks fixing social media support mistakes

[Source]

Mistake 3: Over-Automation

Over-automation is a pitfall that brands often encounter, especially when they strive to streamline operations and manage high volumes of customer interactions.

It would be like a restaurant owner replacing their warm, attentive waitstaff with vending machines – efficient perhaps, but lacking the personal touch that customers seek. In the pursuit of efficiency, brands may set up automated responses for a wide range of customer inquiries, believing it to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

However, this can lead to impersonal and sometimes irrelevant replies, leaving customers feeling disconnected and undervalued. The essence of social media is its ability to foster a genuine, human connection, and over-automation can significantly diminish this experience.

It’s crucial for brands to find the right balance, using automation to handle routine queries while ensuring that more complex or sensitive issues are addressed with a human touch.

After all, in a world increasingly driven by technology, the human element remains the most cherished aspect of customer interactions.

The Issue: Relying too heavily on automated responses can make interactions feel impersonal and unhelpful.

The Solution: Balance automation with human interactions. Ensure customer service representatives are available to handle complex queries.

Example of solution NOT to use: My friend and AI expert, Chris Penn of Trust Insights, recently sent me an image with AI comments written by bots on LinkedIn.

social media support mistake over automation

Now, some of you may think this is the solution. However, our advice of “think conversation, not campaign” doesn’t apply here. Auto replies and over-automation should not be used!

*Humble opinion of this writer: Use bots at your own risk!

Implementing Best Practices

Implementing best practices in social media support can help your brand avoid common pitfalls and stay on the path to success.

By adhering to the below best practices, you can ensure a robust and effective social media presence.

Best Practice 1: Regular Audits

Considering the intricacies and potential pitfalls of social media management, conducting regular social media audits is comparable to a ship’s captain routinely checking navigational charts and instruments.

For brands, these audits are essential in ensuring that the social media strategy remains on course and effectively aligns with overarching goals and audience expectations.

A social media audit allows brands to critically assess and fine-tune their approach, identifying areas where they excel and those requiring improvement. This could involve analyzing …

  • Engagement metrics
  • Response times
  • Content effectiveness
  • Overall sentiment and feedback

Regular audits help in spotting trends and patterns that may not be immediately apparent, such as subtle shifts in audience behavior or engagement levels. They also provide an opportunity to evaluate the brand’s consistency in voice, messaging, and customer interaction, ensuring that all elements work synergistically to build a positive brand image and a loyal customer base.

In social media marketing, where algorithms change and audience preferences shift, staying adaptable and informed is key.

Importance: Frequency.

Regular audits are not just a check-up; they’re a strategic tool for continuous improvement and adaptation, ensuring that the brand remains relevant, engaging, and aligned with its audience’s needs and expectations.

Resource: Sprout Social Audit Template.

Sample Audit Blur Sprout Social

[Source: Sprout Social]

Sprout’s template does the heavy lifting: just plug in your numbers to their spreadsheet!

Best Practice 2: Feedback Loop

Establishing social media feedback loops is crucial for brands, acting as a vital mechanism for continuous improvement and adaptation in their digital strategy. Think of it as a conversation with your audience that never ends, where each response and interaction provides valuable insights.

This process involves actively seeking, listening to, and analyzing feedback from various social media interactions, whether it’s comments, likes, shares, or direct messages. By doing so, brands gain a clearer understanding of their audience’s preferences, pain points, and expectations.

This iterative process ensures that the brand’s content, customer service, and overall social media strategy remain dynamic and responsive. It allows brands to make informed decisions, whether it’s adjusting the content calendar, refining tone of voice, or addressing specific customer service issues.

In essence, social media feedback loops provide a real-time barometer of public opinion and sentiment. They empower brands to be proactive rather than reactive, ensuring that their social media efforts are aligned with their audience’s evolving needs.

Create ongoing dialogue that promotes a sense of community and trust.

Importance: Data that’s actionable.

Feedback loops are not just about gathering information; they’re about acting on it.

Resource: Hubspot’s social feedback loop for products.

feedback loop example hubspot

[Source: Hubspot]

Hubspot teams listen to customer feedback via in-app surveys, as well as through social media. Polls they use on channels channels are to understand customer intent toward new products, like in the example above.

Best Practice 3: Crisis Management Plan

Having a social media crisis plan in place is essential for brands, serving as a critical safeguard in the often-volatile digital landscape. You need a well-rehearsed emergency drill. That way, when a crisis strikes, the plan ensures a swift, coordinated, and effective response, minimizing potential damage.

A social media crisis can range from a minor customer complaint that quickly escalates to a major PR blunder. Without a pre-defined plan, brands may find themselves unprepared, reacting impulsively or inconsistently, which can exacerbate the situation.

This plan should include clear guidelines on how to identify a crisis, who in the organization is responsible for managing the response, and the steps to be taken to address the issue. It should also outline the communication strategy both internally and externally, ensuring that messaging is consistent, accurate, and aligns with your brand’s values.

Furthermore, it means regular monitoring of social media channels for potential issues and training staff to recognize and respond to crises effectively.

In summary, a social media crisis plan is an indispensable tool for any brand. It ensures that when faced with a crisis, the response is not a knee-jerk reaction but a strategic action that protects your brand’s reputation and maintains the trust and loyalty of its audience.

Importance: Don’t wait for trouble to find you (it will). 

A good crisis plan isn’t just reactive; it’s also proactive. Be prepared!

Resource: ClickUp’s Social Media Crisis Plan.

Clickup social media crisis plan template customization

[Source: ClickUp]

Create your own crisis plan or use ClickUp’s template. Either way, be ready to navigate any PR storm that comes your way.

Avoiding Common Social Media Support Mistakes

Avoiding these common social media support mistakes is crucial for fostering positive customer relationships.

By implementing the outlined strategies and best practices, you can ensure your social media support is an asset, not a liability.

Remember, effective social media support isn’t just about solving problems—it’s about building trust, loyalty, and a strong community around your brand.

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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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