9 Things African Businesses Shouldn't Do On Social Media - FORBES

Use social media the right way, and you can attract new customers and boost your business. Use it the wrong way, and you can spark a backlash that’ll melt your reputation to a sticky puddle.
Here’s an example of the wrong way. Last September, a loyal fan of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream posted a comment at the Montana company’s Facebook page: “Hey saw ur cookies and cream has gelatin in it. Does it contain pork? I am a muslim and love your ice cream.”

Wilcoxson’s CEO Matt Schaeffer replied: “We don’t deliver outside of Montana, certainly not Pakistan.”

The exchange went viral and caused an online uproar, outraging a lot of people besides that one fan (who, as it turned out, lived in Wyoming). Negative Wilcoxson’s reviews poured into Yelp and Reddit, a boycott was organized and CEO Schaeffer was forced to take down the Wilcoxson’s Facebook page, which was clogged with angry comments.

Schaeffer, interviewed by reporters from NBC News to the Billings Gazette, explained that he was new to social media, noticed that the fan had a map of Pakistan on his Facebook profile and assumed he was writing from that country.

It was an honest mistake, but the damage was done. That’s how social media works. “In the past the local dry cleaner could mumble whatever he wanted behind the register,” says Shama Kabani, author of “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” and CEO of Web marketing firm Marketing Zen Group. “But online the repercussions can be so much greater. Anything can go viral.”

For small businesses, social media marketing is essential; but it’s a double-edged tool. Done poorly, social media marketing can hurt your business. Here, courtesy of Kabani, are some basic social media don’ts.

Don’t mix up personal and business accounts. KitchenAid made this mistake during the first presidential debate, when President Obama brought up the Affordable Care Act and mentioned his grandmother and her health care problems as she neared death. A member of the KitchenAid Twitter team leapt to the Web with a tweet that read, “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president.” But the KitchenAid employee had used the KitchenAid Twitter account. Oops. The company quickly found itself issuing abject apologies. The employee was fired within hours.

Don’t post on Facebook Timelines. “That’s akin to throwing flyers in someone’s yard,” Kabani says. “There’s an unspoken ‘no solicitations on personal profiles’ rule that small businesses don’t seem to understand.” In the best-case scenario, the person whose page you post to will be annoyed. In the worst-case scenario, the person will spread word of your trespass and you’ll look clumsy and rude.

Don’t share too much. Kabani says she was surprised at the number of small-business owners who declaimed their political opinions during the last election. “Immediately they alienated half their customers,” she points out. She saw several owners share the false Donald Trump meme that Obama was born in Kenya. “Small businesses didn’t think twice about it because they didn’t write it, they were only sharing it. But what you share is a reflection of you and your business, so you have to be very careful.”

Don’t blog other people’s stuff. Blogging is a good way to draw visitors to your website. But it takes time, so you may be tempted to, ahem, borrow material from other places. Bad idea. “Don’t copy and paste other articles in their entirety,” Kabani says. “It can get you in trouble legally and from a search perspective. Search engines know you’re copying content and will penalize you for it.”

Don’t send invites to everyone. Holding an event at your new location? Don’t invite people you know can’t make it. “If you have a launch party in Dallas and you invite people in New York, for the New Yorkers that’s just spam,” Kabani says.

Don’t highjack hashtags. Most people saw the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt as an earthshaking political moment. Kenneth Cole saw it as an opportunity to market his new collection. The fashion designer highjacked the #Cairo hashtag and sent out a tweet that read, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available online.” Cringe. The Internet jumped all over Cole’s blunder. “This was during the heart of Arab Spring,” Kabani says. “People were dying in the streets.”

Don’t Yelp back at critics. It’s hard to resist. Someone bashes your business at Yelp and you want to defend yourself. Don’t. “I spoke to a small-business owner recently who owns a salon,” Kabani says. “A customer wrote a negative review and he responded with a post slamming the customer and all the things the customer did wrong, like being late for the appointment. Rather than be political and say he was sorry, he thought he’d use Yelp to defend himself and paint the customer as a liar. His tactic totally backfired and resulted in an avalanche of negative reviews.”

Don’t write your own reviews. This is another common Yelp goof. Kabani recalls a restaurant owner who took it upon himself to write reviews of his establishment based loosely on compliments his customers had paid him. But he wrote all the reviews from the same IP address, and Yelp, naturally, deleted them. “He spent days and days writing hundreds of reviews and thought he was doing it in good faith,” Kabani says. “Yelp just pulled them all down.”

Don’t ask for follows on Twitter. Don’t beg people to follow you on Twitter. “It puts them in an awkward position,” Kabani says. “It’s like going to a business event and forcing your business card into people’s hands — or insisting on their card so you can give them one in return.” It’s annoying. And it’s a waste of time anyway, because Twitter is no longer about your number of followers. People go to Twitter to find information when they need it, and use is now more relevancy-based and hashtag-based.

Overall, remember this about social media marketing: It’s not an announcement, it’s a conversation. People consider their accounts and profiles to be their personal space, so respect that. You wouldn’t meet potential customers at a party and get up in their face, so don’t get up in their Facebook. They won’t Like it.

News Source: FORBES
Technology 7612617880646491981

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