Exactly how risky is it to use social media to brand and to boost your business profits? This all depends on how much you know, how much you’re prepared to do, and how quickly you can step in front of a crisis before it ends up spinning out of control.
Yes, there are many different risks associated with social media marketing. However, it’s important to realize that there are risks inherent in all types of marketing and in life in general. You can’t spend your time hiding from them.
Learn about the risks associated with social media for preparation purposes, but don’t let them scare you away from using social media as a tool to grow your business.
The Risks You Face when Operating a Social Campaign
1: The Risk of a Viral Disaster
One negative comment turns into a shared comment with a friend, who then spreads it around their network, and things start to spiral out of control in front of your eyes. You can get out in front of small disasters, but there’s a risk in social media of a full-blown viral crisis. It’s rare if you’re serious about quality control, but the risk is present nonetheless.
To prevent these potential viral disasters, you could implement some savvy steps into your branding.
- Always apologize for any inconvenience, even if you’re not in the wrong
- Reply to every legitimate criticism, even if it’s really negative
- Try and quash bad situations with discounts and freebies if you can
- Never ignore anyone
- Be open and honest in your communications
- Create guidelines for the process and have an avenue for people to contact you
2: The Risk of Poor Performance
You could hire a social media marketing consultant, read a ton of literature, have all the right programs, and still end up performing poorly in some areas. There is no guarantee of success in social marketing, and the inherent risk of failing in any area is always something that looms over everyone’s head. This risk should motivate you to try harder to succeed, of course, but the risk never goes away.
You’re constantly at risk of poor performance, and thus you may need some motivating factors. Try these tips to avoid putting your worst foot forward.
- Run every post through a quality-control leg before launching
- Split-test every ad to see which performs the best and where it performs the best
- Never accept outsourced material unless you thoroughly go over it
- Realize that a poor social media performance could cripple your brand image
- Heavily scrutinize those you hire and those you have working on social campaigns
- Try to outdo your previous performances with each new performance
3: The Risk of Wasted Money
Even though social media presents a low-cost form of advertising, you’re still going to spend a pretty penny to ensure that you’re targeting a lot of people on a site like Facebook. There’s always a risk of not properly assessing your market and spending money on ads that don’t attract people. Understanding this risk should make you more willing to research and target correctly before creating and launching material.
There are many different ways to waste your money in a social media campaign, from buying unnecessary add-ons to hiring people to put together simple posts that you should be able to handle.
- Start off with cheaper approaches and build up
- Research the rates for ads and the suspected reach they could bring
- Never spend money on unneeded courses and coaches and the like
- Invest in a solid ad-management app to get your money’s worth
- Avoid outsourcing or hiring new people unless you cannot do the work yourself
4: The Risk of Being Hacked
Yes, hackers are prowling around social media sites in large numbers, just waiting to pounce on exposed information. They’re sending out malware in an abundance of links, and some unlucky few find out the hard way that they shouldn’t have clicked. The risks of being hacked are real in social media, and you need to be aware of them.
If you want to limit your risks of being hacked, here are a few measures you can take to keep you safe.
- Use a different Facebook email than your actual business email
- Never give out your main email address to people
- Make sure your main website has a great security suite
- Avoid giving out personal information of any kind
- Change your password every few months just in case
- Create complicated passwords: I4_aJZ$_mNo, rather than Qwerty or asdfjkl;
- Never click on links that you don’t recognize
5: The Risk of a Dead Market
If you think you’re the only brand operating within a certain niche, you need to quickly come back to reality for a visit. There is ample competition in nearly every conceivable niche, and the things you’re trying, no matter how original, aren’t exactly going to break new ground. So there is a risk that you’ll run into dead tactics, where the audience is immune, or even a dead market, where the audience is tapped out.
How do you avoid running into these dead markets? For starters, you can try:
- Thoroughly researching the market before you decide to target it
- Sending out feeler posts and ads to measure your response
- Testing multiple demographics to see which is the most vibrant
- Changing your approach and consistently testing new demos within the market
- Researching what your competitors are putting out there
- Trying new tactics for engagement that haven’t been done to death
- Avoiding flooded markets and looking for smaller niches and subsets
6: The Risk of an Unprofessional Image
Brands successful at social media management understand that letting a personality develop is important for the context of a social atmosphere. However, there’s always a risk here inherent in this humanization of a business. You run the risk of coming across as unprofessional – an amateurish business that doesn’t command the proper amount of respect.
You don’t have to present a suit-and-tie Wall-Street-like image, but you also can’t risk presenting a devil-may-care, unprofessional image. Here are some things to avoid to ensure your image stays respectable.
- Don’t get into those vitriolic, profanity-riddled social troll debates
- Keep your personal life personal
- Don’t post material that’s offensive to anyone
- Be careful with what you think is “humor”; it might not be funny to some
- Keep your grammar clean and to the point
- Don’t mix your brand’s image with a personal social account
7: The Risk of Upsetting the Balance
A lot of brands fear that the balance of harmony in social media is delicate and that everyone’s just happy, holding hands and singing songs. Then along come an offensive post or a harmful word and the whole world crumbles into chaos! Well, this is a sensationalized version, obviously, but there is a risk of offending people when you advertise so often. This is just one of those risks you have to accept.
As touched on above, you want to avoid posting anything that could be deemed offensive, but what does that entail? Here are some specific topics you should try to avoid, unless they’re explicitly a part of your niche.
- Avoid topics about any religion or religious people
- Try to stay out of politics, as in choosing a side
- Stay away from topics of anything gender-based
- Avoid speaking about sexuality, or even sex in general
- Don’t alienate audiences with issues of class
- Keep your material specific to your niche and noncontroversial
As you begin to learn more about social media advertising, you’re inevitably going to find that there are many more risks out there that you have to focus on. The risks listed above are just the most common risks that you’ll have to focus on. Under the umbrella of these risk types, you’ll find a slew of other potentially harmful risks. The key is to learn what you can to prevent them. Be proactive as well as reactive.
Craig Robinson, an online writer for Qwaya, a facebook ad campaign tool. He loves to write different topics about social media tips and strategies. Besides writing, he also enjoys engaging with different communities and social forums. Do follow him in twitter, Craig_Qwaya