3 common mistakes in using social media and how to prevent them

 No. 1: Embracing social media without a strategy and vision

Using social media in corporate communications without a clear vision, purpose and strategy in place is a recipe for disaster.  It means going nowhere.  A clear symptom is the appearance of thousands of groups with only 2-3 members in each.


  • Think of social media as a business journey, a transformation in the way your organisation communicates.
  • Link your social media initiatives to clear business objectives.
  • Start with awareness, acceptance and participation from the leaders.
  • Have devoted community managers who understand how to manage relationships on the network.
  • Gain strong support from advocates, your early adopters and champions who understand social media.
  • Have simple guidelines in place, and also make sure you train and educate your employees.
  • Allow people to experiment with the tools, and take their time to familiarise with them.

No. 2: Underestimating Brand Vandals

Brand Vandals are defined by Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl as social media users who publicly and vociferously criticise your organisation. They are not just members of an external community, but they can be your own employees too. When employees turn to social media for complaining and sharing their grievances a company and its corporate communicators have some major issues to deal with.


  • Engage with your employees more and encourage an honest working environment.  Take steps to rebuild trust and to openly communicate with employees.
  • Inspire healthy debates inside the organisation through enterprise social networks (ESN).  ESNs encourage sharing knowledge and information: they create two-way dialogues, reduce power distance, connect colleagues globally; they give employees a voice, allow them to make meaningful contribution and innovations, increase engagement and satisfaction (Altimeter, 2012).

No. 3: Focusing on technology rather than on behaviours
Many social media initiatives fail because of too much focus on technology and too little on behaviours.


  • Look at engaging with your stakeholders through a new type of relationship, one based on shared values and listening. In social and digital media today people are seeking authentic conversations. They don’t want a canned response.
  • Help your organisation turn into a social enterprise by utilising social technologies – and not just technologies – but social attitudes and the preferences of everyone involved in the enterprise to help run the business.

Further reading:

Brand Vandals: Reputation Wreckers and How to Build Better Defences: Corporate Reputation Risk and Response
Authors: Waddington, Stephen and Earl, Steve, 2013

Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networking. Focus on Relationship to Drive Value
Author: Charlene Li, Altimeter, 2012.

Gloria LombardiArticle written by Gloria Lombardi
Community & Editorial Manager, simply-communicate.com
Follow Gloria on Twitter: @LOMBARDI_GLORIA

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