We've all seen it. The bakery that photographed their cookies using flash in the dark. The new restaurant that hashtagged its veal tartare #FoodPorn. The law office that posts Willy Wonka memes.
It's 2016 and businesses are aware that their customers want to see them on social media. After all, Instagram shoppers log onto the app 6 out of 7 days of the week and over half of Instagram users follow a business on the platform. Leveraging the power of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is key to getting your business seen but doing social media right is extremely important. That said, social media mistakes can hurt your business more than it'll help. Here's my first installment on a series of social media blogs that'll help you dodge the pitfalls that even the big guys fall into:
1. Posting Off-Brand Material
Your business' social media needs to be a direct reflection of the brand you represent at your storefront. If you're a high-end restaurant and night club, your clientele is expecting a classy and refined image when browsing through your social media. Avoid memes, low res photos, drunk patron photos, and unflattering photos of the C-list celebrities that made a brief appearance. Instead, opt for interior shots that show off your location's design for prospective event-booking clientele. Take intimate shots of your food, drinks, or the last shipment of Japanese denim that came into the store. These behind-the-scenes snapshots help connect your business to your audience and humanizes your company in a way that makes your customers more inclined to trust you and your brand.
2. Living A Food Photography Nightmare
Everyone thinks they're an expert when it comes to food photography, which is totally fine. But too often we see otherwise delicious food looking like it was plated by a raccoon and then photographed in the style of the Blair Witch Project. It doesn't have to be this way. We contacted our close friend and professional food photographer Christina Holmes, who is way better at taking pictures of food than you, to tell us more about keeping an absolutely impressive photo stream. "If I were to give just one piece of advice, it would be to keep things simple. Use natural sunlight when possible, and make sure everything in the frame is as clean as possible. Also be sure to keep a uniform style throughout your portfolio of food pictures: you can either go for clean and perfect or nice n' messy, but don't do both. Finally, if the food you receive to photograph has a few stray bits of sauce around the plate, clean it up! The chef will appreciate their work being presented as nicely as possible."
3. Using the Wrong Hashtags
Hashtags are extremely important when it comes to Instagram and Twitter. They help others find your content and can add some fun into a post. For this reason, never use a hashtag that uses the name of your business, like #Billsfurniture. Instead, use hashtags like #Furniture, #Design, #Minimalist, #Couch as Instagram users will use those hashtags to find your image. #Some #other #common #mistakes #include #hashtagging #every #word #in #a #sentence, using hashtags like #FoodPorn for your Michelin star paella, and hashtagging completely unrelated things in hopes of getting more likes and followers.
4. Using Awful Memes. Actually, Using Any Memes At All.
Just because millennials are using memes to communicate with each other doesn't mean it'll help you communicate with them. Not only is there a 95% chance you'll be getting the meme wrong, but there is a 100% chance you'll be embarrassing your company. Millennials don't need to think your business is "with it" in order to like your brand. No Bagel Bites, you are not doing this right, despite the fact that you correctly used the meme!
5. Repeatedly Posting Your Same Promotion
So you have a special offer you're very excited about and want to use social media to get the word out. That's fine, but be aware that your Instagram feed is NOT a billboard. Do not repeatedly repost the same promotion: users will see it as spam and will even go as far as to think your account is fake, ignoring your message altogether. Sorry Red Lobster, we don't think your social media is #lobsterworthy (screen-capped from their feed 9/19):
6. Misrepresenting Your Products
We all want to post ourselves at our best on Social Media. Sure, we may want to ensure that the product we're depicting is going to look extra good. However, what you put up should be representative of what you're offering! Customers will also let you know when they feel cheated or betrayed. Take the image below for example, which was posted onto Reddit by a disappointed customer:
7. Reposting Terrible Photos
Reposting your customer's pictures is a great way to engage with your customers, but make sure the photo follows the guidelines stated above. Reposting a photo isn't an acceptable excuse for poor photography, so make sure there is an object in focus, proper lighting, and generally obeys the Rule of Thirds. Also, do not use a reposting app to repost the image, as they leave a watermark giving your feed a very unprofessional look. However, do credit the account that took the photo and offer them something nice for lending their content - a drink on the house or free appetizer will always go over well and make them much more loyal to your business! That said, be mindful of who you're reposting: you don't want to link to an account with lewd photos or racist jokes as it's more common than you'd think.
8. Buying Fake Likes/Followers
This pretty much the worst thing you can do to your social media. It's extremely obvious when you buy followers, and it'll become painfully apparent when you have ten thousand followers and only 15 likes per post. What's worse is social networks limit your organic reach so your posts will be seen more by bots than by real people. There's real value in the clout brought on by a large following, but it is best earned by good social media practices and truly engaging with your audience.
Social media can be tricky for newcomers, but avoiding these nine social media mistakes is a good start to having a great social media profile. What really counts is the effort you put in and the authenticity you communicate through your content. Be sure to reflect your company, but don't be afraid to reflect yourself either: a personal flair enriches the content and can make it more fun to follow.
This post is the first in a series of social media tutorials, so be sure to follow us at @SagencyNYC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hope you found this to be helpful, and if you have any questions/comments feel free to leave them below!