In your enterprise digital marketing arsenal, few weapons are as formidable as social media

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok give big businesses an easy way to reach billions of people, to tailor their messaging to specific demographics, to connect with customers on an intimate person-to-person level, and to harness the power of internet virality to reach new heights of brand awareness.

Even still, this marketing super-weapon is a double-edged sword.

There are, in fact, numerous challenges of using social media in business. Many of these don’t just pose obstacles, but are potentially devastating threats capable of causing serious damage to your brand reputation.

Big brands that have underestimated the hazards of social media, including McDonald’s and Electronics Arts, have suffered major blows as a result: bad PR, millions in lost revenues, and even government investigations.

That doesn’t mean that even the most perilous social media challenges can’t still be overcome. It just means that it takes a lot of thought, preparation, and effort. With the right social media marketing strategy, there’s no reason your enterprise business can’t wield the sword of social media like a knight in shining armor.

Challenges of Using Social Media for Business

Option Paralysis

Have you ever been to a restaurant with a really, really big menu? Has it ever been so big that you felt overwhelmed and, when the server came to take your order, you couldn’t decide what to get?

That’s called “option paralysis” and, when it comes to enterprise social media, it’s a big problem facing businesses today. No matter how large your company may be, you only have a finite amount of resources. Determining the best ways to use those resources has always been a challenge, and this age of social media omnipresence has only exacerbated that.

Let’s take a moment to list some of the biggest social media platforms right now. Just off the top of my head, we’ve got… 

Close-up of a smartphone showing multiple social media apps
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Reddit
  • Telegram
  • Snapchat
  • Twitch
  • LinkedIn
  • Quora
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Triller
  • Vimeo
  • Medium
  • Periscope

And these are just the most popular platforms! All told, there are hundreds, if not thousands of good social media sites for business currently on the market, with more popping up every single day.

How do you know which ones are worth your attention? What percentage of the people who use Triller, for instance, are the type of people who might be interested in your products? Is TikTok the future of social media marketing, or is it just a fad that will be gone in a few more years? Even if it’s the latter, it still represents an important lead generation tool now, doesn’t it?

Ultimately, the answer to the question “What social media should I use for my business?” is all of it. Or, at the very least, as much of it as you can.

Although ideally, you should strive to be active on every social media site you’re a part of, it’s a good idea to have at least some kind of presence on as many platforms as possible, even if all that presence does is repost content from other platforms.

This is good not only for directing users on those platforms to content elsewhere, but also for preventing your brand identity from being hijacked by Impersonators and so-called “parody” accounts.

Deciding which platforms to focus your resources on requires some soul-searching. It’s important to research the demographics that are attracted to each platform and see how well they overlap with the demographics of your user base.

You should also consider what you want to get out of social media. To wit, if you’re looking to increase brand awareness, apps based centrally around content sharing, such as TikTok and Twitter, might be your best bet.

If you’re more interested in conversions, on the other hand, you might favor targeted Facebook ads. Looking to establish your brand as an informational resource? Start making YouTube videos and writing detailed guides on Medium. Different audiences consume different kinds of content; figure out what flavor your target customers prefer, then cater to that.

Audience Engagement

Speaking of contempt, now that you’ve set up accounts on all the social media sites you plan to use, you’re still not done. Not even close. The only number bigger than the current slate of social media platforms available is the population of users on those platforms.

To be specific, Statista estimates that there are roughly 2.91 billion active users on Facebook alone. Instagram has 1.2 billion, TikTok has 1 billion, and Twitter has 290.5 million.

That’s a lot of competition!

So, how do you get customers’ attention? How do you inform, entertain, or otherwise engage your audience in a way that encourages content sharing and conversion events?

As always, the key here is content. Many of the same principles for writing good website content can also be applied to writing social media posts, but don’t limit yourself to text. Leverage the unique strengths of each platform for all they’re worth. Utilize pictures, videos, live streams, and more.

Of course, good audience engagement doesn’t just mean creating content. It also means communicating with online customers the same way you would in-person customers. That means being responsive, courteous, and, most importantly, human.

Respond to comments. Share customer posts. Interact. Too many big brands misuse social media, seeing it only as a megaphone to talk into. The truth is that social media is more like a telephone; you’re supposed to use it to talk with customers, not at them.

To put it another way, it’s a dialogue, not a monologue.

In 2017, video game company Electronic Arts, or EA, found itself dealing with millions of angry customers when their then-recent product “Star Wars: Battlefront 2” launched using a controversial “loot box” mechanic that charged players additional fees for access to certain popular features.

Hoping to placate customers, EA left a comment on the Star Wars subreddit that definitely got people’s attention:

A screenshot of Electronic Arts’ infamous Reddit comment about Star Wars: Battlefront

See that number in the lower-left corner? The one with the minus sign next to it? That’s the number of negative votes the comment received from users unsatisfied with EA’s response.

Five years later, EA’s post remains one of the most downvoted comments in the history of Reddit, even earning a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for such a dubious honor. So, why did users greet what seems at first glance like a relatively well-prepared press release with such vitriol?

Because it reads like a well-prepared press release. In other words, it feels sterilized, canned, and robotic. The biggest problem EA’s customers had with the company was that they felt like they weren’t being listened to, and the company’s reply did little to alleviate such concerns. 

What’s more, many users pointed out that EA’s response offered no meaningful solutions, just vague promises and half-hearted explanations. By then, the situation was past the point of “we’ll do better next time” apologies. Customers wanted the problem fixed.

One of the good things about social media is the way it allows customers to communicate directly with big brands. One of the bad things about social media is… the way it allows customers to communicate directly with big brands. Now more than ever, users want to see results.

When customers bring their concerns to you on social media, out in the open where anyone and everyone can see how you respond, respond quickly and decisively is crucial. If you can’t provide a solution to your customers’ problems, then chances are there is another company out there who can, and they’ll be able all too happy to take those customers from you.

Narrative Management

Earlier, I pointed out that social media isn’t a one-way street. You can’t just put your message out there and call it a day. It takes on a life of its own on the internet, which occasionally makes the whole thing feel like an unpredictable free-for-all.

To retain some semblance of sanity, try to think of it as improv theatre. You’re performing for an audience, but the audience is also participating in that performance.

Sometimes the audience is accommodating and can actually boost your message so that it reaches an even broader audience. Other times, the audience is uncooperative. They may even attempt to reframe your message in a negative context you never intended.

Case in point, a few years ago, McDonald’s tried going viral on Twitter by creating the hashtag #McDStories. Here’s the original post:

A post from the official McDonald’s Twitter account promoting the hashtag #McDStories

The goal here was to help humanize the brand by encouraging McDonald’s-affiliated produce suppliers to post about themselves. Unfortunately, the hashtag did indeed go viral, but not in the way the fast-food giant had hoped.

Twitter quickly users latched onto the hashtag as a way of airing their grievances with the brand. Soon, social media feeds filled up with hundreds of posts like the following (yes, these are actual customer tweets): 

Ate McDonalds for lunch today and felt sick. Hashbrowns tasted metallic and the nuggets had the consistency of goo. #mcdstories

If buns get dropped on the floor they still get put in the toaster 90% of the time. #McDStories #Beware

Found a dirty band aid in the bottom of the take out bag. #McDStories

Which has more chemicals: Marlboro cigarette or egg mcmuffin? Flip a coin. #mcdstories

The problem here is twofold. Not only did McDonald’s fail to anticipate the possibility of malicious turning their marketing efforts against them, but, worse, the company was unable to keep the narrative from being reshaped into something ugly and harmful.

Of course, it’s easy to look back in hindsight and say “that was a bad idea.” When you’re in the driver’s seat, though, it’s not always easy to keep the car on the road, especially when you hit a rough patch. One of the best social media tips for business at the enterprise level is to try and prevent accidents before they happen. But how do you do that?

Two words: defensive driving.

  • Step 1. Build a strong reputation and a good relationship with your audience. Look for ways of increasing your brand loyalty and public perception every single day, so that when the time comes, the audience is already predisposed towards positivity rather than negativity.
  • Step 2. Be clear with your messaging and avoid ambiguity. Try to anticipate alternative or negative interpretations and, if necessary, retool how your message is framed in order to preclude those.
  • Step 3. Be aware of the audience. That doesn’t just mean your customer base or target demographic, but also the majority of users on a social media platform. Take the temperature of the zeitgeist and rethink if now is the right time for the post or campaign you have in mind.
  • Step 4. Don’t try to remove or hide negative user comments. When possible, try to engage constructively with those users. Offer solutions instead of excuses. Look for opportunities to reaffirm your initial message instead of retreating from it.
  • Step 5. Back up your words with actions. Dispel negative perceptions by contradicting them in a meaningful, demonstrable way. This could mean making charitable donations, disproving harmful lies and rumors, or simply showing humility via a sincere apology.
  • Step 6. Focus on your strengths instead of defending your weaknesses. In general, you should avoid taking a defensive tone. Remember that the customer is always “right,” even if the customer is technically wrong. Treat their concerns as valid, even when they seem frivolous. 

Need Social Media Marketing Done for You? We Can Help!

Using social media for business is essential these days. You can’t really ignore it because it’s everywhere. More importantly, it’s where the people are; the key to success in business has always been to go where the people are.

That said, “the people” are often difficult to predict. When you’re competing for the public’s attention with countless other competitors and distractions, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “all publicity is good publicity.”

That’s a fallacy. Bad publicly is bad publicity, period.

Harnessing the full potential of the internet often requires help from digital marketing professionals. That’s why LSEO is proud to offer our expert enterprise-level social media marketing services to any companies that need them.

We can help you navigate the minefield that is today’s social media landscape. Contact us today so we can begin working together on a winning social media marketing strategy.