I’ve heard people say that print is dying. Regardless of the validity of that statement, one thing that is definitely not dying is good writing. In fact, the world has maybe never had a greater need of people who can adequately and competently communicate ideas and thoughts through words. Unfortunately, brands don’t always get this. Here’s a list of five common errors brands can’t seem to stop making online (specifically in the things they post).
1. Spelling and Grammar.
English is hard. There are a lot of grammar and spelling rules, and sometimes the things we do don’t seem to make sense. It’s fun to poke fun at our friends when they use the wrong “your,” or when they put that comma in the wrong place, but when someone is pointing the finger of ridicule at your brand? Yeah, that’s not so fun.
A very recent example of this blunder was committed by video game developer Square Enix Inc. They recently released their video game “Dragon Quest IV,” for iPads and iPhones. Only one problem: They spelled their OWN GAME wrong. Meet Dargon Quest.
In today’s fast paced and social world, simple mistakes like this spread like wildfire. #DargonQuestMyGame quickly became a trending hash tag on the Twitter sphere, where everyone poked fun at Square Enix’s misfortune.
Solution: Spell check gets it wrong a lot more than you’d think, so when you’re writing some content for the Internet don’t rely on spell check to fix all your mistakes. Before you post it, read it out loud. Then have someone else read it out loud. Just getting multiple eyes on it will help immensely.
2. Lack of Follow-Up
The Internet has opened up many doors for brands and companies to engage with their customer base. Brands everywhere are trying to take advantage of this by starting conversations with their loyal fans and followers. Here’s the catch though, you’ve got to finish every conversation that you start. You might be asking all of the right questions and posting the best content, but if you aren’t following up with your fans, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Take a look at Taco Bell.
Taco Bell goes beyond sharing content, they start, engage in and finish conversations. When someone says “I love you Taco Bell,” they respond in kind. There’s a lesson there that every brand would do good to remember.
Solution: Take some time every day to respond to some of your fan base. You don’t need to systematically address every comment or question out there, but taking the time to interact with a few followers will go a long way in building brand loyalty.
3. Asking Bad Questions
There’s a common expression, “there’s no such thing as a bad question.” Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is definitely a lie. While asking questions to your followers is a good thing, bad questions can actually hurt a brand’s online presence. Here’s an example of a not-so-great question.
Questions like the one above are great if you’re talking to a fellow co-worker. Not so much if you’re asking a large group of people online. That’s not even the worst of it though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen brands ask something like “Finally it’s Friday! What’re your plans for the weekend?” First of all, questions like this are generally difficult to follow up on; they aren’t going to generate a good conversation. Second, questions like this rarely have anything to do with your brand. And finally, most people don’t care to share their coffee preferences or weekend plans with a bunch of strangers.
Solution: Before you ask a question online, ask yourself this: Do I really care what the answer to this question is? Would I feel comfortable asking this to a large group of people I don’t know? Will other people feel comfortable answering this question publicly? Based on your answers to those questions, you may want to reconsider whatever you might be saying.
4. Word Repetition
I don’t care how incredible something is, repeating it ten times isn’t convincing anyone. I think the expression is that actions speak louder than words? Keep that in mind when you’re posting anything online. Otherwise you might look a little something like this:
Just remember: Saying the same thing over and over is an easy way to disengage your audience over and over.
Solution: Similar to when you have a typing or grammar error, the easiest way to avoid this blunder is to read your content out loud (numerous times if you have to). There’s rarely a good reason to repeat yourself (unless it’s ironic). Even if you want to say the same thing in two separate sentences at least use a thesaurus.
5. Lack of Anything
Probably the worst things you can do for your brand image is establish an online presence only to completely neglect it. Some might call it social suicide; Social media suicide that is (I’m so sorry about the terrible pun, but it had to be said).
It’s not just that fans will be disappointed that you aren’t doing anything online either. The problem is that if you aren’t populating your pages with content, then disgruntled fans will, and I’m willing to bet you might not like what they have to say. Take Zynga’s Facebook page for example. It’s filled almost entirely with unaddressed customer complaints.
Solution: Here are your options: Remove yourself from the Internet entirely (probably a bad idea), or just, you know, take the time to manage your online presence. Hire someone to help if you need to.
Now, these aren’t the only mistakes when it comes to how brands present themselves online, but these certainly cover some of the big ones I see every day. Hopefully your brand has never committed one of these blunders in the past, but even if you have, now is the perfect time to stop.