5 Steps to Avoid a Social Media Fumble

Social Media is inherently about being “social”. Brands, influencers, marketers, customers, and fans use social media to talk and connect with one another everyday. Being successful on social media involves monitoring these conversations, both good and bad, and identifying opportunities for engagement, product improvements, customer service, and more. Many brands understand the importance of social media listening and have plans in place using various tools such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite. However, with all of these tools available and the importance of social listening understood by many, it’s surprising to see that some brands are still not paying attention to these conversations.



Red Lobster is a perfect example of a big brand that lost a major social opportunity during the Super Bowl because of their lack of listening. During the halftime show, Beyonce released her new single “Formation” that contains the lyrics about going to Red Lobster after having sex. Fans were waiting for Red Lobster to say something on social media and were disappointed by the lack of response until hours later.

To avoid a social media fumble like Red Lobster, here are 5 tips to ensure your brand is listening and thinking strategically when responding on social media.

Identify Where your Target Market Interacts on Social Media

Where does your audience engage in conversations: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr? Using a tool like Netbase can help you understand where the conversations about your brand are taking place and the sentiment around those conversations.  

Invest in a Community Management Tool

There are dozens of community management tools that connect to various social platforms. Find a tool that fits your team’s needs so you can easily monitor and engage with conversations about your brand online.

Create a Response Plan

Once you have a better understanding of where your target market interacts on social media and you have a tool to better analyze and respond to those conversations, it’s important to create an internal response plan. Who is designated to respond to customer service inquiries? Who is responsible for finding and engaging in conversations where the brand isn’t tagged? Who is responsible for real time engagement opportunities? Who will monitor the social conversations outside of work hours and on the weekends? Create a plan with detailed roles and responsibilities outlined to make responding easier and timely.

Set Up Listening Streams 

According to a 2015 Brandwatch study, only 46% of brands engage with a tagged mention. Since 42% of customers expect a response within 60 minutes on social media, it’s not enough to only respond to conversations that tag your brand’s handles. Listening streams help with monitoring and responding to conversations that mention your brand terms (regardless of whether your brand was tagged), posts that tag your brand, and posts that use branded/non-branded hashtag(s). In addition, listening streams can be used to analyze conversations about a your competitors and identify opportunities for social conquesting.

Strategically Respond to Conversations 

Fans and customers want to be responded to in a timely manner and want you to understand their interests. The tone of voice you respond with should be authentic, and human. Is your brand humorous, informative, sarcastic? Regardless, your voice should reflect that of your audience. That’s why Red Lobster fans were so disappointed because the response did not reflect their demographic or interests.

In order for brands to avoid a social media fumble, they need to have a sound understanding of their target audience and sentiment around their brand terms. They need to respond in a timely manner to conversations that directly tag and don’t tag the brand terms, and ensure that they have a response plan in place that is catered towards their audience demographics.

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