There are perhaps no famous last words more cringe-worthy than the doomed justification “Everyone’s doing it.”
In the decade since Facebook — followed by Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other popular social media platforms — ushered in an unprecedented culture of connectivity, it’s been nearly impossible for most people living in the Western Hemisphere to justify a lack of online presence.
And the same appears to be true for businesses and brands.
But even if everyone is using social media to express themselves and promote their businesses, using the channel effectively certainly isn’t everyone’s strong suit. When it comes to using social media as a business tool, evidence has shown that haphazard use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can easily be a business’s undoing.
Fashion firms banking on buzzy Instagram stories and carefully curated grids, along with endorsements from well-liked influencers, may be especially susceptible to digital fails.
Among all of the platforms that companies can use to build their online presence, Instagram is often cited as the most used and most rewarding. So, Footwear News is zeroing in on the challenges that businesses face when they employ Instagram to boost sales.
Here, we round up three major don’ts.
Don’t Overdo It
By far, Generation Z and millennials make up the bulk of social media users, and research shows that they are particularly adverse to forced advertising — especially if they don’t have the ability to opt out.
“[Gen Z] wants to be in control of marketing,” explained MaryLeigh Bliss, trends editor and strategic consultant at marketing firm Youth Pulse. “The marketing that alienates [Gen Z], and that they don’t respond to, is anything that they can’t opt out of — you have to make your ads engaging or skippable.”
While some brands may reap the benefits of employing social media influencers to post photos and messages endorsing their wares, an overabundance of such promotion can come across as gimmicky and send red flags to digital-savvy consumers.
Bliss and other experts suggest using Instagram’s “Stories” feature or Snapchat to help younger consumers feel connected to your brand in a more organic — and less blatantly promotional — way.
Don’t Be Shady
Apparently, keeping up with the Kardashians may not be the most effective route to reaping digital dividends for your brand. Last year, TruthinAdvertising.org, a nonprofit that fights deceptive advertising, accused the Kardashian sisters of posting dozens of Instagram ads that violated guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission, because they allegedly made promotional posts without clearly acknowledging that they had been “paid or given something of value” for them.
Many brands, as well as the social media influencers and celebrities they employ, have encountered similar pitfalls when it comes to making sure that they are following all of the guidelines for ethical online advertising — especially in the social media realm, which is still very new.
The FTC suggests using “#ad” or “#sponsored” at the start of sponsored social media posts. In other words: It may be worth it to go the extra mile to keep it real.
Don’t Confuse Your Constituents
“Your social media presence should be an extension of what your [brand] lives and breathes every day — whether that’s in the corporate office, in the factory or in the store with the products,” explained Kate Turkcan, VP of Youth Insights at marketing firm Kantar Futures. “It shouldn’t feel like some separate world where you have some 20-year-old intern off running and creating hashtags.”
Many older executives, who may feel that they’ve “aged out” and aren’t able to manage their firm’s presence in a new and hip platform, often dig into the job-applicant pool and pluck out someone who they believe will wave a magic wand and instantly have the company swimming in a sea of likes. But not every younger and seemingly hipper social media guru is right for your brand.
Snapping up an overhyped social media influencer or digital strategist and sending them off to craft your online identity is a major don’t — cohesion is critical.
“What [consumers] should feel with your social presence — whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or on your YouTube channel — is that they’re talking with the same person,” Turkcan advises.