What We’ve Learned from Social Media in 2013

Social media has revolutionized our world, from the way friends interact with one another to the way businesses market their products and maintain their public image.

While social media has the power to reinforce a company’s core assertions and offer valuable social proof, it also has the power to wreak havoc on an organization’s brand image and cost countless hours in damage control. Here is a quick look at some of the things we have learned from social media in 2013, from the ways social media can help with marketing efforts to the pitfalls you should avoid.

Benefits of Social Media

When it comes to gaining exposure for your brand and engaging your target audience, social media presents a great opportunity for large businesses and blossoming entrepreneurs alike. Here are a few ways you can use social media to your advantage and watch your company’s reputation flourish:


  • Catchy communication: Twitter allows users to send short messages in order to engage with large audiences. Twitter gives companies a chance to write witty, catchy messages in 140 characters or fewer while simultaneously demonstrating their opinions and agendas by “following” other individuals and organizations. Twitter also allows companies to engage with individuals on their own turf by tweeting about current events, entertainment news, and other things that audiences care about.  Furthermore, Twitter allows companies to see what the public is saying about them and to respond when pertinent. Research some examples ofhow brands are using Twitter to their advantage and take notes on how you can do the same.
  • Power in numbers:  Simply having a lot of followers on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook can help reinforce your brand and convince others that your company is worthy of trust.  Some companies use contests or discounts as a way to gain more followers, often with instructions along the lines of: “Like this page on Facebook and get a free small pizza with your next visit.”

Social Media Mishaps to Avoid

Of course, while social media can be a powerful tool for helping improve your brand image, it can also be a powerful force in harming it. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to operating your organization’s social media accounts.


  • Oversharing: Oversharing on social media accounts can present a security threat, but it can also present the threat of alienating followers and potential customers. Some companies make the mistake of posting on social media too frequently, simply to gain brand exposure. While social media can be an excellent source of free advertising when used appropriately, oversharing is a surefire way to annoy customers and lose followers.  Make sure your company’s posts are either helpful or entertaining to social media users.This will make them more likely to engage with your posts or even share your posts with friends.
  • Insensitive newsjacking:  Newsjacking occurs when someone sends a message that piggybacks off a popular news story or trending event. This can be done tastefully and isn’t always a bad thing. For instance, when the power went out during Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo tweeted, “Power out?  No problem” with a picture of an Oreo in a dark area and the tagline “You can still dunk in the dark.” However, newsjacking can become negative when it is done insensitively and piggybacks off of a tragic event (for instance, many people were outraged when organizations newsjacked Hurricane Sandy for promotional purposes). It is important to think carefully before employing a newsjacking strategy and to pick a news story that is not too upsetting or controversial.
  • Refusing to reply to negative comments: Responding to negative comments and customer concerns can be a great way to defend your brand. Of course, not all comments deserve a response (for example, if they are inappropriate or unfounded), which is why it is important to create privacy settings on Facebook that allow you to approve comments before they are posted publicly on your wall. Still, a legitimate concern from a customer deserves a response and can serve as a great way to state your case and defend your company.


Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer with a focus on social media and marketing.  She can be found typing away on her laptop in cold Cleveland, OH. Stacey welcomes your feedback via email.