10 Ways Brands Are Turning Off Customers Online

Brands of all sizes make mistakes online. Not all are of the NSFW airline variety, but most of us have made mistakes with our digital strategies at one point or another. Just look at this Tweet which accidentally went out from the American Red Cross.


The Red Cross responded with this humble, humanizing Tweet: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet, but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” It didn’t end there, however, as several brewers and bars which stocked Dogfish Head beer turned the Tweet into an opportunity to promote themselves: offering a free pint for any who would donate blood to the Red Cross.

That’s the hidden beauty and underlying risk of authentic online communications: sometimes mistakes lead to opportunities. At other times they result in people getting fired and apologetic press releases being put out, like the former PR professional who made a disastrous Tweet en-route to South Africa about AIDS, costing her a job with IAC, a large media company.

There are hundreds of other cases bouncing around the internet. I’m sure after a few pints of Dogfish Head beer we’d all remember a few examples. But what about those everyday mistakes? Those moments in the average day which don’t go viral, but which have a cumulative negative impact on your customer engagement?

There are hundreds of examples of these customer turnoffs online, too; here are 10 of the most common.

1. Ignoring Twitter Complaints

According to data from evolve24, only 29% of Americans who complain on Twitter receive a response back. Leaving 71% disappointed and feeling ignored.

Which is surprising, because contact center of live chat agents who hang up on a customer who was complaining wouldn’t be working that kind of job for long. So why is it different on social media? LiveOps reports that 85% of customers feel that how a company responds across all channels is a positive indicator of the level of support they can expect, and so it reflects on the company as a whole.

Zappos is a great example of what to do right on social networks.


2. Do you really need to be on Facebook?

With nearly 1.3 billion users Facebook now has a population approaching that of China, which gives it enormous gravitational pull for those wanting “free” social media engagement. The problem is that Facebook is not a relevant channel for all brands. Not only that, but customers don’t feel the need to connect with every company they spend money with on Facebook.

According to the TNS Digital Life study of 72,000 people from 60 countries found that, ‘57 percent of consumers in developed markets do not want to engage with brands via social media.’

Investing in the wrong channels could easily lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Both for a brand and for the customer, who can feel bombarded with digital spam.


Why does 86% of email go unread? Think back to the last email you received that was irrelevant to you. Did you read it to the end? Check out this Case Study on how to re-capture your audience’s attention in your own campaigns.


3. Not posting an image with an update.

As Pinterest and Instagram have proven, those who publish with images do better than those who don’t. Plain text will always fall second to text with an image. Which is why it hinders digital engagement when you fail to put an image with an update.

BuzzFeed uses this to great effect. For example, Mr Ryan Gosling on his 33rd birthday:


4. Desperate hashtag hijacking

Using a hashtag well, in the context of an online conversation where your brand or message needs to be involved, is a great strategy.

However, just jumping in an hashtags which aren’t relevant make you look desperate or clueless. Like the following Tweet from contemporary furniture company Habitat:


After the #iPhone Tweet they muscled in on the Iranian election (#MOUSAVI), and even #TrueBlood. They got noticed, but not in a way which helped sales.

5. #Hashtag #Overload #on #Instagram

While hashtags can be useful, in the right context, there is a tendency on Instagram to weigh down the description until it is a mess of hashtags covering every possible keyword. This doesn’t improve engagement or click through rates.

Although visually done very well, the 12 accompanying hashtags are too many. Sorry Home Depot.


6. Not having a strategy.

On a LinkedIn Q&A, Marvin Powell, a Small Business Growth Consultant in Washington DC, asked people about the mistakes their brands had made on social media.

One of the key issues was approaching digital engagement without a strategy. Noreen Poli, Manager Social Enterprise Implementations, pointed out that “the biggest mistake [brands make] is not having a clear strategy around why they are using it that aligns with a strategy of what they want out of it.”

7. Not being relevant.

As Laura Kowalski, a Business Consultant pointed out on the same LinkedIn Q&A, “I don’t want to get ten tweets a day hearing about YOU. I want to hear things that are valuable for me and my life and they need to be fast. And not too frequent.”

This is a frequent problem amongst brands online.

8. Jumping on a bandwagon too early, with no planning.

This is an issue which is broader than Facebook. With new promising social media nirvana’s appearing all the time, like Pinterest, it can be easy to get caught in the ‘but we have to!’ hype.

Kristian Chronister, Jewelry.com President said that, “I see many businesses getting on social media because “everyone else is” or “we just have to” but without a clear purpose or a plan.”

“One wouldn’t open a new store, address a new market, or open a new sales region without extensive planning, goals, organization and thought. And yet, many small businesses (especially sole proprietors) just up and register for Twitter, etc. One night and wade right in.”


9. How well do you understand the demographics of each social network? 

Having this knowledge before jumping on one or more social networks might save a lot of money and time. Once your aims and audience have been narrowed down, which can be supported with a service like Attentive.ly which offers social media listening, then pick the right social network(s) for your needs.

The table below should be a useful guide:


10. Not having enough fun online!

Here’s one very easily overlooked aspect of engagement on social networks: they are social! This doesn’t mean it’s time to crack open the Dogfish Head beer before you Tweet, but it does mean that you should always think of these platforms as ‘social’ first, ‘networks’ second.

Which means the best – by far the best – type of content to craft engages, informs, and brings a smile to your fans. That’s surely the most effective way to stop turning customers off online and start to engage people on social networks in a way which generates ongoing returns, and smiles.


Struggling with your marketing campaigns? Investigate the ways others are tackling similar challenges and attend an online demonstration here or read more about how others are doing it.

Attentive.ly is a social behavior platform for modern marketing teams. We help brands and organizations predict how customers and supporters will behave – even what they might do or buy – from social data. It has been used by over 100 companies and organizations to improve thousands of email marketing and social media campaigns.