Social Media 'No-No's': 5 Reminders

Every week seems to bring another social-media slip-up -- whether from a politician, publication, celebrity or brand. Before the initial public disgust, embarrassment and inevitable apology fade from our memory, someone writes an advice column about the do's and don't's of social media. This week, I’m proactively offering up this advice in advance of the next social fiasco.

While some of these are cautionary, in terms of preventing backlash and embarrassment, a few also address foundational rules for good branding practices online.

1.    Say "no" to hate. When Cheerios shared their commercial featuring an interracial couple and their mixed-race child, YouTube trolls left ignorant and bigoted comments demanding its removal. Staying true to their core values, General Mills and the Cheerios brand were overwhelmingly embraced for their support of the spot. The lesson is simple: believe in your brand and have faith in the conscience and intelligence of your customers. Don't give in to hate.



2.    Say "no" to ignoring context. Too often, brands post the same content across all of their social environments. With so much energy focused on developing digital content, it’s time for marketers to invest in understanding the context of their customer interaction when deploying the content across unique channels 

3.    Say "no" to brand-speak. Given the potential reach, marketers are often tempted to hard-sell their products through social channels. Consumers don’t want their social experience disrupted by a sales pitch. Brands should avoid speaking solely about themselves and instead aim to spark conversation and deliver relevant information, allowing consumers to engage on their own terms. 

4.    Say "no" to the bandwagon. The flip side of speaking about oneself all the time is jumping into a conversation you have no relevance to. When a topic of conversation starts to trend, brands sometimes feel the obligation to participate. While on the surface this allows them to appear timely or in the know, it also has the potential to be at odds with their true brand voice. Savvy consumers sniff out inauthenticity faster than they can say "hashtag." 

5.    Say "no" to inflexibility. While planning content calendars and scheduling posts are an important part of managing your social media presence, allowing the flexibility to respond to timely events can pay dividends. Most brands don’t have the luxury of significant resources such as the heralded Oreo Super Bowl team, but simply empowering your social media team to react quickly can lead to effective content that generates buzz and pass-alongs.

Remember, helping your brand succeed socially requires diligence and the same focus that other channels demand. Have a strategy in mind. And in the end, be bold enough to experiment and humble enough to yield to a bit of caution and common sense.

2 comments about "Social Media 'No-No's': 5 Reminders".
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  1. Jeff Totten from McNeese State University, July 19, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing this information. I'm slowly learning about social media in marketing and I appreciate these tips.

  2. Leslie Ozer from #1 Cochran Automotive, July 19, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.

    Great tips! They're clear and seemingly "common sense", but in this fast-paced, competitive world, we often forget the basics or simply ignore our core values. Reminders like these are essential and much appreciated!

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