After a phone conversation with my mother the other day, it hit me like a ton of bricks – she taught me everything I need to know about social media! In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some things I’ve heard her say over the years that have stuck with me and can be applied to social media. You’ve heard most (if not all) of these axioms, admonitions and phrases, I’m sure. Which ones still ring in your head?
Don’t be stingy; share! Sharing is the crux of social media. It’s all about sharing content. As a company or organization, you give people the content they need to become brand ambassadors and share the good word about your product or service. Also, sharing requires generosity. Brands need to create and curate content that is truly useful, informative or entertaining for their audience…while staying true to their core values.
Have you done your homework? Before utilizing social media, you need to do your homework. Where are your customers? What is your competition doing? What conversations are already taking place about about your brand? These and other questions need to be answered in order to define your goals and develop a strategy to meet your objectives.
Your reputation is all you have. Reputation management – need I say more? Now, more than ever, your reputation is in the hands of other people. You’ve given them the content they need to spread the good word about your brand such as photos, videos, interesting stories, etc. What if someone says something negative? When we were younger, we could monitor our reputations by asking a close friend, “What are they saying about me?” These days, Google Alerts and other resources can help answer that question. How to handle negative comments? A good rule of thumb is to reply quickly and honestly, and to not engage in debate. If necessary, take the conversation offline.
You’re wearing that? I remember my mother once asking me, “Don’t you want to put on some lipstick before you go out?” I can’t remember if I was in high school or college, but I do remember that I looked at her like she was crazy. Brands should make sure they’re properly “clothed” before they venture out into the social space. A brand should look at its logo, avatars, profile images, etc. and make sure that everything consistently and accurately portrays its brand personality. Is your brand down-to-earth and casual (no makeup and jeans) or professional and polished (makeup and trendy clothes)?
Think before you speak. Let’s look at this in the context of messaging strategy. It’s important to know what you want to say, before you say it. Everything you say needs to be in character with your brand’s personality. My mother also taught me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” In grade school, if someone made a rude comment it was pretty much forgotten by the next day. With social media, if you make a rude post, it will live in cyberspace forever. Think before you rant. Save the snarky comments for your journal or a private conversation. Inappropriate social posts have caused plenty of firings.
Practice makes perfect. I took piano lessons for umpteen million years and I hated to practice. However, discipline is a good thing. It keeps you from going down a social media “rabbit hole” every day. Schedule your time wisely, stay focused and allocate the necessary resources to communicate effectively through your chosen social media platform(s). My mother also taught me, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”
Pretty is as pretty does. We all know that actions can speak louder than words. Have you ever caught a glance of yourself in the mirror when you were upset? You probably didn’t like what you saw. A brand can talk all it wants about itself, but all of the good branding or “visual varnish” in the world can’t save a bad product. Also, corporate culture speaks volumes to a brand’s core values. If a brand lives its core values every day, then it shows. Just look at Starbucks or Zappo’s. My mother also admonished me to mind my manners, which is sometimes overlooked these days with the fast pace of social media. Always take time to be courteous and friendly.
You’d better have a good report card. Measurement. That’s what a report card is all about. It measures a student’s progress in a given subject. How will you measure your social media progress? It’s important to establish baseline metrics and to know what metrics and conversion activity to track based on your goals and objectives.
If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too? We’ve all heard this one, right? The first time I said it to my own children, I flinched. The key here is to be yourself. Just because other brands are on Twitter, that doesn’t mean you should be there, too. Really. Here’s a link to an article about being authentic in social media.
Finally, there is one lesson that my mother taught me that you do not want to adhere to.
Don’t tell a story. Okay, she really meant “don’t lie.” You DO want to tell stories! Storytelling is at the heart of social communication and the more visual content, the better. Brand stories need to embody the brand, as mentioned above, and should make an emotional connection that inspires some sort of action.
Thank you, Mother, for teaching me lessons that could carry me through the years and into my professional life. I now realize that you were a social media expert even before social media existed!
The hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
-W. R. Wallace
Happy Mother’s Day!