I always get a lot of interesting looks from people when I wear a particular t-shirt. It was made years ago by my friend Brad Abare who runs Church Marketing Sucks, a site dedicated to helping churches suck less in their messaging. Brilliant stuff. Brad’s take over the years is that The Church has a good message to share, but generally falls on their face when they try to deliver it. They are overbearing and off mark, and tend to alienate those that they are trying to talk to. Does that sound like any company you know? I’m sure it does, just that statement “overbearing and off mark” makes me think of a half dozen organizations; I’ll let your imagination fill in the names, I won’t do so here.
As it relates to social media, I think a very common mistake that many companies make is doing things the same old way. Especially with large brands, once PR, HR and a few corporate attorneys get their hands on the social media marketing plan it starts to look like…well, what they’ve always done. Carefully crafted letters and press releases are posted in new mediums and are then called “social media”. Let me make something perfectly clear: the use of a social media channel does not mean that you are in fact engaged in social media.
For social media to be effective, old ways must be shed. No longer can you preach (pardon the pun, given the opening paragraph) to your audience about your product from a podium. Filling your Twitter stream with an RSS feed that is only pushing content out isn’t enough, because the podium doesn’t exist anymore. Instead you are in a social circle, with people all around, talking, questioning and interacting with your brand. If you don’t engage in a personal and likable way, your brand is doomed to fade into obscurity on that channel.
“But that’s the way we’ve always done it”. I know, I understand. It’s hard to move into a new arena without HR, PR and William from legal looking over everything that goes out…but it’s going to be okay. In fact, it’s going to be more than okay, it’s going to be liberating. You will find that once you break the bonds of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” you will find new freedom with your brand and your messaging, and ultimately that will turn into a nice bump in revenue.
Of course there are guidelines for everything that is done publicly, but that is another post for another time.