Monday, July 28, 2014

What I Just Read About Social Media Will Shock You. And No. 3 Will Change Your Life.

Sorry. Did you believe that headline?  Don't feel bad if you were misled. Unfortunately, we have all fallen prey to these social media bear traps. And there are only more to come.

Several of these fallacious posts bombard us each day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. So suffice it to say, there won't be any  panaceas in here to change your life, no earth shaking news, no online marketing solution that will make you gobs and gobs of money utilizing social media. There won't even be a No. 3.

These kinds of sensationalist posts are the latest trend to hit the Inter-webs and what I've dubbed tabloid social media. The subject is usually about some amazing act of kindness or feat, by a dog, baby, or an elderly or physically impaired person. It's really no different from what the media has done for years. They promise something that will tug at your heart strings, give you belly laughs, or change your life.  All high claims that rarely deliver.  And fewer ironically, "shoot lower" and claim to simply interest and engage you.

Click on one or all of these links and you will soon discover they over-exaggerate at best, or flat out lie. It's because though these links almost always deliver a viral video, it's purpose is not to inform or entertain, but to sell whatever is on the landing page. Why not just put a banner ad for wrinkle cream, a new car, or that TV show about a redneck mafia housewife beauty pageant on giraffes? Because banner ads are (pretty much) dead. When was the last time you clicked on one?

So sensational social media posts are the new banner ads until we collectively catch on and stop clicking on them as well. It's just with all the recycled content, we are looking for new things to read about, ones that haven't been repackaged with an astonishing headline or claim.

So though this article did not change your life, it did explain why we are seeing so many of these annoying posts, and how the only way to make them stop is to resist and don't click on them.  Trust me. With all the recycled information on the Web, my sardonic reference to a redneck mafia housewife beauty pageant on giraffes TV show can't be that far away.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Remedial Lesson in Social Media Protocol

So what do you do when your "funny" social media post is universally attacked for being in poor taste, insensitive, and flat out not humorous?  As one celebrity of a poorly-crafted Tweet found out today, don't try to explain it, defend it, and then attack the masses who've pointed out your grievous mistake.

It's just the latest example of social media gone wrong.  In fact it's the equivalent of the home owner who paints his house fluorescent orange and green. When his neighbors complain and he refuses to repaint it, he replies: "Fine. I'll just burn it down."

Deleting an egregious post is the first thing to do. It doesn't make the problem go away nor is it meant to pretend it never happened. And though some might contend that it's an admission of fault, it's not. It's an admission of at the very least a post that wasn't completely thought out and one that is causing outrage instead of providing entertainment or information. And that's what social media is meant to do.  Remove it out of respect.

Did your audience misinterpret your words? Did they not get the joke? Are they overreacting? The answers are irrelevant. If the negative reactions outweighs the positive ones, then you failed in your primary directive. To entice, engage, or entertain your followers. Just swallow your pride and apologize if not for the remark then for at least how it was not your intent to great a negative reaction.

The other lesson individuals and companies can glean form this is to stay within your frame of reference. Make comments and observations about what you know. If I follow a football player, I'm interested in his opinions about the game, players, the draft, heck even commercials. But not only does he have no sphere of reference regarding the fluctuating dollar in Europe, the important part is that do I not care about his take on it.  I watched all the World Cup games this year and I have plenty to say about them and its players; how to best kick a ball into the goal is not one of them.

Unfortunately many people don't have that filter of what is and isn't appropriate. Just ask your Uncle Phil about his comments about the turkey last Thanksgiving. We can respond to anything that moves or touches us regardless of the relevance it has to our lives or business. But if you plan to make it public, make it relevant to you or really don't say it at all.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Avoiding Careless Social Media Brand Strategy

Yet another nail salon opened up in my neighborhood. I think that makes 20 in a three block radius. Like many men, a "nail salon" for me is a hot shower and a nail clipper that my Dad gave me 20 years ago. In my book, if the nails are trimmed neat and clean, then I've done my job. I don't begrudge anyone -- man or woman -- who patronize these establishments. But for me, color on the tips of my fingers and toes is way down on my priority list. Just ahead of starting a wasp circus.

I walk by the new nail salon sometimes four times a day. And if I see the proprietor in the window I'll smile and nod.  Yesterday I introduced myself and welcomed her to the neighborhood so it came as a surprise when she looked at me contritely and did not introduce herself.  Instead of shaking my hand, she grabbed my hand without saying a word not to shake it but to examine it. "You need a manicure," she said. "Come inside now my girls need the work." Most people would agree that this tact showed bad manners and bad business, yet this is exactly the way some brands approach social media.

So many brands and services take the shotgun approach in social media, hoping to hit as many people they can in the crossfire. Problem is no one likes to get shot. Like the nail salon owner, many brands are uninterested in getting to know me, my likes and dislikes. And if they do, they discard me when they find I don't hit the demographic.

Social media is a reflection of our daily lives that is repackaged and then delivered in digital format -- or at least it should be.  The nail salon owner surmised quickly that I wasn't in the target market. Who knows? Maybe I'm considering a future career as a foot model?  Tough to tell with my shoes on. What the nail salon owner could have done was assessed that I was not a likely customer by asking rather than assuming, then show interest and kindness ahead of trying to bully up business with a hard sell. By not doing so, she lost me as a referral to those who would use her business.

Social media done wrong, in turn, can have a similar counterproductive affect. Not engaging potential and current customers may be the best it does. You may alienate them and lose potential referrals. This is what sets good social media brand strategies from bad, and hitting the nail on the head, rather than hitting the nail with a hammer.