Offer Your Social Media Followers Value; or Else (Part 2)

In part 1 we talked about the what and why of social media as distinct from how we’re accustomed to handling traditional media. This time we’re talking about the how—ways to use social media and plan for its unique challenges.

Be prepared.


Be your own worst critic.

What’s often lost in the process of instant publishing is the opportunity for several rounds of review spread over multiple weeks. Without that buffer time to review and reflect it’s easy to make a few mistakes (I even had a typo that got published in part 1—fixed it). Take five minutes to show your work to someone else before you throw that lever. Ask someone what they think of the approach. Show it to someone who’s not a member of your team, department, or even company just to make sure that you haven’t inadvertently written something with a dubious double meaning. Always remember that, even though you’re technically broadcasting, social media by nature is perceived as a personal message.

Write an escape plan.

You can’t always predict how people are going to misinterpret your social media. And once in a while you’re going to make a mistake. Fortunately, everyone makes mistakes. Take time to evaluate the successes and failures of brands you respect and figure out what your team would do in similar situations. What would you do if an antagonizing troll suddenly gathered a following and took up arms? How would you communicate about a major scandal within your ranks? Write out your plan and share it with everyone in the company. Educate your people about how you intend to handle social media armageddon.

Have a sense of humor.

Whenever possible, look for those opportunities to play along with your critics. Not every jab at your brand is an act of war. Find ways to reach out to those in your audience that didn’t get what they expected from you and explore with them how to improve things across the board.

Speak deliberately.


Find your voice.

Your voice is the way you sound and write. It’s the vocabulary you use and the tone with which you use it. Listen to your audience and then craft a voice based on how you’d like them to hear you. Think about how your brand’s personality would be clarified or reinforced by a particular voice whether serious or quirky. How would your voice abbreviate or spell certain words? What things would you voice never say? Write and share samples in your brand’s voice that exemplify how anyone posting as your brand in social media should sound.

Know when to be silent.

Not every single world event needs to get interpreted into a special sales offer. Does your audience even care about that event, holiday, person, part of the country, or sport? I’m always repelled when a brand’s official social media profiles post about a situation when people are dying (I doubt that I’m the only one). Let me share with you some of the most liberating advice I’ve ever received: You can decide to not have an opinion.

Engage with your audience.

Everyone loves to hear their own name. Take the time to respond to individual posts from your audience whenever you can. And, as often as possible, be quicker to express gratitude than recommending additional products or services. These sorts of interactions can become strong relationships and foster greater brand evangelism within your audience.