Tread lightly through the social media minefield

For digital marketers, social media is a double-edged sword that can never be sheathed.

Like it or not, all companies must contend with platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. There’s simply no way one can forego social media strategy and be successful. In other words, we’re all forced to wield a deadly weapon on a daily basis.

Even seemingly savvy companies can make well-intentioned, but fatal, mistakes. Last year, there was the disastrous Boston Marathon tweet from Adidas, and in 2016, Cinnabon’s tasteless “buns” tribute to Carrie Fisher, to give just two examples.

So how do you avoid these pitfalls – and find a strategy that works?

With great power…

First, understand that social media is a powerful tool.

With one little tweet, you can set the internet afire and become a household name. And it’s basically free to use. For these reasons, it’s tempting to think of it as a genie in a bottle, who will grant your wishes if you simply ask in the right way.

Obviously, that’s the wrong way to look at it. You’ve got to treat it like you would any other advertising venue – which means research, consistency, some creativity, and a little humility.

Some basic safety tips

This begins with learning from the mistakes of the pros. The 7 Biggest Social Media Fails of 2017, from Entrepreneur, is a good place to start. PC Magazine’s 19 Massive Corporate Social Media Horror Stories is another.

And take strategy seriously. Though getting your message to go viral (without backfiring) may seem like shooting fish in a barrel, striking gold actually requires a great deal of nuance. And even then, there are no guarantees.

Step One here is knowing the audience. As Business.com suggests, don’t just try to appeal to the widest audience possible – focus on potential customers instead of a likeminded fanbase. Moreover, the website says, it is “essential to address your local audience,” as a globalized one “isn’t likely to convert to customers.”

But what about avoiding the sort of inappropriate, culturally tone-deaf posts that get big brands in trouble? It might seem like a problem with an obvious solution, but considering how often it happens, clearly this is an easy mine to step on.

“The thing about social media is that everyone has differing opinions, and it’s easy for meaning and context to get misconstrued,” Entrepreneur writer Samuel Edwards writes. He recommends establishing “a detailed posting policy where multiple pairs of eyes have to sign off on a tweet or post before it can be published.”

In other words, don’t put all your posting power in the hands of one person. Even experienced social media managers need someone to watch their back.

What about your back?

If you’re considering a social media strategy, or revamping one you already have, we’d love to be that second pair of eyes. So reach out to us for a FREE consultation, and we’ll get you started on your (controversy-free) path to social media success.

Declan Desmond