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Why Are So Many Midsized Businesses Trashing Their Brand On Social Media?

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Why Are So Many Midsized Businesses Trashing Their Brand On Social Media?

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Last Saturday I was sitting in Trad’r Sam, a dilapidated by well-loved tiki bar in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district, waiting for a friend. Lost in reading I was startled by a disheveled man yelling, “Forty-two.” Caught off guard I broke the cardinal rule when dealing with crazy; I briefly looked up from my reading…Drats. I made eye contact.

Immediately I started reading again while doing my best “You can’t see me” imitation. It didn’t work. “Forty-two. See. What’d I say? Why can’t they? I told you. What’s this? Then there was that guy. They can’t tell me. Forty-two. Ever since. Right?” said the unshaven man with the wild eyes now standing next to me and talking 12 inch from my ear.

Social Media As A Corporate Communications Sewer

He had crossed from the other side of the bar and now had his arm around me like an old buddy desperately trying to make me understand the obvious. He tried to push a dirty beaten leather wallet, with a mutilated picture ID of some kind, unsuccessfully into my hands. Maybe he was just pushing it in my general direction.

As quickly as it had started he was gone. No doubt, off to spread his message of forty-two to the other unwashed and ignorant masses.

As odd as this was, the feeling I experienced was familiar. After reading most midsized and B2B companies’ social media channels I’m often left feeling the same way.

  • Taken aback at their randomness.
  • Confused at what they are saying.
  • Wondering why they bothered since only marketing hacks and senior management (and their moms) care about that drivel they’re spewing.
  • Leaving me with the distinct impression that my presence was not relevant at any level, except to be talked at.

Photo: Yue Wu, The ChronicleWhile the man yelling “forty-two” was in need of mental heath care, senior management doesn’t have the same excuse…well, not for the most part.

Historically, a trend among corporate blogs are this mishmash of press releases, internal employee news, random blog posts that are kind-ish about relevant stuff, and whatever other leftover flotsam marketing communications has to jettison. Sadly, this is usually the social communication strategy style that is heavily favored by most B2B marketing organizations, too.

While this outdated approach is usually supported by the big bosses directly or via abdication of responsibility, they’re deeply, deeply wrong.

Don’t lose your job over this, but try to educate when you can, and start pro-actively managing the content you share on your social channels without asking. Just do it and be smart. Make your social channel’s tell your story, illustrate your grasp on the issues, and lead by focusing on what your customers want to read. Not your bosses.

Don’t Be That Guy From The Tiki Bar

You can fix your social media communications and bring it back into alignment and support your brand story. It’s not that hard, but you have to stop and pay attention. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • What is your brand story? Apple’s is about thinking differently. Do your current social media updates clearly reflect your brand narrative?

  • Before you hit send, ask yourself and others, how does this post, status update, or tweet clearly support our brand’s narrative?

  • If your brand sells ovens for high-end home baking, don’t talk about how Joe is your new GM in the Lansing production plant. Joe’s mom cares, but no one else does. Focus on your customer’s informational pain point: baking. Share baking recipes, tips, and related baking knowledge.

  • If your company’s buyers pain point is about improving their sales process, and that aligns with what you sell, what would you share? If you said sales productivity, research, guided sales, and related sales productivity insights (or something like that), you get a gold star.

  • Don’t be random. One tweet or post a day just seems like you don’t really care and can’t be bothered. How many updates should you have? I would look at a minimum of 5 and move up from there. Hootsuite and Buffer are your friends.

  • The 9 to 1 Ratio. There are a lot of different formulas for how much you should post updates, but I like 9 non-product centric posts for every post about your company or what it’s doing, etc. tweets.

  • Don’t be an attention hog. A strong brand gladly shares tweets, updates etc. from industry thought leaders, bloggers, and awesome customers.

  • Use hashtags, but only one or two.

  • Only use hashtags that are in common use by your target audience.

  • #Don’tGuess #or #makeup #Stupidones #that NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO USE OR SEARCH FOR. What are common hashtags that others talking about your industry are using? Topsy.com is a handy research tool for this.

That’s enough for now. If you can cover these basic you should be in good shape, and will be ahead of 85% of other midsized companies. You can always grow your social media storytelling chops, and should, but get the basics in place.

What else do you do? What are your tips on how to align what you share on social to support your brand story?


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