Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Social Media Is Fraught with Perils

Whether you are an individual or a brand, social media puts many challenges in our path. If you are having a bad day, your personal voice can easily lean toward the negative. A company brand voice can do the same.

Do the links that attract your attention today tend to talk about potential mistakes or potential successes? Are you posting articles about bad news stories or good ones? If you are drawn to the negative, it might be a good idea to take a break, take a walk, get a fresh perspective.

There is a fine line, however, between real enthusiasm and sounding over-emphatic. Sometimes it's hard to tell where that line falls. Here are some of my tips for walking the line:

  1. Universal truth--If that meme would make anyone with a heartbeat give you a high-five, you're good to go.
  2. Check the source--A great quote can still come from a controversial person. If you think your audience might object to the name at the bottom of the meme, you might want to find another one with a similar sentiment.
  3. Timeliness--If something negative is actually taking place locally (like a fire) or it is a trending topic and you don't mention it, you might sound out of touch. It is never out of place to wish a current event would work out as well as possible or express condolences.
  4. Watch out for cleverness--You are a writer and a clever turn of phrase is probably your bread-and-butter, but how many times have we seen communications pros get caught in a clever--but tasteless--tweet? Too many. Use a scheduler like HootSuite to give you time to look at that 140 characters before it gets published. Or better yet, run it past a trusted colleague if you think it is worthy, but may cross a line. 
  5. Know your audience--What are they interested in? What do you have in common? What do they like that may not be your cup of tea? Your client's audience is not you necessarily. Put yourself in your target's shoes.
Sometimes personal social media communication can get difficult. We are all out there, shouting into the void and hoping likeminded folks are listening. Things can be misunderstood, misconstrued, miscommunicated. Body language is no help. Keep your pinkie off the Caps Lock key and take a breath. Your friend might be having a bad day, too.


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