I frequently find that businesses don’t always think through the content that they are posting to their social media accounts. I don’t mean that in a “What were you thinking!!!” kind of way. But more precisely in a “didn’t have a plan” kind of way.
Businesses that build plans are able to test content, test posting times/dates, and many other factors of their social media posts. It gives them the chance to play “Optometrist” with their audience – do you like it this more… or this?
Simple A-B testing with a quick glance at stats will tell the business what was more successful. Did posts that ask a question garner more comments than statement of fact? Does humor resonate with your audience? Is 9am a better posting time than 4pm?
A plan also helps you drive the conversation. While each post needs to be able to stand on its own two feet, a well thought out campaign allows you to walk potential customers through important aspects of their relationship with a business without feeling forced.
But that doesn’t mean that a business should ignore the current trending topics and viral content on the internet. So long as it can be consistent with your business’ voice and your brand.
Do you post that story about “The Dress”
Consider “The Dress” – what color was that dress anyway? It’s a great opportunity for an Optometrist to talk about issues of color blindness. It’s also a great opportunity for the dress boutiques or other clothing stores to remind their customers to think about lighting and the setting where their clothing will be worn and the importance of considering this when choosing clothing and even accessories. But should an insurance company simply share or post something about the dress because it is currently popular? Is that consistent with their brand?
April Fools Day – Is it For You?
April Fools Day is coming up. Sometimes I think this is the day of the year that the internet was made for. I’ll see headlines of this prank and that prank as the tech start-ups out in Silicon Valley try to out-do each other and reach farther than last year with their gotchas.
Several years ago, I had a conversation with an editor at small community newspaper about whether or not they should put some April Fools content on their website and on their social feeds. On one hand – they didn’t want to be the curmudgeon or the old fuddy-duddy on the block. But they also didn’t want to do anything that caused their readers to loose trust or change how they defined their relationship to the publication.
The role of the news media is definitely to inform. For those that end their brand definition there, it might be a good idea to lay off the April Fools gags. For those that believe that it is also to entertain and engage their audience and have built their brand around these points. A bit of fun with April Fools probably isn’t out of character.
The same is true of businesses. If part of your relationship between your brand and your customers is light-hearted fun, then an April Fools prank isn’t out of character.
The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth
Yesterday, I saw headlines about a woman in Texas who fell victim to a hoax post by the local police department about Ebola in the local Heroin supply. While I can’t believe the woman actually brought it in for testing, I also can’t believe that the police would resort to this kind of post. While I’m not a fan of entrapment, it’s a useful tool for the police. I’m not going to get into a debate on its legal merits and ethics.
What does bother me is the posting of fake news that relates to public health and wellness. Maybe I spent too long in the media industry. But while the short term benefit of this is an arrest, what happens when there is an actual issue that the police need to communicate. If the public looses faith in the communications, real problems could go unheeded. Granted, Ebola in your drugs. Really, you fell for that?
For businesses this is a cautionary tale. While you probably don’t have the potential for future life and death communications to consider, remember to take the decision that you make about your posts seriously and consider the long term consequences. It may be funny now – but does it hurt your credibility or could it cause you to loose audience for communications when it really counts. Relevant content is the best way to stay relevant to your customers. But even fun things can be made relevant if you present it right.