Sahail Ashraf posted on 17 January 2018
Brands on social media have a particularly heavy responsibility in that they have to present a respectable face to the world. Social media is shareable, and people do not expect to see stuff that will go against their own principles.
For this reason, brands entrust their social to quality digital agencies or their own in-house team, with express instructions on what the brand is about, and the message they have been conveying since before they went into business. If it all goes wrong on social, the brand and its reputation can be destroyed.
There are also some things that should never be done by a brand on social media. We thought we would look at just a few of those. A word of caution, if any of the below is news to you, you might want to have a quick team meeting to work out what the hell is going on. This stuff should be obvious, and if it isn’t, you have a problem.
This should go without saying, but sticking things out there that haven’t been fact-checked or are obvious lies is not a good idea. In fact, certain authorities are well within their rights to punish brands that do this.
A brand has a special and unique role in the eyes of customers. To be on social media and relay information that is meant to be factual (whether it is about competitors or not) is a way to find yourself in serious trouble. Even the old joke where a brand calls itself ‘the best ____’ in the world’ has its roots in fact. You can’t say that, even if you’re just boasting and proud of what the brand has achieved.
You can offer an opinion, but if the audience needs to be clear that this is opinion and not fact, then you should be clear. Bear in mind that news sites are often very clear that the work they are covering is ‘the opinion of the writer and not ours’ and you should see that using the Internet to spread false facts and the like is simply not a good idea.
A brand can be sued, or at the very least shamed on social media (some would argue the second outcome is worse) and this means that your clients should be protected at all times. Check those facts (on everything) and/or make it clear that what is being expressed is an opinion, and is most definitely meant to be viewed as so.
And in any case, the one thing a brand needs on social media is the trust of an audience. To offer content that would break that trust would be awful, upsetting to an audience, and the death knell for the brand online.
Now, this is something that can be quite difficult to avoid. Some brands do have a humorous voice, for example, a way of talking to the audience that is just funny. But that ‘funny’ could work with their audience. With another audience, or a new follower, for example, the funny stuff could be downright offensive.
With a brand that does sarcasm every minute of every day (like ‘Funny or Die’) the field is wide open. As long as things are not hurtful the world is fair game. But when a brand puts something out there with no real ‘license’ to do so, and it offends a whole country, things go very wrong very quickly.
This happened to Kenneth Cole. he’s an actual man but also the figure behind a fashion house. Back in 2011, he thought it would be a great idea to publish the following tweet:
‘Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumour is they heard our new Spring collection is now available online at…’
We can’t link to the tweet because it was pulled, unsurprisingly. We’re not even sure Mr Cole knew it wouldn’t be funny, but the fact that some people in Cairo lost a lot due to the ‘uproar’ immediately made it very bad taste.
Humour, no matter what it is like, can be trouble. If you are going to make jokes about anything, just check it is inoffensive before it goes up. You may think it’s funny, it doesn’t mean your followers will.
If you have a negative review online you should repeat one thing to yourself ten times over before you touch the keyboard: the customer is always right.
We know they’re not always right, and sometimes they’re just plain wrong, but responding with anger or rudeness will do absolutely nothing to make things go away. Instead, you’ll end up with a problem that just grows and grows.
The best thing you can do when there is a response to social that causes you or your team members to feel upset or angry is walk away. Give yourself a few minutes to let that anger die down and then respond calmly, and as helpful as possible.
You are there to manage a brand’s social presence. That social presence should be helpful and positive. It is there to provide support and solutions to customers. An angry comment is never personal, and it is for this reason that your response should be rational and positive.
If things really are nasty and they are getting personal and rude with the brand, and then you as an agency that works for the brand, consider taking the problem offline and/or leaving it as it is. True hatred and trouble can always be blocked and deleted. Just don’t indulge yourself. Because that won’t be forgotten.
This is the scourge of the Web, but when it is out there and it’s relevant, everyone likes it. We’re talking about funny cat videos and other stuff like memes that everyone indulges in now and then. In their personal accounts of course.
When that stuff crosses over into brand accounts, there can never be a happy ending. Again, this links to funny. It is an absolutely cast-iron rule that audiences do not want, and are not interested in, funny meme stuff when it’s on a brand’s site. They come to a brand’s site and social to see stuff that they want to learn about and potentially purchase. If your Facebook feed has a meme of a cat or movie star doing something weird it will only ever annoy. Nothing more.
Keep your brand voice as it should be, and make sure that this is the way things are done forevermore. Brands on social media are a thing because they can be done very professionally and be very helpful and trustworthy. They do not publish funny stuff that ‘breaks the Internet’. Because that is not their job.
Save it for Friday night when you’re hanging out with work colleagues. Your audience does not want to see it on your feeds. You can ‘do’ memes, but this has to be part of a very detailed strategy.
Basically, the whole point of a brand’s social media presence is that it has to be professional. If your team isn’t clear on how to be professional, issue guidelines. But make sure the above stuff is the general consensus in the office.
If you would like to have metrics on your client’s social media that give them the full story about a range of platforms, try Locowise for free, for seven days. It produces beautiful reports, with the latest data. You look good, and your clients know how amazingly hard you’ve worked.