During my (long) time at Furman University, I was a bartender a few nights a week at Dougal Maguire’s, a hole-in-the-wall pub frequented by English and Irish expats. It’s where I perfected the art of pulling a Guinness and crafting a gorgeous Black & Tan. It’s where I met the Englishman who I would eventually marry and have a child with. It’s where I learned how to curse – really curse – and swing a Hurling stick.
One of the pub owners is now my son’s godfather. He is, and has always been, a great source of wisdom and hard-but-fair advice – given that you learn to decipher the message through his thick County Clare accent.
His best insight: Just because it happened to you doesn’t make it interesting.
I think about this daily. My (admittedly) over-the-top annoyance rises in correlation to the number of asinine posts by parents about their kids. I’m not a hater (I’m a mommy blogger) but most of the stuff kids say isn’t that cute/funny/adorable/share-worthy to anyone other than their parents, and, maybe, their grandparents. This is likewise a lesson most businesses should learn. As Jason McClain points out, y’all have a tendency to share product information ad nauseam. While I’ll offer points for the relentless pursuit of success, these companies need to realize that thousands of other companies are doing it. The Exact. Same. Thing.
Here’s my insight and your truth-bomb: No one cares.
I mean that sincerely, because I fight the same truth. Just like no one cares to read about your toilet paper, no one cares to read about the kick-ass things I do at EnVeritas Group. Unless it benefits them.
Here’s the follow up: Unless it’s useful, don’t post it. More rules to live (or die) by:
- Don’t start a social account if you’re not going to use it. It’s lame when individuals do this (and I admit to my own blog and twitter failures in regular posting/tweeting), but it’s both lame and unprofessional when a business does it.
- Don’t ask for retweets or shares. This digital panty throwing is uncool. You know that solicited interaction isn’t valuable, right?
- Find your audience’s passion points. Rarely do people gather around a brand; instead, they gather to share ideas. If you can find the sweet spot where your brand intersects with shared passion, people will listen. On the other hand, if you’re afraid to have an opinion at all, you’ll find your tweets reduced to the banal. Or you’ll just offend a whole slew of folks. That’s fun.
- In the event of a tragedy, refrain from referencing it to promote your products. In the event of, say, an illness that everyone wishes didn’t exist, don’t fish for likes by referencing said illness. That’s cheap.
- Social media has a tendency to amplify whatever is really going on in your company. Good companies get better and bad companies, well, implode.
Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all choice for everyone. If you use your social channels for customer support, but it takes a day or more for you to resolve issues, you’ve got issues. If you sell an inferior product or treat customers like children (lookin’ at you, Nestlé), get ready for a firefight. On the other hand, if your company bends over backward to provide excellent service, support and products, you’re likely to create a community that shares ideas, increases brand loyalty and is self-sustaining. How do you do that? Find someone at your company who is genuinely passionate about connecting with people. Or hire someone. Just don’t think you can fake it.
Sara Fraser – VP Content Strategy