The problem with anti-social media

Below waist mage of rolled up newspaper in hand be carried by person wearing jeans.

Let's start with a question, would you send your customers a printed daily newsletter full of random content you'd never seen? No? Me neither.

Yet a quick glance around Facebook or Twitter and you’ll find plenty of companies announcing their “Daily” is out, an online collection of randomly linked content that just happens to share a few keywords with their own business. It’s like junk mail, only in 140 characters. At best it’s just annoying and is easily cured with a swift “unfollow”. At worst it’s potentially disastrous…

Just recently a Tweet from a major brand’s local outlet proudly delivered their “Daily” to my Twitter feed and, being a loyal customer, I had a look. There, in among the good stories, were two terrible ones that quickly caught my eye. The first detailed a study that suggested customers of the brand in question were more likely to have an extramarital affair than those of other brands. The second announcing a US government study that proved it’s products to have fatal flaws…

A quick Tweet back to the manager of the outlet outlining the faux pas and a very apologetic “Ooppss” message came back. It was a considered and appropriate response to an embarrassing cock-up. But how did it happen?

Simple. When you set up these types of automated Social Media posts you simply select subjects you want to read (Tweet) about. Your brand, region or industry may seem like a good, simple choice. But it’s in this simplicity that a big flaw is found. It doesn’t (or more accurately can’t) segregate good news from bad. If it’s a negative story about you, your company, your brand or your products it’s likely to find it’s way into your “Daily”.

Now I’d never try and silence a critic. A critic’s opinion is arguably more useful to me than of those who heap praise. But I’ll never be convinced it’s a great idea to blindly rebroadcast their comments to the world…

It remains my opinion that social Media for brands works best when it’s personal. When Tweets and status updates are written and posted by people who know and fully represent the brand. When posts are from real people about real stories they can be effective and positive medium. You can’t cheat, you shouldn’t automate and you must post stories that are relevant to the audience you’re speaking to.

In short, the principles of good marketing haven’t changed. It's just the delivery method that's changed.

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