let’s talk about automating social media engagement, shall we?
I mentioned in my “social media management in times of national crisis” post my dislike of automating social media engagement and that we’d touch on that topic at another time.
Well, the time has come.
I understand the allure of scheduling social media posts. I get it. People are busy and crafting witty messages and uploading in real time takes a lot of effort. It’s simple to think that pre-crafting updates and setting them up to post automatically would be an easy solution.
But doing so opens the door for your brand to seem stale, your updates to reek of lacking humanity, and leaves you vulnerable to miss out on key opportunities.
Mickey Nall, 2013 PRSA Chair & CEO agrees. And he’s written about it at length. Nall goes as far as to call receiving automated responses “disingenuous, painful to read and, frankly, a bit insulting.”
And I have to agree.
Social media is, in its very nature and by its name, social. People expect that when engaging with people, organizations, brands, etc in social media they are talking to a person. There is another human on the other side of the iPhone, laptop, or tablet reading and responding to posts. Automating this process takes the social out of social media and replaces it with a robotic process that can harm your brand in more ways than I can count.
We’ve addressed in my previous post how automated tweets can backfire during a time of crisis and make your brand seem detached and insensitive. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
When the personal process of crafting unique content and updating by hand is removed, it’s very easy to become detached from the monitoring and responding aspect of social media as well. Without a need to visit the page to update, engagement can go down and interactions become stale. Nall’s example of the Progressive debacle hits this right on the nose. You can’t respond to everyone with the same canned content. You are not a robot. Or at least, you shouldn’t be.
Canned content leaves little room for capitalizing on what is happening in the world and using this for your brand. Keeping an eye on the social media conversations happening is a great way to see what is popular in the moment and relevant to your community. These are opportunities for you to insert your brand into the conversation that is already happening. And this is missed if you are auto-populating posts weeks in advance.
Not to mention the fact that many services that allow you to auto-update your social media sites tend to be buggy - leading to updates disappearing, not posting, or posting more than once. Which makes the entire brand look sloppy.
My advice is this. Social Media needs to stay social. Removing the human element to respond in real time, capitalize on the news, and monitor/respond to your community changes the conversation from two-way dialogue to one-way message dissemination. You can’t just talk to your community, you need to talk with them.
And you can’t talk with them if a service is doing the talking for you.
social media management in times of national crisis
The events yesterday in Boston were horrible. As has been the case the last few years, I received more news via Twitter and Facebook than anything else. The news media ran late and, a good portion of the time, was inaccurate. I relied on first hand experiences and retweets from people on the ground for most of my information.
Many of my social media strategist friends immediately began posting messages about how brands should be responding, engaging and posting during the tragedy. In light of what happened, here is my opinion on what brands and organizations should do in social media when a national crisis occurs.
1. Check your automatic updates scheduled for the day and edit/reevaluate. I’ll save my hatred of automatic updates on social media for another day, but if you do use these services, check and make sure that you are not scheduled to post something that would be offensive, out of line, or appear that you’re not informed. Many brands utilize national events (i.e. the marathon) to attach their brand to trending topics online. You don’t want to be the brand that offers marathon runners free pizza after the tragedy because you didn’t turn off your auto posts.
2. Post a message that acknowledges the event and offers your condolences and support. If you’re active in social media with a large following, they will be expecting you to address the major event somehow. Posting a message that acknowledges that you know whats going on and your hearts are with the people affected shows you are on top of the news, aware of what’s happening and the importance that it has on your communities’ lives. But…
3. Don’t lose your voice. Make sure the message that you post is still in your brand voice, to your brand community. This is not to say to make the event about you, but don’t forget who you are posting for and to. A great example of this was from my blog friend Charlsie at Elf on the Shelf. She posted the following on the brand’s Facebook page:
The post perfectly addressed the issue, in the brand’s voice and the community responded positively. She was able to make sure people know that the brand was paying attention without saying something out of character.
4. Don’t become an authority, a news source, a crisis center or speculator. Unless you’re actively associated with these types of situations (emergency preparedness, crisis counseling, etc) there is no need to be the voice of news for your community. Your community members will look to other sources for updates and information. And if they’re asking questions you aren’t qualified to answer, direct them somewhere else.
5. Determine your next steps & push pause. This is where opinions differ in terms of where to go from here. You’ve addressed the situation, protected yourself from putting your foot in your mouth, but what now? My personal opinion is to hold on your social media activities for the rest of the day. Not weeks, not until someone is brought to justice, but for the day. It’s insensitive to have a Twitter party 2 hours after people were killed. There’s no need to have people “like” a photo of your product when families are still searching for their loved ones. You can take the afternoon off just this once.
Many people will disagree with me on step 5. I’ve seen a lot of posts saying that brands should continue on like normal, that life shouldn’t stop because of these events, that we sensationalize them and let them take over.
But my thought is this.
I don’t want to live in a world where these events are “normal.” I don’t want to be completely desensitized to shootings and planes flying into buildings and kids dying and bombings. I don’t want to shrug, post a simple message from my brand then continue talking about what Kim Kardashian is wearing, encourage people to buy a hamburger and post cat gifs.
I want to live in a place where we pause and reflect. Where making money and spreading brand messages takes a backseat to rallying around each other. Where we pause for just a moment and acknowledge that the world sucks sometimes.
We can pick up our social media strategy where we left off the next day. But on day’s like yesterday, we can take a break.
Using Twitter Chats to engage your audience
I recently presented at an Advanced Learning Institute training on social media and government - specifically how one of my clients is using Twitter chats to engage with their audiences to spread important information to their followers & start a dialogue around particular issues.
And, I thought perhaps you would like to know some key takeaways that you could use for Twitter chats with your clients.
For background, a Twitter chat (sometimes called a Twitter party) occurs when a handle on Twitter sets a specific date and time to address a particular topic. So, from 1-2pm a Twitter handle may have an expert on hand to talk about depression, yoga, a new movie or product, etc. Users can log into Twitter, follow the chat hashtag and participate, ask questions and learn from other users.
So, here are a few tips if you want to use Twitter chats.
- Set a consistent hashtag and use it for all chats. It will make it easier for people to participate on a month to month basis and recognize when your chats are taking place.
- Invite experts and other organizations that have to do with your topic to co-host, or participate, to increase the chat reach.
- Ask questions in advance to see what people want to hear about. Before drafting your script, ask people what they want to learn about the topic. Then, make sure to address those topics during the chat.
- Use services available that make monitoring and analyzing the success of the chat easier. Tweetchat.com is a great service to use to conduct the chat and TweetReach provides great data post chat for only $20.
- Learn from chats and use those insights in the future. Does your community love lists? What information from chats is more retweeted? What information is not really shared? Are the same questions asked over and over? Analyze each chat for content and sentiment and make changes moving forward.
- Be engaging. No one wants to log into a Twitter chat to just see tweet after tweet of messages from an organization. Ask questions, answer questions, thank people for their participation, and retweet other information. The chat is to share your information but also interact with your followers.
- Post your chat transcripts to your website so that people who were unable to participate can still see what was spoken about.
These are just some basic and easy ways to make your Twitter chats better, or start them in the first place. And if you’re not ready to take the leap for your clients just yet, try participating in chats first. As a participant you can see how others run their chats, see best practices and learn more about the ins and outs.
2013 #socialmedia trends
We’re just about one month into 2013 and many of the trends that have been discussed in the last few months are being put into action.
Here are a few identified at the Mashable Media Summit at the end of the last year that I think we’ll definitely continue to see in the near future.
- Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. People are accessing the internet on their phones more than ever. Make sure your sites are optimized for mobile, that people can do whatever they can on your website on their phones as well. At the summit someone even said to start on mobile and work your way from there. And I agree.
- e-commerce and the user experience. More applications and mobile sites are integrating one click purchasing. Instead of simply interacting with something you can scan it and actually buy it. In catalogs, magazines, and more. An ad should lead to a point of purchase.
- Social first, paid second. Paid media tactics are great, advertising is great, but social is first. Content is king. Focus on your content and using social media channels to get that content to your customer, employee, member, etc. It works.
- Print isn’t dead. The digital marketer loves to say that print is dying, or dead already. That’s not true. People are still buying books and magazines. But print marketers need to make their content digital as well. Interactive through scanning and apps and additional content available online. That is the way for print and digital to live in harmony.
- Images can’t be overstated. They are still the most engaging content on social media. Focus on images that resonate and are important to your audience. And don’t forget about images and content in ads. A billboard won’t drive anything unless it’s engaging and resonates.
These are only a few of the things to keep in mind as we venture further into 2013 and look for ways to stay on the cutting edge for our clients.
These can be applied across industries and topic areas and you can look for ways to integrate them as you execute social media strategy in the next few months.
And don’t forget to keep an eye on the news for companies and brands and agencies that are doing it well - learn from their success and mistakes and look for ways to make it work for you.
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