We’ve all heard about social media by now. In fact, you probably are reading this post because of a link posted on a social channel. The internet itself has adapted and allowed us to connect with each other in real time and be…well, social.
The problem we are facing now is that entities, not people, are making the jump into our social arena. A system that was designed for people to connect with people is now being used by brands to connect with people, and since most of those joining have a monetary interest at heart, they do some pretty stupid things in public.
So heres to the brands that are trying to help. The following is a don’t list; a black list of things you should never ever do if you want your brand to succeed online.
#1) Use it to complain
One of THE WORST things you can do on social media is complain. No one likes a complainer. What makes it a thousand times worse though is when a brand (personal or otherwise) does it in a public forum or social channel. You wouldn’t get on stage in front of thousands of people and complain, so why do it on? It’s the same exact thing minus the physical space.
Complaining is not only annoying to your following, but it also makes your brand look stupid and immature. You know who complains? Babies complain. Whiners complain. People wanting attention complain. Don’t let your brand perception be the useless negativity of a 5 year old.
Now I’m not saying that complaining is the same thing as telling another brand about a negative experience, because it’s not. If you are at a restaurant and the food is bad, the servers are horrible and the tables are dirty, feel free to let the restaurant know, even via social media. The realm of complaining begins when you air frustration without giving the person or brand a chance to fix the problem.
Tweeting that the food sucks and pointlessly bashing a restaurant because of a negative experience doesn’t solve any problems, it doesn’t improve the situation and it doesn’t help you or the restaurant in any way.
Complaining for no reason only makes you and your brand look like an ass.
#2) Use it to Insult
Along the same lines of complaining, we have insulting someone. If you or your brand openly and publicly talks negatively about a person, you are damaging everything you’ve tried to build thus far. Like complaining, insulting not only makes you look immature, but it paints a picture of distrust and dishonesty.
Insulting is talking negatively about someone, again, without giving them a chance to fix the problem. It doesn’t make a situation any better, and it only makes you look like coward. Even when you think its all in good fun, be careful what you say. In text and online, you lose tone of voice and body language, which is a major factor in the delivery of humor.
Insulting someone will repel your audience and ultimately will only bring you down. It can take years to build a positive brand, but it only takes minutes to destroy it. If you insult someone from a personal profile, people just assume you’re an ass. If you insult someone from a brand profile, people assume the entire brand is an ass.
Don’t be one. Be nice.
#3) Use to tell us what you’re eating for lunch
BLT? No freaking way! I love those! That post made my day. Nooootttttttttttt. Tweeting about your bodily nourishment is pointless on a personal profile, but on a brand page, it goes beyond pointless. It can be downright confusing.
If people connect with your brand page, chances are they like you or your business. Most of the time it’s both. But giving someone an intimate look into your life so deep that you reveal the substances you are about to consume is a little extreme. Not to mention inconsistent.
If you’re a chef that goes around and reviews food or something, feel free to post your lunch every day. If you’re in some other business that has nothing to do with food, you’re wasting bandwidth. People connect with you professionally to hear about your industry, your business and your thoughts. Unless your food is part of a spiritual awakening or a life changing experience that affects the direction of your business, people won’t understand why you’re posting about lunch.
Don’t do it.
#4) Post Inconsistent Personal Content
Although intoxication is a very likely situation that you may find yourself in, this rule pretty much applies to any inconsistent behavior. Your brand has an image. Whatever that image is, it needs to be maintained so that others know what you stand for. If it’s not, any effort to build a brand will fail.
Imagine you have a boss that thinks you are just the perfect little worker. You’re so nice, you’re so helpful, and you’re so innocent. Your boss decides to go on your Facebook page one day, and to his surprise, he sees a picture that portrays you in a different light. The picture shows you wasted with your friends with half of an Oompa Loompa costume on hanging from a stripper pole throwing gang signs to the camera.
Your boss is shocked. Sure this has nothing to do with the business, but it is completely different from his view of you. It is completely different from his perception of your personal brand. Your boss can never look at you the same way. Years of building the perception of you being a hard worker was ruined by one photo of you trying to be a stripper in the chocolate factory.
If it is inconsistent and it doesn’t match with your brand, don’t do it. Don’t post it. Don’t talk about it. Its irrelevant.
#5) Use a faceless Logo as a Profile Picture
If your default profile picture is a logo, either remove it or shoot yourself. There is a reason why personal brands emerge even when a brand is so big any one person can never fully represent it. There is a reason why people think Steve Jobs, not Apple, invented the iPhone. There is a reason why people think Donald Trump, not his company, made millions of dollars in real estate. There is a reason big brands have a designated spokesperson.
Its because people like to connect with people. A logo is just a thing. It has no heart, it has no soul, and it cant talk. All people know about a brand is what other people tell them. PEOPLE being the keyword here.
If your goal is to connect with people on social channels (what else would it be?) then you need to be one of them. Putting up a logo as your default picture makes you inhuman. It makes you a currency generating machine. It makes you a soulless entity set out to manipulate the minds of the population into loving you.
People don’t quite know how to react when talking to a logo. In a way you are inhuman, and it makes the experience quite odd, especially if you are not one of the big dogs.
#6) Link Social Accounts Together Because of Laziness
For the love of kittens, please don’t link your social accounts together. You know, that tempting link on Facebook that asks you if you want to post your tweets as status updates. That profile setting in twitter that asks you if you want to tweet your status updates. Don’t press it.
Hypothetical question: If I follow you on twitter, and I look up your Facebook page, and I find that whatever you tweet on twitter posts on Facebook automatically, why the hell would I add you on Facebook as well?
Aside from flat out duplicate content, people connect with you on channels because you’ve done something worth connecting with. But reading all of your posts twice is a stupid hoop to put them through.
Not only is it annoying, but Twitter and Facebook are actually very different platforms. The things you post on one, doesn’t always translate well to the other. Not to mention situations like going on a tweeting spree and accidentally flooding your Facebook page. Having @ mentions with no context show up in public on Facebook, and just having your audience feel like you don’t care enough to post uniquely on each platform.
It’s bad for business, don’t do it.
#7) Over-Personalize the Brand
A big mistake I see a lot of brands make is that they just get too human on social channels. Your personal brand has a prestige about it. It’s not you, but rather a fraction of you; it is its own persona. There is nothing wrong with admitting mistakes and showing that you are human, but over personalizing your brand can end up hurting the brand, because you are only human.
Your brand is bigger than you, even if you yourself are the brand. The brand extends online, it is timeless in print and it ignites conversation when you are not there.
Imagine your favorite celebrity. Let’s pretend its Vin Diesel (hey, I like the fast & furious movies). So part of the prestige of Vin Diesel is his inaccessibility. Normal people have no clue how to get ahold of Vin. If people want him for a movie, they have to call his agent. Vin’s brand is bigger than himself, because he isn’t readily available to everyone.
Now imagine if Vin put his personal phone number up for the public to see, and personally answered all of his phone calls. 24/7, all day non sop people called him, and he would talk to every single one. People would be excited at first, because the brand perception of Vin Diesel is pretty high. After a while of talking to him though, people would realize he was only human. When they made this realization, the value of the brand goes down, because people think of his brand as more than human.
Over-personalization of a brand can damage its prestige. Be careful.
So, that’s that.
If you learned something, comment and tell me what. If you didn’t, comment and tell me how I suck. Either way, comment.