A high school intern at a small newspaper, I was once assigned the task of asking “people on the street” about New Coke. (We all have to start somewhere in journalism. That’s where I started.)
One guy said he preferred Pepsi. Grading on a low curve, this counted as our most interesting answer. But then he called us later, begging to pull his answer because he feared offending Coke drinkers.
Social Media has brought out the over-sharer in many people, but many small companies, organizations, and institutions are like my fearful Pepsi-loving “person on the street.” Fear sucks the life out of social media engagement.
Of course, most organizations do not need or want to delve into highly divisive topics. But if you’re having trouble posting on social media at least three times a week, it may be that you’re too timid. Here’s three tips that will take the “fear of offending” out of social media.
- Stay positive. It’s hard to offend when you’re only stating what you love, like, or admire. “I love Pepsi!” is non-offensive to even the most diehard Coke fan. “Coke is for losers” is another matter altogether.
- Thick skins, people! Some organizations avoid starting any conversation that might have a negative component. If I mention our new Pumpkin coffee drink, will people complain about the seasonal mint drink disappearing? Maybe. But a couple of semi-negative comments won’t kill you – or your brand. If you rub elbows on the internet, someone is going to say something negative. So what? If it’s vulgar, block them. If it’s dumb, ignore them. If they’ve kind of got a point… “your coffee was lukewarm” … then respond. “Thanks for trying us out, Joe. We recently replaced our coffee maker. I hope you give us another chance.”
- Remember: your social media feed isn’t the Academy Awards. Some organizations overthink issues like: “Will client X be upset if I mention client Y’s event?” Stop. No one is keeping track. If you’re worried you’re overlooking Client X, you won’t fix that by having a less active social media account.
Social media requires sensitivity and finesse, but not fear. Because fear is the surest way to turn your social media feed into the home of the Walking Dead.
— Beverly Bartlett
C2 Senior Strategist