Lists of social media disasters are like new versions of worst-dressed lists. And there’s no such thing as not being on social media. If you’re not actively pursuing your brand on social, someone else is, and probably not the way you want to be. And being the butt of a joke you never intended to make has staying power: things do not disappear on the Internet. The bottom line is that you’re a brand whether you have no control over it (bad) or you control it (good).
This isn’t just about consumers, either: it’s about your workforce. Social media has helped erase the wall between consumer and job candidate. Most candidates are well aware of a company via its messaging on social well before they consider applying for a job. So a messaging miss is a missed potential candidate, too.
So here’s a simple playbook for people and brands of all sizes to start with. First, the two most important rules: Be social. Try not to mess it up.
Here are 5 tips:
1) No canned ham please.
Impersonal content plastered onto your social media presence is like serving spam at brunch, only without the “aren’t we so Mad Men” irony. We have an 8-second attention span and that’s shorter than a goldfish’s. And we like things that are relevant to us and grab at our impatient hearts. So personalize it or it won’t count. Moreover, once you’re branded as spammy, that window of influence shuts. Potential candidate-wise, if you’re trying to pull one over on the world, you could also smokescreen employees.
2) It’s not just about Facebook.
Some people say Facebook is so 2011. Why? To share content the way we used to in 2011, we have to pay for it now. Which is, um, advertising, a.k.a. spam. Sponsored content is faux-real, as opposed to for real. It’s still relevant, but consider other platforms, such as Snapchat (100 million + reported users), Instagram (420 million), Flipboard (70 million and rising), and Whatsapp (1 billion). And of course, talent portals like LinkedIn.
3) Don’t ignore your target.
What’s your market? If it’s grownup grownups (ages 55-64) then you’d best be on Twitter, where that’s the fastest growing new age group. If it’s teens, you’d better be on Instagram. If you want to recruit Gen Y and Gen Z candidates, don’t try to do it through traditional methods. Assume you are going to reach them via smartphone and social, and message accordingly.
4) Think first.
Remember what I said about irony? Same with cleverness: along with our quick attention span is a well-honed bullshit reflex. The wall of social media shame is filled with examples of facepalm social media moves that backfired. Especially true with tweeting, such as LG’s smartphone campaign, which mocked the iPhone via tweets sent from an iPhone. Trying so hard that you fail is not a draw from potential employees. D’Oh.
5) It’s not just about ROI.
I’ve gone over this before, but social is the future. We’re expected to have 2.5 billion social media users worldwide by 2018. And right now, 90% of adults age 18 – 29 are using social media. A solid one third of all Millennials say it’s their preferred channel for communicating with businesses. Their habits are not going to change. What’s trending now is going to be normal later. And this is where your workforce comes from. Even if you can’t quantify, dollar for dollar, or even hire for hire, what the value of social is, at some point very soon, that’s all going to be a non-issue.
Social media allows us to be more agile. Immediate. Fluid. Transparent. Honest. Candid. Also, unfiltered, thoughtless, blockheaded. But more than anything, social is the way we exist. It’s far more than just sending a tweet or posting an announcement. It’s an entire currency of thought, and it’s the future of work. #Goodluck and keep me posted please.
A version of Forbes.