Brands and businesses need to lighten up on social media. If you want to be a success on social media, you can't afford not to be extemporaneous and extroverted, transparent and true to who you are in real life.
When Ellen DeGeneres pulled together some of Hollywood's biggest superstars for a group shot at the Oscars this year, it may have been a moment of spontaneous fun, but the resultant tweet of this selfie will go down in social media history.
Having been retweeted more than 3.4 million times at last count, this one epic tweet from @TheEllenShow easily surpassed a tweet of President Barack Obama's as the most retweeted ever.
Statistics aside, this tweet served to underscore a point that social media practitioners like me have been preaching to businesses and brands for a long time. Lighten up.
You heard me. Take your work, not yourself, seriously. If the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey can strike a pose for a rather silly selfie at their industry's most prestigious awards ceremony, you can afford to let your hair down every once in a while, too.
In fact, if you really want to be a success on social media, you can't afford not to be extemporaneous and extroverted, transparent and true to who you are in real life, not just your corporate persona. Anything less and you'll get lost in the clutter, overlooked and ignored for your self-promotional messages, business jargon, and corporate speak.
It's the importance of the social in social media that far too many marketers, especially those in the B2B sector, still underestimate. Like trying to force a square peg into a round hole, they're trying to repurpose the same strategies and tactics that may be working just fine on other channels. They're trying too hard.
Those who get social media know that it's far easier to simply be themselves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like. It's far more effective, too. They know enough to be more impromptu than contrived, more conversational than scripted. They know that anything they can do to reveal their authentic selves will pay off more often than not.
That's not to say they don't have a solid social media plan in place, a plan steeped in the best practices and strategies associated with marketing and social commerce. Before doing anything, they do everything they can to learn the makeup of their audience, assess their competition, create new content, brainstorm ideas, and identify the channels on which they'll be promoting their products and services.
But not only does this plan include a comprehensive editorial calendar for sharing news, information, and offers, it includes plenty of opportunities for real-time marketing and constituent engagement. It includes a mandate to be as candid as possible and to put a big smile on the brand.
After all, like any good sales person knows, people want to do business with someone they like and trust, someone who's down to earth and who has a good sense of humor. Don't be the brand who hides behind a logo and pretends to be omnipotent. Be humble, open-minded, and responsive to your audience's needs.
For instance, take a look at how much fun JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) has on Twitter. Despite being at the beck and call of a demanding public, they couldn't be any more chipper, convivial, and conversational on this channel. Cracking jokes, singing people's praises, and extending warm wishes to one and all, they're as warm and welcoming an account as you'll find on Twitter.
Then there's Constant Contact on Facebook. Not only do they go out of their way to provide a wealth of educational resources to their audience, they do so with pleasure. So much of what they share is informational and inspirational. So much of what they say is helpful and cheerful.
Finally, there's Marketing Profs on Instagram, a feed that "celebrates all things marketing." Check it out. You'll see a nice collection of photos from their many special events, conferences, and activities, including a handful of great people shots, too. And they always look like they're having fun.
What about you? Are you having a good time on social media? Are you smiling on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like? Are you ready for your prime-time selfie?
Bob Cargill, who was named "Direct Marketer of the Year" for 2009 by the New England Direct Marketing Association (NEDMA), is director of social media at Overdrive Interactive. During the course of his career, his work has been recognized with more than 40 awards from NEDMA, including Gold for his blog, Gold for Best Tweets, and Silver for Best Copywriting. Bob likes to keep his fingers on the pulse of the industry in which he earns his livelihood. Not only has he presented many times about social media, copywriting, and direct marketing, he has been published or quoted on his areas of expertise in numerous media outlets. He is a past president of NEDMA and a graduate of Leadership MetroWest's Leadership Academy.
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