Where’s the beef on social media?
In 1984, an 81-year-old woman by the name of Clara Peller starred in an incredibly popular advertising campaign for Wendy’s, in which she demanded to know “Where’s the beef?” at a make-believe fast-food restaurant.
The question went viral, becoming a commonly used catchphrase whenever anyone was looking for more of pretty much anything.
Well, the same question Clara Peller had about hamburgers back in the day is the question I have now for brands, businesses, marketers, anyone and everyone who uses social media for professional reasons.
Where’s the beef?
Not to be a curmudgeon, but I have to say that far too many of you are mailing it in when it comes to publishing and sharing content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels.
This is not a dress rehearsal, after all. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. What do you think your audience of followers, fans and friends on social media thinks when you don’t care enough to engage with them, ask questions of them, respond to them, or share anything even remotely firsthand and personal about yourself with them?
This is not the time to sit on your high horse or seclude yourselves in your ivory towers while your social media activities are running on automatic pilot. While it’s important to have a steady, unrelenting cadence of content to share and disseminate, you also need to be creative, impromptu, resourceful, authentic and strategic in how you communicate with others on social media.
You don’t want there to be an outcry for more beef. You want your audience to get more than a small taste of who the people are behind your brand and what makes them tick. More importantly, you want them to know that you’re actually interested in their success and wellbeing, not just your own internet fame.
Along with some excellent examples you can study and learn from, here are 10 ways to beef up your social media program…
1. Don’t be shy
Chalking up any lack of personality to a brand’s desire for privacy simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Audiences expect – and deserve – more than the equivalent of talking heads. Give them everything you got. The more you put out there, the more you’ll get in return. Leave it all on the social media floor.
Example: Gary Vaynerchuk on Facebook
2. Take pictures
Words alone aren’t enough to succeed on social media. Even if you have the best writing chops in the business, you need to accentuate your content with a variety of visuals.
Stock photos are just the beginning. Custom, candid images you take yourself should be a critical component of your social media stream, not to mention video clips, GIFs, animations, illustrations, infographics, you name it. A picture of any kind is worth a thousand words.
As a copywriter, I hate to admit this, but even the best written content can’t always capture the right tone of voice. Personality, mood context – none of that’s easy to get across in words alone. Pictures of whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, are more realistic, intimate and explanatory. Video is even better.
Example: Jimmy John’s on Twitter
Give me my sandwich pic.twitter.com/GhdYwp8z0e
— Jimmy John’s (@jimmyjohns) June 13, 2016
3. Seize the moment
What’s the one quality of social media that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other marketing channel? Instantaneousness. Unless you have a way to get on TV or the radio live, there is no easier way to involve an audience instantaneously than Twitter, Facebook and the like.
Coincidentally, communicating in real time is also the best way to attract attention and spark engagement on social media. Anything happening now trumps everything else that is either scheduled, contrived, or both. Capitalize on any opportunity that arises to socialize on the spur of the moment.
Example: Patriot Place on Twitter
4. Don’t be selfish
Stop talking so much about yourself and start sharing other people’s content. Give attention to your customers, clients, prospects and followers.
Everyone you respect and admire deserves the spotlight. Anyone you want to engage with in any way, shape or form should be on the receiving end of your praise and idolatry, not the other way around.
Think quid pro quo. The more you give, the more you’ll get in return over time.
— Boston Children's (@helpkids) June 13, 2016
5. Lighten up
Playing office and acting like a big shot on social media will get you nowhere fast. Authority counts, of course, but arrogance will hurt any chances you have of building a big, loyal following.
Laugh and the whole internet won’t necessarily laugh with you, but you’ll be much more likable if you don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile and enjoy yourself. The cheerful side of your brand is what your audience wants to see.
Example: iRobot on Instagram
6. Inspire your audience
Arouse emotion in your audience one way or another. Get them pumped, jacked and all fired up. The last thing you want them to be is listless and lethargic.
You want to prompt them to take some form of action, whether it’s having a conversation with you or simply liking what you have to say. Raise up your followers, fans and friends to the point where they become believers in your brand.
Example: Dr. Martens on Twitter
— Dr. Martens (@drmartens) June 5, 2016
7. Tag other people and things
Don’t do what far too many businesses and brands do. Don’t forget the social in social media. This isn’t advertising, marketing, public relations, publishing or customer service.
This is ALL of the above and a huge departure for those who have been beholden to traditional communications strategies and tactics up until now. Address others by handles and names. They’ll thank you for it, remember you for it and maybe even do business with you.
Example: Boston Scientific on Twitter
— Boston Scientific (@bostonsci) June 10, 2016
8. Listen carefully
If you’re not doing as much listening as talking on social media, you’re not doing it right. Go online often simply to monitor what other people are saying.
Listen and learn from your customers and competitors. Don’t hem and haw, but don’t just say the first thing that comes to mind, either.
Gain a good understanding of what your constituents expect to hear from you before you join the conversation.
Example: Crocs Shoes on Twitter
— Crocs Shoes (@Crocs) May 2, 2016
9. Offer to help
Be generous with your time, talent and resources, not stingy. The golden rule is the most important rule on social media. Offer your assistance to people, whether they’re asking for it or not, and your big-heartedness won’t be forgotten.
Leave the cold, corporate-speak at the office along with any bottom-line thinking. This isn’t the time or place to worry about overextending yourself or your team.
The greater your sensitivity, empathy, kindness and consideration online, the greater your ROI.
Example: United Healthcare on Twitter
Have a question? We're here to help. Tweet @AskUHC to reach our Customer Care team. We're online M-F 8am – 5pm CT.
— UnitedHealthcare (@myUHC) March 30, 2015
10. Avoid negativity
To underscore that last point, let’s just say that unless your name is Donald Trump, you should always take the high road. Seriously. No one likes a whiner.
Dissing this, that and the other thing may get the attention of customer service, but it will turn off everyone else.
Compliments, kudos, shout-outs, plugs and props work best on social media, not criticism and complaints.
Example: ATTN: on Instagram
A photo posted by ATTN: (@attndotcom) on
Online reputation is important for every business and social media has escalated this need. How can you filter the noise to maintain ... read more
While ad fraud has become part of every marketer’s vocabulary, attribution fraud—the practice of gaming outdated attribution models to justify self-serving means—has ... read more
On Monday, Netflix reported that it added 370,000 new subscribers in the U.S. in the third quarter, 20% more than the 300,000 it ... read more
Snapchat Discover has been a hit with publishers that want access to the popular messaging app’s highly-desirable audience, and some reports even ... read more