Cave painting analogy to social media

How Social Media Isn’t Different from Traditional Media

Social media is credited with communications breakthroughs, bringing seemingly instant fame to the previously voiceless and helping brands reach their best customers with targeted messaging. But it is really anything new?

Early man painted stories on cave walls. These large graphics told of their triumphs and dreams. Kind of like Pinterest boards.

After man learned to utilize and control fire, humans sent smoke signals across the horizon to alert each other of their goings on. Just like Twitter.

Can you hear me now?

In more recent centuries, we had the town crier, whose job it was to call out every hour if all was well or if something required attention. Now, we all have that friend on Facebook who updates every little thing as well as the big issues of our days.Colonial men for town crier to social media analogy.

The printing presses of American Colonial days brought us pamphleteers. These narratives are now told on websites, blogs, or in your crazy uncle’s diatribe on Facebook.

During President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, the nation paused to listen to his fireside chats on the radio. Now, we have Trump tweets to alert us to the pulse of the White House. The nation definitely hears him, right?

Of course, we can’t forget the old soap box, upon which people could stand in a town square to make their voices heard. Now, we have video raps by Eminen and some random people you never heard of ranting into their phone cameras in cars.

flaw: current lack of accountability in social media

So, what’s wrong with social media? Currently, there is a gaping void when it comes to accountability. Traditional media, such as newspapers and TV, continue to face accountability. If something is libel or slander, they face lawsuits. The defense against libel and slander is truth. That’s if you end up in court, of course.Old-time radio to refer to fireside chats are akin to Trump tweets.

Propagandists from abroad leveraged the power of Facebook as a far-reaching medium to publish fake news, such as Pizzagate, and there hasn’t been anyone held accountable for that falsity.

As for businesses on social media, they can face harsh backlashes for poorly executed messages, such as the Dove soap ad with a black woman morphing into a white woman. In that case, the company deserved criticism.

Other times, however, social media can fail businesses, such as allowing negative reviews by people who are not verified customers. Before social media, a person could stand on the sidewalk ranting negative things about your business, but it would not have too much effect. Now, a disgruntled ex-employee, crazy customer or unscrupulous competitor can damage a brand.

This is where social media gets a bad rap, and deservedly so.

The false rumors problem can scare people away from social media, for fear their message won’t be believed if conveyed on these platforms. For example, in a recent blog, I related how a water utility was not keeping residents updated during a flooding crisis because it’s leadership considered social media to be a misleading grapevine. In response, its customers suggested at a public meeting that it provide daily and intraday updates during a crisis on its website and then link to those updates with social media.

be part of a better social media landscape

Your customers and prospects are looking for you on social media. Your message can be delivered directly to them, and in large numbers, with targeted social media advertising and content.

Businesses cannot ignore social media. It’s not going away. You’ve got to be in to win it. You don’t need to saturate your social media outlets, but you should consistently and programmatically get your messages out.

What kind of messages? Tell stories about good customer experiences. Paint a picture of how your product or services make life better for your buyers.Cave painting analogy to social media

Pick which social channels to be on. Select the most appropriate handful. Do not try to do it all. Decide which mix of media showcase your stuff best, e.g., blogs, videos, graphics, etc.

Plan your social media content calendar around events, sales campaigns and seasonal specials. Be a part of a larger discussion and share relevant stories by others with your audience with your own thoughts.

Define yourself first, before others try to do it for you. No one can do that better than yourself.

For more information, contact communications consultant Katharine Fraser.

 

Refining Your Business Marketing Message

Define yourself before somebody else does it for you.

If you don’t make it clear in your first impression how your business is differentiated, someone else will be glad to fill in the gap for you and it might not be flattering.

Imagine you are watching someone’s elevator pitch and they are just sputtering. For all you know, they are brilliant at their craft. But it’s not showing.

A friend opened a business and people came streaming in, including another friend. When I asked for her feedback, she was dismissive. Unfairly so, I think. Her beef was that the business owner did not make time for her (did I mention the big crowd?), from which she incorrectly deduced he must not be an expert in his field. Wrong. Surely, had he been able to tell her about his background and approach, she would have appreciated his expertise.

Same goes for digital and print marketing. Be sure that the way you present yourself in these media are how you present yourself in person.

In addition, only present in social media the core focus of your business. For example, if your corporate softball team wins a tournament or participates in a charity game, by all means post a photo of this to the company Facebook page. But leave it off LinkedIn. And, for the love of Pete, do not post party pictures of the softball team at the bar.

stay on point with branding

Just yesterday a major news organization took to Facebook Live with a pie eating contest in honor of National Pi(e) Day (3/14, get it?). As of this writing, it had 107,000 views and 505 comments. The reaction was mixed, with some commenters enjoying the fun and others annoyed that they received a Facebook Live notification for The Washington Post, but the content was not breaking news. Not even close. Or, as one commenter put it: “Yep. The people who send me notifications about the most important, urgent things going on in the world did not need to notify me this was going on. Choose your spots more carefully, WaPo.”

My personal favorite among the comments: “What a wonderful filling to watch these pietiful newspeople get below the crust of the story.” Others wondered if journalism school was worth it.

I myself suggested that this content not be shared with the same audience who most likely followed the Facebook page to get actual news. It may be that the company is trying to be hip or aspiring to go viral with pie eating. Or, as some commenters noted, everyone needs a break, especially in Washington these days. Still, some comments derided this as fiddling while Rome burns. Remember, this is the paper that broke Watergate. Maybe younger folks don’t identify it that way. One commenter said the contest was fun and better than the political [expletive]. Why, may I ask is she looking at a political newspaper?

In fact, my comment drew derision from a man with a spelling problem. Or, a man who likes to ironically misspell. My comment: “Why or how is this relevant to maintaining quality journalism and protecting democracy? Sorry to be a crank, but you probably should have left this as an internal team building event.” Again, like the others negative commenters, I dropped what I was doing to check on what I thought was news with a Facebook Live event breaking through.

“Wow. From someone who blogs about repurposed grits. Get a sense of hermour,” my derider wrote.

Grits? That’s right, I have a lifestyle blog about cooking, the great outdoors and reclaiming quality time. But “The Sage Leopard” is a separate website from Adroit Narratives, LLC. See what I’m getting at here? If I have a client who say, practices law or builds houses, I would never recommend they post about their personal hobbies on their business websites and social media accounts. My response to snarky misspelling man:

“That’s a lifestyle blog for fun. My other webpage is about business communications. Sorry, I used to do news and now I consult clients on digital marketing. This is not something I’d recommend for someone wanting to maintain seriousness in their business profile. And I used to be a grouchy news desk editor so I know about news room shenanigans. It doesn’t really belong in the same outlet as your primary business.”

Again, whatever you are selling, do not go off on a random tangent in that brand’s space. Are you selling pies from a bakery? Then, do not post about politics on your bakery website and bakery social media accounts.

Always stay consistent in your business profile and messaging.

For more information on business marketing and communications, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.