Having spent the last several years of my career working for marketing technology vendors, I’ve been able to watch the evolution of corporate social media use from the front row. My employers have always encouraged me to stay current on digital trends, so I have paid a great deal of attention to other firms’ social media efforts. I’ve watched firms like UnderArmour, Dollar Shave Club, and even The ALS Association embrace social media to maximize brand awareness and establish themselves as social leaders. At the same time, I’ve witnessed some painful social flops (DiGiorno Pizza, I’m looking at you). Here’s what I’ve learned about social media so far:
- Don’t let the intern manage your social strategy.
- As the former intern, I’ll be the first to admit that this is a terrible idea. It’s only natural to assume that the undergraduate on the team is the most in-touch with new trends and how to harness the power of emerging social platforms. However, your intern may not fully understand your firm’s brand strategy, competitive landscape, or partner ecosystem, particularly in B2B companies. Interns and entry-level employees can be valuable assets in managing day-to-day social activity, but management should define and implement a broader strategy to ensure consistent messaging across channels.
- Keep your personal and corporate social accounts separate.
- We’ve all seen it. Someone thinks they’re logged into a personal account, tweets, and before they’ve realized it, thousands of their company’s Twitter followers have seen their mistake. While this may sound like the simplest of my recommendations, it is one of the most difficult in practice. Employees with access to corporate social accounts must absolutely find a way to manage the separation between work and personal personas. I have found it helpful to use different devices, browsers, and social management tools (Hootsuite, CoTweet, etc.) for different accounts. For instance, at my last job, I only tweeted for work from my company cell phone or laptop, and I only sent personal tweets from my own devices. This is easier said than done, especially if a company is less generous with corporate cell phones, but social media managers need to find practical methods to prevent errors. At the end of the day, proofreading also goes a long way.
- Understand trending topics.
- As we saw with DiGiorno infamously trying to latch onto the #WhyIStayed hashtag (which was intended for victims of domestic violence), it is crucial for marketers to understand what trending topics mean before harnessing them for more visibility. As a general rule, if you don’t understand what a hashtag means, do more research. If you still don’t have a clear picture after digging deeper, perhaps this isn’t the right hashtag for you to use. Even if you fully understand a trending topic, think twice about whether your message fits the topic. Many popular hashtags are politically- or emotionally-charged, and you risk offending target customers with your tweets. Ultimately, if you’re unsure whether your next tweet is a smart move, ask around your office as a sanity check or save the tweet for another time.
This semester, I want to focus on preparing for the next stage of my career. As I work toward a management role, I want to gain the skills necessary to develop a comprehensive social media strategy that contributes to brand success across both online and offline channels. I want to ultimately lead a success story like those mentioned above, so understanding the strategy and culture elements required for social media innovation will be crucial. In this course, I am most excited to watch presentations from my peers in order to understand what other students feel are the most important discussion topics for social media managers today.
What advice do you have for me as I enter this next phase of my career?