Pretend your social audience is a new friend—one you like and respect and one you hope feels the same about you. As with any exciting new friend, you want to engage them, even find ways to be helpful to encourage goodwill. It’s fun. But, because you’re still getting to know her, you don’t yet know how she feels about certain things. So, you tread carefully, exercising healthy curiosity and strong conviction for your own beliefs.
Good social media works very much the same way. Remember, social media is a conversation, not advertising. It’s meant to be organic and flexible, as in any relationship. Yes, relationship. While you don’t necessarily plan to meet your followers for a movie on a random Tuesday, you certainly do hope that they speak well of you to their other friends.
Below are four key relationship don‘ts from social-savvy brands. Follow them, and you’ll be on your way to smarter, more genuine interactions with your friends—er, consumers.
Don’t be afraid of dissent.
Sometimes you don’t agree with a friend. It happens. And sometimes your consumer doesn’t have a great experience with your brand. But understand: Negative reviews and comments aren’t necessarily disaster. Believe it or not, they add legitimacy and give your consumer the confidence that you’re not manipulating the truth. You should never dismiss a concern by wiping out or deleting all negative reviews, comments, or stories. On the contrary, you should use these moments as opportunities to ease pain points, solve problems, and further personalize your relationship by offering help.
This is not to suggest, however, that hateful speech or gratuitous vitriol is to be tolerated. OPI has a strict policy of fair speech and an all-are-welcome attitude. Anyone who threatens or divides this peace is removed—and we stand by this. Our fans respect us for it.
Don’t assume failure if everything you do isn’t appreciated the way you’d hoped.
Some efforts will resonate beautifully with a friend, with tons of appreciation. Likewise, some social content will receive high engagement (lots of likes and shares) while some won’t. It’s OK if every piece of content doesn’t break benchmarks. Depending on your brand, you may have many voices or audiences to reach, and not everyone will love everything you publish.
At OPI, for example, we’re known for being edgy, colorful, surprising, trendsetting. But trends change. Not everybody likes the same trend. So, we’re careful to reflect our brand while also respecting the interests of our fans. Sometimes, our broader content gets universal support while our more targeted content gets less. If the overall commentary is happy and positive, then that’s a win for us.
Don’t underestimate the value of laughter.
Want to be memorable at a party? Tell a really great joke. Be funny, personable, and make people feel good about themselves. Everyone will love you and want to be around you. If you’re smart, you’ll approach social the same way. Oreo is one of my favorite brands to share this philosophy. I always have a smile after engaging with its social content. Plus, it’s effective. I eat a lot of Oreos.
While I wouldn’t suggest replacing your social feed with a comedy routine or looping cat videos (cat videos certainly do make people happy), it’s good fun to be playful with your messaging. Humorous content is easy to share. Fun quotes, silly fan stories, or a comic image that positively involves your brand are all possibilities.
Don’t forget to listen.
This is my biggest piece of advice, in relationships, social, or otherwise. Everyone likes to be heard. And in social media, that means not having the brand constantly do all of the talking by pushing product 24/7. Take the time to read through your fans’ comments. Stay on top of conversations happening in your industry, outside your industry, and that are trending in general. Social is broad, it’s liquid, it’s everywhere. You can draw inspiration from and reflect your fans’ interests much better if you’re listening to all of it (or as much of it as possible).
Real-time marketing is hugely dependent on listening. But not everything has to be that strategic. For example, a well-placed “thank you” after someone’s compliment of your product may not only make that fan’s day, but it may also turn her into a vocal advocate. Do more of it, and be sincere about it.
About the author:
Marleine Pacilio is director of interactive media and advertising for OPI Products. Prior to joining OPI, Marleinemanaged several other high-profile global brands, including Warner Bros., The Walt Disney Company, and Nintendo of America. A self-described digital addict, she has also maintained several design, beauty, and social blogs over the past 10 years.