Social media is a funny thing – sometimes it brings us the news, sometimes it is the subject of the news. It manages to find itself part of both the hottest scandals and the most wholesome movements. Yet as a social media marketer, I believe that the most important thing happening today is an unrivaled focus on truth and transparency.
The necessity to be truthful not only applies to celebrities, public figures and influencers, it’s also extremely relevant for businesses as they use the Big 4 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) to increase brand awareness and audience engagement. People are paying attention to the details now. That includes your customers. Here’s what you need to know.
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. – Buddha
TRENDING NOW: A NEW WAVE OF ACCURACY
With over 3 billion people on Facebook alone, it’s easy to see the impact social content can have. Accuracy can benefit the public, and false information can misdirect it.
Right now, there is a big movement across the top social media platforms to ensure that content, whether from a person or an organization, is as accurate as possible when trying to relay a message. Each one has approached tagging misleading information or content in their own way. Some, as you may have seen, have been top stories in the news cycle. The updates most pertinent to businesses, however, are these:
- Facebook has cracked down on a large number of advertisements that could lead to misleading information or questionable behavior.
- Twitter has announced they are adding a notice on retweets when users haven’t opened the link.
- The Top 4 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) alongside Snapchat, Reddit and TikTok have all issued statements on misinformation with the goals to make their platforms tools for concise information.
Yet the search for truth goes beyond the powers that be. There has been a long history of customers calling out their brands in the public forum of social media. Whether they have a problem with product quality or an issue with a brand’s message, customers aren’t afraid to use their voice online. It has broken barriers and red tape, allowing customers to have a direct line to a brand as if it was just another social media user. Look at social media as a two-way channel of communication between you and your customers. It’s marketing, advertising, customer support and public relations all rolled into one tool.
TRENDING ALWAYS: A BUSINESS APPROACH TO COMMUNICATION
In my years of working in the social media marketing space, I have seen brands reach levels of public awareness that would have been near impossible otherwise. I have also seen the consequences brands who broadcast factually ambiguous information suffer from, and this was way before the Big 4 started doing something about it.
It’s a social media marketer’s responsibility to the brand and its customers to deliver truthful information.
How do we do this? Stay focused on developing and delivering material that, while may be sales-oriented and promotional, does not cross the threshold of over-the-top claims. The best way to go about this is to ensure your social media team is in-sync and communicating with the other departments of your organization. Whether you are selling homes or hats, you need to speak with your team, learn about the REAL benefits, the features, the limitations and everything in between.
If today’s digital age has thought us anything, it’s that words have real power. That’s why you should develop a master copy document and nurture your brand’s inventory of approved vocabulary, phrases and fact-checked statements. Not only will this prove to be form of consistency throughout your messaging, but it will allow you to be sure the points you are stressing are based in reality.
Only one part of social media marketing is content creation. The other part is managing and engaging with your audience. Part of this is sharing other content posted by other accounts that are in your space. However, be sure to open any links, actually read the content and be sure it’s something that aligns with your brand’s values. I have seen first-hand brands who glossed over an article and then shared it on their social media without knowing that it was written by an unreliable source OR it pushed a competitor’s product. Either way, it’s a losing situation.
This is more of a basic business ethic to adhere to, but when your customers reach out to you, try to respond within 24 hours, be professional (unless you’re Wendy’s) and offer real facts and solutions.
Finally, when you venture into the world of paid social media advertisements, it’s more important than ever to base all language on facts. Refrain from using overly promotional language, monetary values or extraordinary claims. Not only will these ads reach more eyes than ever, but it will be on the admins’ radar.
TRENDING IN THE FUTURE: YOUR TRUTH-BASED SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION PLAN
Just like social media, it boils down to short, simple statements. Here are the most important steps to take when trying to be as transparent and truthful as possible on social media.
- Fact-check everything before the world sees it.
- Refrain from any and all claims that could be seen as fabricated.
- Start using repeatable, proven language.
- Never share any content without thoroughly reviewing it.
- Be quick, real and professional with your customers when communicating.
- Avoid using overly promotional language in paid advertising.
We can all think of examples of how NOT to use social media (someone whose last name rhymes with Rump may come to mind ???? ), but the truth is, if you have your audience’s best interests in mind, and approach communications as ethically as possible, you should be no problems.
A lot of businesses allocate social media to an intern, or whatever employee has a little time on their hand. Worst of all, we have seen many organizations look at whoever is good at personal social media, automatically thinking those skills will translate to the business side. The truth is, strategy, expertise and a whole lot of planning is needed to deliver a successful social media marketing campaign. It should be taken as seriously as the other avenues of marketing, especially since 77% of social media users discover new brands to consider while browsing. In this ever-important, ever-shifting age, it’s more important than ever to have a thoughtful plan.
Let’s chat about your company’s social media! I would love for the chance to offer better ways to engage with your audience