By Justin Goldsborough | November 30, 2010
Donna and Dylan. Dawson and Joey. Meredith and McSteamboaty — you know, the dude from Can’t Buy me Love. What do they all have in common? Besides making for some really poor yet really awesome TV shows over the past few years? They all had relationships that failed at one time or another because of lack of communication. And because it was in the script. But stick with me on the S.S. Analogy for a second here.
Relationships fail all the time because people don’t listen and don’t talk to each other. And when they do, they don’t really say what’s on their mind. They say what they think they want to hear. Or worse, what they think they need to say. And when they say it, they know it’s a bunch of crap. But they say it anyway. Why else would Dylan tell Brenda he didn’t care if she went to Paris?
The majority of companies that are struggling to foster engagement via social media these days aren’t really talking to their consumers. They’re talking at them. There’s a big difference. As PR/Marketing pros, we’re taught to think in key messages. We’re taught to write key messages for clients. And even in today’s social media world there is value in those key messages. Except when we decide to bring them into our social networks. Because here’s a hint I feel like I’ve shared 1,000 times but can’t say enough — people do not talk in key messages.
Remember that bunch of crap we talked about earlier? You know, like the line Joey gave Dawson when she really wanted to be with Pacey (you are either very impressed or shaking your head at my knowledge of pop culture TV at this point ). When brands post key messages — broadcast marketing messages — via social networks, your consumers see it as a bunch of crap. People don’t comment on crap, they don’t like crap and they definitely don’t share crap. So all kidding aside, it’s really important not to just fire off a Facebook post or tweet so you can cross it off your checklist. Think about what you are saying and how you’d react as a consumer.
There was a great article in Ad Age this week about how random, off-topic posts can be the best route for brands when they’re looking to build relationships. My favorite example from that story was when Blackberry shared a Facebook post on May 4, National Star Wars Day. The post read simply: “May the 4th be with you.” Brian Wallace, BB VP-Global Digital recalled being asked why his company would share that type of a an off-topic post on Facebook.
His answer: “My response was that this post reached over 150,000 people, 98 percent of the posts were positive, most tweets made a positive association with our brand, and it drove a 15 percent increase in our followers. Now what’s the value of all that to our company?”
True, one post or comment doesn’t make or break a relationship. But the Star Wars post by Blackberry shows that they understand a couple of things the majority of companies are having a hard time getting through their heads:
- We can create a positive association between a brand and its consumers without ever talking about the organization or its products.
- When people are on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, they are looking for a social interaction. What they are not looking for is a to be marketed to with key messages.
The flip side of the relationship building coin is that it isn’t easy. You don’t change a company’s PR and Marketing culture overnight. It takes patience, education and some trial by fire. So don’t try to do everything all at once. But do try infusing some real conversation into your social network posts. Really listen to people and provide them a chance to talk to others through conversations started by your brand. And don’t just post key message crap to check it off your list. That doesn’t help anybody.
I’d love to end with an obscure reference to a Grey’s Anatomy episode, but sadly, I don’t really watch the show that much. I know, shame on me. Maybe I should start. Might give me something to suggest our clients post about on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.