The Social Media & Corporate Communications Experience

Frequent readers of my (multiple) blogs probably already know that I’ve spent the better part of the year in a post-graduate program. I’ve been reliving and experiencing school for the first time since I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2007 and actually it’s my five-year reunion this spring.

And I have to say, compared to University it’s been an intense experience. Instead of long-winded assignments of varying lengths, from eight to sixteen pages or more, this has been a fast-paced world of assignments on a daily basis, 300 – 400 word limitations of abbreviated and concise writing. Instead of relying only on myself with little to no feedback to peers, this program required more team-work than I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve learned new things about myself and about the material.

Three Things That I’ve learned about Social Media & Corporate Communications

  1. There is no rule book – Things are evolving on a daily basis, a social media site that may be hip and happening one day may be purchased by Twitter or Google on another. (Hello Posterous!) There is no way to be active on every network in an influential capacity, so the best way is to really dig down and recognize your own or your organizations strengths and weaknesses and find the social media that works for YOU. It should be something you enjoy, not something that is a chore.
  2. Understand your audience – A few recent major faux-pas on the social media sphere have been attached to Twitter hashtag fails or ‘bashtags‘ when a corporation (like McDonalds or Rogers) puts out there an ambiguous hashtags to ‘increase engagement’  without actually thinking it through. I think there’s a certain naivete about the medium. Twitter users are a particularly vocal group. Accounts can be as anonymous as you want and I think many communicators live in a PR networking bubble where they think that since all their friends are Stepford-y and peppy, all users are. The reality is that lots of people flock to Twitter to complain. They don’t have an organizational goal to be chipper all the time and sure as heck don’t like patronizing. Compare this with David’s Tea who have great, positive engagement on Twitter by retweeting and responding directly to customers. THEY reward THEIR customers for engagement, they don’t ASK for the customer to reward THEM with engagement.
  3. Apologize, move on and learn – If you screw up, the worst thing you can do is pretend the experience didn’t happen. As you would with any negative interaction, try to learn from it and move forward. Your customers or your followers will appreciate a genuine apology over a deleted post or tweet any day, maintain your own ethics and integrity and this will take you far. But also, don’t pull a McDonald’s and fail at the same thing THREE DIFFERENT TIMES. But, if anything, this tells you that even a disastrous social media campaign still may not make the difference at the end of the day, at least, if you’re as big as McDonalds.

So there we have it, a few things I’ve learned about how organizations and communications teams deal with Twitter. The best tip I have going forward? Think before you tweet.


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  1. The Social Media & Corporate Communications Experience - May 21, 2012

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