A: “Ignore it.”
And that’s what most corporations (and small businesses) did in 2009 and 2010. They ignored social media, or they barely paid lip service to it. Business tried to co-opt social media and failed miserably. Businesses tried to ignore social media and it didn’t go away. It turned around and bit them in the…well you know.
They made many of the same “penny wise, pound foolish” mistakes with Social Media that businesses make with PR.
If you ignore the media, they won’t go away. Well, if you ignore the people (the social media) they won’t go away either. Better to act than react.
1. Outsource your social media monitoring and blogging to India. (Watch the TV show “Outsourced” for some hilarious examples of why the culture of India might not relate to your purely American brand they’ve never used before.)
2. Equating something new with “young” and take a misguided trendy approach to social media hiring. (“He has a shaggy haircut like Chad Hurley and cool eyeglass frames! That must mean he knows something about social media and our target Gen Y audience!”) While sometimes you can luck out and get a very sharp intern who will do your social media for free (for a while) why would you trust your most visible communications to someone who doesn’t even sit at a desk inside your company?
3. Assuming that the audience for Social Media is Gen Y. (The average age of a Facebook user is Gen X, 38, with half the users firmly in the Baby Boom Generation.)
4. Pay a fortune for boring, self serving fake “user generated” videos that never went “viral” on You Tube. (The Hollywood film “2012” with it’s fake user news coverage on You Tube was particularly transparent.)
5. Build a visually tricked out Fan page that nobody ever “likes” and then spam Twitter with advertisements, contests and coupons.
6. Tweet or post as an impersonal logo or “the brand”, instead of an engaging personality. (Do I really want to be a Fan of Victoria’s Secret Corp.? No. But I might want to be friends with a Victoria’s Secret Super Model.) Do I want to be a Twitter friend with a fertilizer company? No. But I might want to get Tweets from a funky, clever cartoon cow who talks about composting and gives me organic gardening tips. Do you really want to be friends with GE? But you might want to learn more or ask questions about about a specific GE product you own.
7. Tweet or post positive comments as a fake employee or fake customer. This can be a good tactic if you hire someone outside the company to do the posting. A little positive news can help turn a negative tide around. Just don’t post from a computer that can be traced to an email address or ID inside your company!
8. Lump Social Media in with SEO/SEM and online marketing. Search Engine Optimization, (SEO) is about generating hits to your website in Google. SEO has absolutely nothing to do with managing your company’s brand reputation or responding to media inquiries when a problem suddenly goes viral. This is why so much early Social Media seemed as intrusive and spammy as a direct mail campaign. And why so many social campaigns were ignored until they erupted into viral PR disasters.