Don’t let up on your disgust with ads just because the election is over. Smoke and mirrors, misdirection and just plain lies abound in our day-to-day marketing.
The inability of advertisers to make coherent arguments to sell their product have made social media and authenticity buzzwords. At least on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn there’s a dab of accountability. Refer the wrong plumber to your pals, and you might get kicked out of the Thursday night poker.
Like political ads, most consumer advertising either says nothing, contorts the truth, or smacks of hyperbole. In a recent commercial, a luxury car deemed itself “The World Standard.” The world standard for what? Does this include the 47 countries in the world that have no knowledge of the brand? And we’re not singling out cars, you can find the same level of pap in ads for everything from hotdogs and laundry detergents to investment bankers and hospitals. Hot air like this is exactly what gets brands in trouble on social media. Like reading on Facebook that your pal’s “World Standard” is leaking transmission fluid like a flop house toilet.
Keeping it Clean and Honest in Print and Social Media
It’s not surprising then that some brands, steeped in conventional ad pap for decades, have problems embracing the newfangled authenticity. In reality, you can easily skip over this minefield if you remember two things: 1) Tell the truth. 2) Remember what you were taught about writing in the fifth grade. If you need a refresher course, pick up a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.
The truth and not telling it, or partially telling it will dog your brand forever on the Internet. When you believe something, you have a reason for believing even if it’s just pure faith. Make sure that your company’s marketing claims are backed by reasons and facts. Maybe you can’t squeeze it all in a Tweet, but you can expand on it on the web and in other media.
In web writing, avoid empty hyperbole like the plague. Don’t claim that you’re the world’s best, finest, or only unless you can prove it. If you’re touting “Drive = Love,” like Chrysler, you better have a Viagra dispenser under the dash.
Weasel words are the second cousins of hyperbole. They give the brand wiggle room, usually for legal reasons, and dilute the claim, e.g. arguably the safest car in America. Anytime you see an adjective or an adverb with an “ly” construction, you’ve got a stinker. Words like about, sometimes, most are also good signs a brand is hedging its bets.
So instead of sounding like an ad from a political action committee, stay true to your brand. Stick to declamatory sentences. Start with a topic sentence. Make it believable. And back your claims up with tangible reasons to buy, or to prefer your product or service to a competitor.
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Typos. Every writer’s bane. Except on social media, where minor bloopers can sometimes help you.
Here’s when it’s OK to misfire.
- Brush aside a minor typo. A missing space or errant apostrophe won’t kill your credibility, but it will show that drones don’t manage your account.
- Deleting a tweet hurts more. Trigger-happy folks may have already commented on your post or re-tweeted it. Removing it because of a tiny mistake could cost you vital interaction – the reason you use social media.
- Leverage a mistake. Someone will almost always call you out. Make it positive, like “whoops, too much caffeine for us. Have a great weekend!”
But some errors can’t be ignored.
- Major FUBARs. Client names and company names. Don’t mess them up. And if you do, fix them before it’s too late.
- Omitting crucial words or letters. It only takes one keystroke to change the meaning of your sentence. See the difference between “public” and “pubic.”
- Consistent errors. Everyone makes typos. But don’t make them a habit. One mishap won’t murder your social cred, but a pile of them will tarnish your rep.
If I hear “interruption marketing is dead” one more time, I will scream and blow up my car. Maybe then I’ll have their attention.
“The battlefield is relevance. Talk directly to me, or I’m not listening.”
“Interruption marketing” triggers a “something is different alarm, check it out” reflex that has wiring deep inside our reptile brain we inherited from dinosaurs. So, the same neurons that helped Bambi elude a T-Rex are the same ones that keep you glued to the TV to watch an ad with hamsters driving cars.
Our social behavior, technology and use of media are changing at warp speed, but the wiring that makes us pay attention to it has not.
Whenever a marketer posts on social media, engages prospect in a conversation through an app or an email, we have a singular goal. That’s to create content that will divert the prospect’s attention from Angry Birds to your brand.
The difference is we don’t have to shout like we did when speaking to big demographic swaths through old-time TV networks, radio and newspapers. Now, because we have the ability to target and converse with micro segments, the battlefield has switched to relevance. Talk directly to me, or I’m not listening. But make no mistake about it, our goal is to interrupt and divert the attention of our friends, followers or fans to our message du jour. So impact and retention still depends on a gleaming attention-getting content, whether it’s a 140 character Tweet, or a viral video about your exploits in Vegas.
“The media is the message,” but it’s a hollow tube unless there’s something of meaning inside it.
These days, everyone from celebrities to big-name CEOs sets Twitter ablaze with personal meltdowns. So, what do you do if one of them is your client or disgruntled employee? It’s important to be prepared. Try these tips for handling a social-media crisis:
- Assess the situation and respond accordingly. No two scenarios are alike, so gather the facts (like making sure the person is OK) and decide the best course of action. If your client Tweets a drunken rant, it’s probably best to delete the post and issue an apology. If your fired co-worker wages e-war, it might be best to post a public statement explaining the situation.
- Educate your audience. If a disgruntled employee is falsely defaming your company, post a statement with the facts. But make sure you investigate and find out if there’s more to the story from the employee’s side.
- Don’t engage in a public feud. The worst thing you can do is throw down the gauntlet and battle on Facebook or Twitter. Instead of disputing any claims, you’ll open your brand to a public spanking.
- Time heals. Sometimes, the best remedy is to ride out the storm. Liz Vogel, Ideopia’s director of public relations, said, “Sometimes, just be happy you didn’t make it worse.” She’s right. You can’t always fix it, but you can control if you fuel or extinguish the flames.
As social media continues to grow in popularity, so will e-meltdowns. So be prepared. Looking for more defense? Check out our video on crisis management.
Who owns your Twitter or Facebook followers? Are you sure?
Tweeting on behalf of an employer or trolling for new business through LinkedIn could get your accounts snatched. Two companies are suing former employees over the issue. Both cases are still winding through the halls of justice.
At stake is who really owns a personal Twitter or LinkedIn account, when it’s used to rustle up new business or spew company talking points.
Mobile phone site Phonedog.com says a former employee’s 17,000 Twitter followers are actually a customer list. Training company Edcomm tried to argue that its employee’s LinkedIn account was a trade secret—even though she had the account prior to working there.
“Watch out for sour grapes,” isn’t the only moral of this story. Employers beware: when people move on, their social media accounts may too. Working stiffs need to be cautious as well. When you change jobs, you might not be able to take your Twitter friends with you. Keep an eye on the courts!
By now, it’s well known that social media content is important for optimizing your company’s rank on search results. Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines incorporate social media content as an important factor in their algorithms. We see the social media effect everyday through web analytics. It really hit us when we did a search for the term “Ideopia.” (I think we do that every 20 minutes!)
Note that 8 out of top 10 results are from social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. And these results are being incorporated fast, e.g. the Twitter post on phobias was posted just 28 minutes ago. Food for thought!
KosherHam.com is an irreverent, in-your-face online t-shirt company that drives its
business through social marketing and its vibrant online fan base.
Jeremy Bloom, president of Kosher Ham, explains how it works in 140
character responses in our first Twitterview.
@Ideopia: Question #1 What’s a “kosher” ham?
@KosherHam: 1)”kosher” ham…first and foremost -1) the bacon that’s been blessed.
2) the pinnacle of all oxymorons. 3) funny Jews. 4) Funny
t-shirt/clothing company featuring pop-culture and Jewish humor
@Ideopia: How do you use Twitter in your marketing?
We find people that are interested in the same themes/topics and then
send ‘em an @reply (or a poke – Facebook terms) to get attention
Twitter is great for additional branding, seo/sem, finding potential
customers/fans, and networking w/ marketing & t-shirt geeks
@KosherHam: We also promote coupon codes exclusive to Twitter followers. We like Facebook more. 140 characters is too short sometimes.
@Ideopia: What is your all-time best selling t-shirt?
crowd-pleasers: Rick Astley Pie-chart, Barack’n tee (’09 sales r
sleepy), 30-Rock & the Golden Girls “ultimate conquest” themed-tee.
@KosherHam: Our/my favorite – Kosher Ham logo tees. It gives me warm-fuzzies when people buy the logo tee across the country.
Read more at KosherHam.com and see the KosherHam’s Spring Collection.
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