My mother is not a big social media user. In fact, I’m fairly certain that her internet use is confined to occasionally entering sweepstakes and spying on my sister through Facebook. But what she lacks in social media savvy she more than makes up for with homespun commonsense wisdom that can often go forgotten in our increasingly loud, complicated and fast paced digital world.
1) Kill them with kindness
Growing up I heard this almost everyday (and mostly disregarded it) but now that I’m running blogs, Facebook pages and twitter accounts for different clients, I really see how valuable this advice is. When I started an innocent Facebook page for an engineering group, I was shocked at the vitriol and mean spirited comments the page received from those who had nothing to do with the organization. The reality is the internet is largely anonymous, so people feel comfortable being meaner than they would in a face-to-face interaction. Now, you can try firing back with a biting remark, but honestly, it won’t be nearly as effective as just being nice. You aren’t making your blog, Facebook page, Twitterfeed, etc for the bullies out there. So, as much as it pains you to do so, simply respond kindly with something like “I’m sorry you feel that way. We here at X organization believe that this information is important to our members and the community.”
2) Don’t be a Dumb Bunny
I think this one is a my mom original since I have never heard anyone else say it. My mother raised her daughters with a healthy and appropriate skepticism of just about everything. A dumb bunny is someone who falls for anything. Now for a 16 year old girl that has a completely different meaning than it does for an organization working on its Facebook page, but the principle is largely the same. There are a lot of scams out there and you can be certain that if you have an online presence, someone will try to take advantage of it. Google is your best friend in this situation. If you get an e-mail from someone offering your organization all sorts of new opportunities, or if someone posts something that doesn’t sit well on your Facebook page, just Google it followed by the word “scam.” Odds are…if it’s fishy, someone will already have been burned.
3) Never Embellish
This is overwhelmingly common sense but you would be surprised how tempting it can be. It’s hard to get people excited about a new blog or page, and sometimes it’s tempting to embellish on a story a little.
“The event was attended by thousands”
“Hundreds of people just like you are signing up...”
These may seem like harmless attention getters and 9 times out of 10 no one will call you on them. But ouch…that 10th time…it’s a killer.
4) Keep it Simple
Growing up I had a flare for the dramatic. I’m sure by now you have gathered that brevity is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. However, short and simple is priceless in the world of social media. When we sign into Facebook, we are inundated with information. Newsfeeds full of photos, quotes, and updates have made our digital attention spans shrink dramatically. Your audience wants the info they need in quick, fun, and direct bursts.
5) Have your own style
Have you seen the wildly successful Old Spice commercials? They went viral months ago and still have us laughing. Well, since then there have been several copycats. Dairy Queen features a guy blowing bubbles with kittens in them while Edge Shave Gel shows a guy moving from room to room and situation to situation just like our favorite Old Spice guy. Not cool. There is a lot of pressure to come up with the next big thing and when something goes viral its tempting to try to capitalize on that success. Not everyone in your association will notice if you copy an idea, but a couple will and nothing stinks quite like unoriginality.