In many ways, social media is like the Super Bowl half-time show for brands these days – a national stage, a low audience tolerance for mistakes and a lot of informal rules of etiquette to follow. With all of the time and effort that you put into your company’s social media efforts, you want it to pay off. So how can you avoid being the Left Shark on social media?
The Left Shark may not have intended on upstaging Katy Perry, but that’s exactly what he did during her performance of Teenage Dream. Let’s face it, Teenage Dream isn’t a great song to begin with, (it’s not like Left Shark interrupted Mozart or anything) but no one tuned into the half-time show to see the sharks. The audience was watching to see Katy Perry perform and find out who would be doing the special guest appearance. By dancing along to the beat of his own drum, the audience’s attention and the social media buzz quickly turned to that of the struggling shark. The headlining performers and the other dancers were probably not amused because they had all worked hard to prepare a great show.
In much the same way, social media is about everyone on social media. If a brand enters the scene and tries to steal the spotlight, the rest of the platform’s users are probably not going to take very kindly to that breach of etiquette. This is even more apparent because unlike a half-time stage that may have 40 people vying for attention, there are billions of people on social media all trying to be heard. This is why the single biggest mistake that brands make on social media is over-promoting themselves. Brand managers that commit the cardinal sin of over-promotion bombard followers with self-serving tidbits and end up degrading their brand image by appearing annoying and self-centered.
Tip: Instead of constantly promoting your own brand, take the time to join the conversation and share the spotlight.
2. Standing Around
The Left Shark could have played his half-time foible off a little better if he had kept up the intensity, but at one point he seemed to have gotten tired and just kind of half-heartedly waved his arms around. Viewers compared his efforts to the shark on the right and were instantly able to see where he was falling flat.
As a business owner or marketing manager, you have to understand that your social media efforts will be compared against other brands (specifically competing brands in your industry). Getting into a rut and letting your social media efforts become stale or abandoning them for several weeks or months at a time won’t go unnoticed. Instead of just taking one approach with your social media, vary your efforts to keep followers engaged by offering deals/promotions, industry news, exclusive tips, helpful information, etc. You don’t have to post every hour or even every day, but you do need to be consistent. Brands that abruptly stop posting updates are perceived as unreliable.
Tip: Add ideas for social media updates to a monthly calendar to keep your efforts on track and schedule them, if need be, to stay consistent with your efforts.
3. Being Unprofessional
Left Shark was not a real shark – he was being played by a professional dancer in costume reportedly named Bryan Gaw. (Sorry kids!) Dancing is Left Shark’s profession, and he bit the big one with last night’s performance. (See what I did there? Hopefully that makes up for destroying the shark illusion right before that.) This is why viewers felt justified in critiquing his performance. If an audience member had been suddenly pulled on stage to dance or if it has been a real shark trying to get back to the ocean, we all would have forgiven him. However, when you’re a professional dancer, we expect better.
Similarly, when a brand posts something offensive on social media, as an audience we are outraged because unlike a personal account, where those types of things happen all the time, a professional social media account stands for something larger. We are outraged when brands say or do things on social media that our friends do all the time because the message that it sends is that the company stands behind those actions (and so does the purchasing power of their profits). So in order to avoid having the wrath of the internet brought down upon your company, avoid smaller mistakes like poor grammar and spelling and bigger mistakes like racism, sexism, ageism and the like. The extent of the backlash that you can unleash with a questionable update is not worth the potential benefit if it were to be well received and go viral (because the latter is much less likely than the former).
Tip: Before posting anything to social media from your business account, read through it to make sure that the mechanics are sound and that it will not be perceived as offensive.
Congrats to the Super Bowl 49 winners – the New England Patriots. Here’s to next year! We’ll weigh in on Ad Bowl 2016 afterwards again!
(Image courtesy of Business Insider.)
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!