If you’re trying to do something professional with social media, the first thing you must realize is that your interactions involve humans, not cold technology. You should consider your audience is humans with interests in very human activities. Considering the audience means acknowledging different platforms have different audiences and often call for different messages. Sometimes there are posts that cross over, but you wouldn’t take a flyer and smash it up on a website and not also include real content (I hope!), the same way you wouldn’t take a letter to students and mash it into a Facebook post (I hope). But one of the worst examples of social media laziness — a worker deciding their own sweet time is more important than their readers — remains automatically pumping the same messages via Facebook and Twitter.
@unmarketing summed this up well with his tweet (above): “Nothing says you’ve given up caring about Twitter than auto-feeding cut-off Facebook updates in your feed.” Around that same time, my pal @inch_gladdy expressed a similar sentiment: “If your tweet starts with ‘To our Facebook friends …’ you’re doing it wrong.” Yet it amazes me how many people still blast Facebook tweets that are cut-off mid-sentence and not realize that it basically says: “I really don’t care about my Twitter followers. I don’t have the time or desire to craft messages specifically for them.” Let’s face it, your Twitter followers are smart enough to see that for what it is.
But there are other ways organizations fall short of being human and establishing real connections. Related thoughts:
If you’re using just logos and clip art in social media, seek help. I was invited to Like a page for another entity on campus, but visiting was anything but a likeworthy experience. With the new Facebook Timeline offering an opportunity for a banner head that could clearly and cleverly illustrate what you’re about, this page used … a giant, cut-off logo. Posts were brief marketing pieces using clip art as illustrations. No. Just no. While it’s not always easy to use people as profile pics or Timeline banners in the Facebook communities I run, I sure as heck try to make something relatable — whether it’s a special event, popular pastime or action shot. No one connects with or learns a lot about you from a logo, ever. Clip art inspires nobody. As to messaging, that brings us to …
Speak like a human. That’s who you’re communicating to. So often I see Twitter accounts or Facebook pages with messages that look like they were assembled by a marketing phrase generator. “We offer several programs that incorporate interdisciplinary concepts and best-practice pedagogy” is a horrible Twitter update. No (interesting) human speaks that way. Slapping events with “WHAT:” “WHERE:” “WHEN:” preceding copy on a Facebook page is lazy and disrespectful of the medium. If you want to communicate professionally, social media offers a great opportunity to craft concise, compelling and clever — yet conversational — copy. If you find yourself posting something on a Facebook page or Twitter account in phrasing you’d never dream of using communicating to a friend, take a step back and rework your message … to sound like a human.