Bryan Kramer

Posted on August 14, 2012 by Bryan Kramer 0

5 Ways to Stifle Your Company’s Social Presence

It’s in our DNA to try to control things we don’t understand. Ask any married couple.

This is especially apparent in the space where social media and companies coincide—businesses are still grappling with what to do and how to control their presence in social networks. On one hand, social media opens up a new world where brands are able to engage with and understand consumers like never before. And consumers get to see a company’s human side.

On the other, social media makes many companies feel vulnerable. All of the sudden, it feels like the consumers are in control—that they’re influencing brand perception even more than you are.

Crumpled stop sign image

This is largely a myth, of course. The truth is, most marketing departments are firmly in control of their brand. Yes, consumers do have a voice and platform from which to be heard now. But they don’t control your brand. However, social media still makes many companies nervous. And that’s unfortunate, because fear continues to hold many back.

Our tendency is to slow down progress as we ponder these questions and try to control the release of information. If your fear of social media has to do with your concern about employee productivity, I can tell you this—take away social media and you can rest assured that your employees will find another reason not to get their work done.I’ve never known a company want to hold back from growth, and yet there is this dilemma:I want my brand to have a social media presence, but who do I trust to manage that? And how much should we share, if it all? And for the love of Facebook, should I even let my employees post, tweet and pin during work hours? Where does social media as a marketing tool and social networking as a personal pastime begin and end?

If your concern is more about making your brand vulnerable, then maybe you need to loosen up and trust the work you’ve put into establishing your brand—it wasn’t built in a day, right? It’s not going to topple because of a hiccup on Yelp.

Of course, you can stifle your social media presence if you want to. Here’s how.

1) Avoid a governance model. Basically a governance model is a set of policies, guidelines and processes that defines and dictates how each department in a company relates to social media. The governance model is becoming more prevalent because it allows everyone in the company to own a piece of the social media pie—it “governs” what people may say, how to say it and where to say it. It’s important because it tells everyone in your organization exactly what’s expected. No governance model = social media confusion, organization-wide. That’s a great way to stifle your company’s social networking skills.

2) Don’t be transparent. Want to kill your brand in the social media space? Don’t be real. Don’t be human. Get all corporate and promotional and make every status or tweet sound like a sales pitch. People will write you off in a heartbeat. Authenticity in social media draws in consumers like flies to honey and makes them appreciate the humanity behind the organization—people do business with people, not corporations. Hiding behind your corporate mask will stifle that relationship real fast. 

3) Don’t be fun. You’ve probably heard a lot about gamification lately and how it engages consumers and can create some awesome brand ambassadors for your company. Gamification works because it satisfies some of the most basic human desires—recognition and reward, status, achievement, competition and collaboration. And it’s fun. Social media, at its heart, should be fun—it’s where people go to connect with friends, family and the brands they love. Want to ruin the mood? Be too serious. It’s an excellent way to kill the party and all the social love coming your way.

4) Hide your peeps. Consumers love knowing who’s answering the phone or who wrote that clever update on Facebook or who created the funny video that just went viral two days ago. Companies who feature their employees create a human factor that people can relate with. You know what’s one of the most visited pages on many company websites? The staff page. One of the best ways to stifle engagement with your users? Keep your employees out of sight.

5) Conceal your company culture. One of the best ways to engage consumers is to show them the life and personality behind your company—to give them a glimpse of your culture and what happens behind the walls of your brick and mortar. But if fear of revealing too much or appearing less-than-professional (i.e. “too human”) has got you stymied, then by all means, don’t be playful or interesting or personable. Keep your company culture to yourself and just keep pushing your products and services, which is, after all, what consumers want to hear about. Right?

KEY TAKEAWAY: Your social media profile may still be a work in progress and that’s okay. But it will never move forward if you don’t address your social marketing fears, loosen your control, trust in your brand’s fortitude, and by all means, have some fun.


This was originally posted on the IBM Smarter Commerce blog