The Story

It’s a bit like buying greetings cards.  I bought one once for a friend on the way to his party. I didn’t spend as long as my wife does when choosing cards but I did like the cartoon on the front along with the joke centred around age (and laziness if I remember correctly).  I walked over to the checkout, picked up a few beers as a gift to go with the card and then drove to my friends house.

Immediately I knew something was wrong.  His house was decorated with balloons (giraffe and assorted animals) along with summer bunting and a huge ‘It’s my Party!’ arrow by the front lawn, we could smell the BBQ too but this all seemed to ‘childish’.

You probably now know exactly what had happened.  Yes it was his son’s party, not his.  The balloons, the signs, the music (and yes, the clowns) they were all a dead giveaway and it didn’t take long for me to make eye contact with the young boy who instantly looked excitedly to the card in my hand…

Of course everyone laughed when we explained that we had misunderstood and that the card (and gift) was not really appropriate for the boy and although it was slightly embarrassing for us, it was easily rectified a day or so later but it’s a story I often think about when talking about ‘audience’.

The Problem

It’s easy to see where we’d gone wrong.  The card (and gift) were totally inapropriate for the ‘audience’ yes they’d of been fine for the dad, but not the lad!  Yet when it comes to how we use social media, it’s sometimes easy to see others missing the target too.  Sometimes they’re mistaking their audience just like I did at the party, sometimes they are making other more subtle mistakes but errors all the same,  here’s a list of just a few of the ‘classics’ on some business accounts that I’ve seen along the way:

The ‘here’s a picture of my dinner’ tweet

The ‘our office toilet is broken so here’s the plumber with his tools’ tweet

The ‘My football team is the best in the world’ tweet – great if all your customers agree with you…

And finally, lets not forget the ‘holiday view’ tweets that have somehow migrated from someones personal account to the company one (proof that not all ‘Directors’ should have access to the organisation’s social media accounts by default).

There’s many more examples of poor social media usage out there and most people can instantly see what’s gone wrong but why couldn’t the person posting the content SEE this at the time?  I think there’s two main reasons:

  1. The ‘social media’ responsibility is often devolved to people with little or no training, understanding or strategy when it comes to usage.  Eagerness is no substitute for ability especially when it comes down to corporate communications (effectively marketing).
  2. The content may sit well on a personal account but not a business one.  Quite often the CONTENT isn’t a problem:  it’s the CONTEXT that is.  Remember you are speaking on behalf of your organisation.

The Solution

So how do we go about fixing issues such as these? Here’s a few tips:

  1. Remember your Vision and Strategy:  Putting these at the heart of any shared content will help keep you on message (more help on Vision and Strategy).
  2. Picture the people that you want to reach: work out what words, terms, concepts and ideas they will understand and relate to.  You must make your message understandable for your audience.
  3. Don’t rush out content:  Take your time.  It’s far better to have a reputation for quality rather than quantity.
  4. Be careful with sharing other people’s content: They are likely to be following tips like these too, it’s fine if your Vision and Strategy is in alignment or if your in partnership but some posts could actually be driving people away from your business/cause
  5. Be creative: Its vital that people engage with what you are sharing but remember creativity looks different to different audiences so make sure your creativity is hitting the spot!

We’d like to help you further along the road so don’t forget to keep in touch with us here (@mahoosivemedia) along with our networking/development team (@ls_lunch) you can hire us to help too.  If you’d like more information,  contact us below.



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