The recent social media failure of the NYPD seemed to offer a cautionary tale for brands who hope to profit from Twitter. And yet, despite the backlash, the New York Times reports that the NYPD plans to expand its social media efforts. The police commissioner, William Bratton, announced that:
"New recruits would be better trained in community relations; that the police would be more 'collaborative,' an oft-heard new buzzword; and, as he told a closed-door meeting of chiefs and supervisors in January, that his administration would use social media to bring positive police stories directly to the public."
What the NYPD, and many other brands (like McDonald's), fail to realize, is that social media users do not want to be fed a line. Both brands tried to tell followers to tweet great stories about the brand. And both brands failed because they misunderstood the nature of "social networking."
Asking an audience to market your brand, as both the NYPD and McDonald's attempted to do, implies a complete misunderstanding of social media mores. People do not want to be talked to. Twitter is a conversation. Unless a brand can engage with its audience on a personal level, its social media "campaign" will inevitably fail.
Thankfully, these failures can be instructive to businesses and organizations who hope to profit from social media. Twitter and Facebook can be a key element of search engine optimization. By crafting a thoughtful social media identity, you can increase your brand's presence across the Internet.
Obviously, a profitable social media campaign must pay attention to many elements. Below we've simply listed three--albeit three crucial social media tips for SEO-savvy brands.
1. Know Thyself
The ancient Greek aphorism is true for all people who wish to create a positive social media impact. Before you you know your audience (see below), you must know yourself.
Believe it or not, social media is not the best SEO strategy for all brands. If you want to benefit from social media, keep in mind: "thoughtful" is truly the key word. If you do not have the time, or conscientiousness, to truly engage with your social media, then you might do better with no social media presence at all!
What? No social media presence? Indeed, we've seen far too many brand's flounder simply because they've mistakenly believed that all brands must have a social media presence. If you don't have the time, don't do it. If you do not stay current with your pages, your image will suffer online. Worse, if you do not engage with your followers (a day-to-day task), you risk alienating potential customers.
2. Know Your Audience
Before using any social media, try to understand the dynamics of the audience. Twitter is an expansive, yet unique, community: of all social media platforms, for example, Twitter is by far the most activist community. The NYPD failed to acknowledge this simple fact. Assuming that the Twitter population would cherish the opportunity to tell great stories about a notoriously racist police force, the NYPD instead opened the door for a public relations nightmare.
The NYPD's decision-making implies colossal ineptitude. Do not fall into this trap. Try to understand the network audience before you begin any social media campaign.
Then, once you attract followers, try to understand your unique audience. Why do you believe you attracted followers? Perhaps you've marketed yourself to a unique group. Perhaps you've crafted some engaging tweets. Whatever the case, learn about your audience, and speak to your audience..
3. Speak to Your Audience Like Friends
As we noted above, Twitter is a conversation. Twitter users do not want to talked to. The same is true for every social media platform. People are attracted to social media because it promises the potential of engagement. The best brands understand that customers can be friends, too.
That's right, treat your customers as if they were your good friends. That means that you must respond to all inquiries with sincerity and timeliness. Talk to your "followers"--and don't treat them like followers; treat them like friends.
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