Don’t Be a Social Media Copycat

Written by Nick Stamoulis

I’m sure everyone can remember a time in their childhood when they did something foolish and explained their actions to their Mom/Dad/Grandparent/Babysitter/Teacher etc. by saying, “But, HE did it!” To which the response was often, “If HE jumped off of a bridge, would you follow?” When it comes to social media, just because THEY are doing it, does not mean that you should be doing it too.

Social media marketing has been popular for a few years, but it’s still considered “new”, mostly because some companies still can’t wrap their head around it. First, it took time for them to even accept social media as a viable marketing outlet. Now that they’ve realized that it’s here to stay, they are worried about missing the boat and want to jump in as quickly as possible. Social media is about the here and now, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s important to take the time to develop a strategy that is true to your brand before getting involved in social media. Without a plan, it’s easier to get confused and be tempted to follow the crowd.

In social media, what works for Company A might not be right for Company B. Not all companies that advertise the same way are successful. It’s about communicating with your target audience effectively, which means that you need to understand their social media behaviors and their brand expectations. Social media should enhance the brand image amongst a target audience, not change it.

A good rule of thumb for social media content is: if you wouldn’t think to include it in an advertisement or other marketing communication outlet, don’t include it in your social media content. Social media is certainly a less formal way to communicate and your posts and tweets shouldn’t read like a white paper, but the messaging should be the same. If your brand has never been described as “fun” or “playful”, it wouldn’t make sense to tweet jokes just to get noticed or re-tweeted.

It’s also important to keep the brand and target audience in mind when it comes to social media timing and frequency. When are they most likely to be using social media? This varies depending on the target audience and where they are located. Tweeting to a global audience differs from tweeting to a local audience. Some companies can get away with tweeting numerous times a day as long as they have lots of quality content to share. However, chances are that most companies shouldn’t use this strategy in order to avoid being viewed as “annoying”.

It’s OK to see how other brands are using social media, but you should never just copy what others are doing. Take the time to develop a strategy that works for your brand and your audience.

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