Most business owners – whether the business is large or small – are concerned about being “politically correct” these days, and what that means for posting in forums, on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. But ‘P.C.’ doesn’t have to stand for being Politically Correct. It can stand for being Polite and Considerate – as some people have said in the past. Below are some ideas on what to post, and what to avoid when using social media.
Embrace Ways to be Helpful
A product or service can best serve its customers by offering helpful hints, tips, and tricks on how to use the product. For example, a company with a Facebook page that sells chocolate bars may want to post recipes for using those chocolate bars, such as “S’mores” recipes or fondues.
Avoid Political Statements
This is probably going to be difficult if the company is a political magazine, but for everyone else, these topics should be avoided. To reach the broadest customer base, a political statement would be best excluded. Try to remember that each post will have an impact on its reader, and, therefore, it is best to make sure that they reach and touch as many as possible.
Embrace Humor with Caution
Humor is a great way to reach a variety of customers and potential customers – slapstick, parody, one-liners, and the like can all work well to make the audience laugh and improve the image of the product or service being marketed. However, there is a catch here – if the butt of the joke does not appreciate being made fun of, there may be back lash that can cost the company money.
Therefore, consider, prior to posting humor, if anyone is going to feel hurt by the joke. Naturally, some people are highly sensitive, and it is impossible to anticipate every single aspect or conceivable response, so it’s a good idea to just use common sense.
Avoid Singling Out a Demographic
In relation to use of humor, unless a product is to be directly marketed to one specific demographic, it’s best to avoid targeting any one particular group of people. Therefore, try to market to as many demographics as possible, without spreading too thin.
Balance is key when posting certain things. For example, a company that makes diapers would want to market to people with babies – this is logical. It encompasses a demographic (people with children). But it is not a good idea to single out a specific, sub-demographic of people with children, because it will either alienate that group, or alienate everyone else.
If the diaper company decided to tease single dads about their diaper changing skills, they might find themselves in trouble with the large market of all fathers who have to (and love to) take care of babies. At the same time, it might make single mothers feel left out, because they may be insulted that the company seems to be saying that it’s not hard to be a single mother, only a single father. So, by singling out one demographic, more felt alienated. Keep it light, and strike a balance on reaching the widest demographic possible for a single product.
Embrace the Company’s Uniqueness
Every company, even if it sells a commonly-used product or service, has uniqueness to it – an individual energy or “vibe” that deserves to be displayed. This is something that can be tapped into and displayed in social media. Use the question most often used in consumer surveys, “if X company came to life as a person, what would it be like?” This question can help the company understand its place in social media, and guide the behavior and nature of posts to follow. For example, a company that makes baby food most likely would want its persona to be associated with the following adjectives:
Whereas, a company that offers investment services may prefer:
While there is a crossover word, “responsible,” it’s important to note the responsibility is of a different kind. Choose the best persona for the company to project, and work from there.
These five key components of social media etiquette are a good start to being truly ‘P.C.’ – try not to force humor, or force a persona for the business. More importantly, be genuine, helpful, and boost the image of a product or service in its unique form. Remember that the business itself is the focus of posting, and though that doesn’t mean to take all the humanity out of it, it does mean that certain types of posts and Tweets should be avoided. Those forgetting to be ‘P.C.’ (Polite and Considerate), often note that their sales suffer from it. Therefore, embrace what works, and jettison what doesn’t.