Regardless of your feeling about businessman Mark Cuban (and there are many, many very strong opinions out there), he recently shot a video for Inc.com about what he considers our biggest mistake when it comes to social media, and it has some merit.
Put simply, he believes that our biggest mistake is not eventually deleting all of our posts, texts and other social media ramblings. He claims that, unless we regularly delete this content, it will some day be aggregated by all types of organizations, from marketing firms to law enforcement to potential employers, to create a “profile” of who we are as individuals. This profile, he says, could be used against us in ways we’ve never imagined.
What I find particularly interesting about this perspective is that this type of “profiling” has been happening in the reverse to organizations and brands for many years. As consumers, we regularly make judgments about companies based on their social media activity. Sometimes these judgments are good – like when Oreo consistently comes up with amazingly culturally-relevant, but simple memes (remember this). But, most of the time these judgments are negative, and it only takes one post to do a substantial amount of damage to a brand’s reputation and bottom line. Remember when DiGiorno used #WhyIStayed to sell pizza after NFL player Ray Rice was suspended for punching his wife? Or, when US Airways accidentally posted a very explicit photo on its Twitter page?
What I take away from Cuban’s video (besides a fairly strong desire to delete every single social media post I’ve ever made) is a reminder that brands have personalities, and now more than ever before, these personalities are being defined through social media channels. It’s for this reason a brand must take its social media strategy as seriously as its business strategy. Both can topple a brand, and social media can do it in a matter of minutes. Here are three simple, helpful hints:
1. Start with strategy. Social media is just like any other brand channel. You have to have goals (that align with your business goals) and you must have a strategy in place to reach those goals. Having a strong social media strategy in place provides parameters and guidance for social activity, which can keep brands in their own swim lanes and out of trouble.
2. Checks and balances aren’t just for politics. Believe it or not, human beings are behind brand social channels, and we can all make mistakes. It helps to have a second set of eyes on social posts/channels. It’s a lot faster and easier to prevent a potentially questionable post from going live than to reverse the damage once it’s out.
3. Be true to yourself. The most successful brands on social media have a clearly defined brand voice that matches their brand personality. Know who you are and know your audience. The combination of the two is powerful stuff.