In Essays, Innovation

The average industrial brand presence on social media is a highly crafted and tightly managed thing. There’s compelling theology that dictates what should and shouldn’t be shared, as well as how it must integrate with corporate messaging overall.

It’s mostly wrong.

Don’t believe me? Just name the industrial brand that you’d miss if it stopped tweeting or posting tomorrow (your employer doesn’t count, since you might follow it out of loyalty or fear).

Nobody needs social content from the makers of chemicals or electrical transformers in the same way they rely on updates from Kim Kardashian or one of her sisters, or from any number of other online influencers.

We can debate differences in business models, or lack thereof, and the vagaries of target audience age and expectations. But the simple fact is that most industrial brands have been misinformed, or purposefully misunderstand the utility of social media.

Here are 4 facts that you might want to consider:

Novelty — The most important quality of a social media post is that it contains something unique, surprising, or otherwise revealing. It should be something that your audience wants to know, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as something you need to tell them. It’s also not synonymous with importance or impact; the operant condition is different, which means that corporate messaging approved by a committee doesn’t pass muster. Your branding rules about careful consistency don’t jibe with the requirements of social media novelty. Social media are for communicating content that would otherwise never see the light of day.

Authenticity — The very idea that a company could have “a voice” is laughable, if you think about it. A brand can assert qualities through a variety of media but nobody can have a conversation with it. Social content from your company is from a person, or people (that marketing messaging committee), so why isn’t more personal? Consider what Sweden did a few years ago, swapping its social bullhorn between individuals who were authorized to speak about the country, not necessarily for it. Saying something wrong is far less damaging than saying things that are perfectly right, but otherwise inauthentic.

Immediacy — Many industrial and B2B businesses use social media to share links to stories on other sites, as if they were promotional platforms for marketers. They’re not. Soclal media are self-contained systems, mostly, in which people consume content then and there, so a tease intended to get them to follow a link to somewhere else is probably DOA. Instead, think of posts as discrete bursts of content that can be consumed immediately; it’ll scream value, which’ll increase your chances of being novel and authentic, too.

Frequency — The half-life of a social media burst is just shy of the life expectancy of a gnat, so sharing on a weekly basis is much like sharing nothing at all. The most popular online brands are seen more often, with less importance attached to any individual bit of content. If your content is novel, authentic, and immediately valuable, your only risk is not sharing it frequently enough, not too often. Think again of the hypothetical at the start of this essay: What if your audience actually missed your content if you dared to stay silent?

Competition in this Attention Economy of ours is fierce, and industrial or B2B brands aren’t somehow immune or apart from it.

Maybe it’s time to rethink your approach to social media, and try to find your brand’s inner Kim Kardashian.

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