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Social Media - A Rapid Response, Not Rabid Response

Social media hosts some of the biggest brand and personal blunders these days. Just ask the little league softball team recently ejected from a tournament over a Snapchat post. Rookie mistakes quickly turn major league when instantly shared in bits and bytes. And while it’s easy to say you’ll ignore social media (every legal department’s dream), it’s not the reality of today’s communication. Your social media simply needs some discipline to become your brand’s best friend. In this first of two-part series, let’s discuss better plans for proactive messaging in social media.

One of the best opportunities social media opens to brands is freedom to join conversations beneficial to but not directly about you or your brand. No more hoping a news release gets picked up or gnashing teeth when reporters go to your competitors for comments. (OK, you may still do that, but you see my point.) However, those jumping to the top of the feed often thought ahead.

If you’ve ever been around a newsroom, you know journalists often complete obituaries of aging public figures in advance, ready for details to be filled in at a later date. Morbid, maybe, but it saves time during inevitable breaking news. Brands can learn from this. Most simply overlook how many items they can anticipate: legislation will either pass or fail, major industry figures retire, long-rumored mergers eventually happen and industry studies usually carry some expected information. Looking into the future keeps you ahead of the game and allows your team to evaluate social content strategically. No more missing the story window by creating content at the last minute. Regular planning sessions often make the difference between thinking on your feet and actually landing on them.

When a topic truly catches you off guard but you feel your organization has something to add, your high-level message planning steps in. While you may not have anticipated every detail, you should have the certainty of your brand voice and core messaging principles to guide you. This is why creation of a core messaging document is essential. It gives you a touchstone in any and all situations. These statements won’t write your tweet or post for you, but it gives you something to hold it up against. Is this who we are? Does this statement back up our beliefs? Are we speaking in an authentic, consistent voice of our brand? If the answer is no or requires more than two sentences to explain how it connects, it’s not the correct message.

The ability to jump into social media and avoid missteps all comes back to how solid your communication plan is before you log-on. The best spontaneous moments take plenty of planning. Failing to do so, leads to amateur hour.