Social Media: Forget Fake News, There's a Bigger Problem

Posted in Marketing, Social Media by David Oates

...and it’s the prevalence of “Bull$#!t”!

Here’s the thing. I’m thrilled that there’s a concerted effort to flag and mitigate the growing trend of fake news in the blogosphere. There’s no place for it in any social lexicon.

But there’s a bigger issue, and one that appears to be going unchecked. It’s an epidemic that has been around as long as Facebookers were “hearting” pictures of their grandkids. More important, this ever present trend is one that will bring down more organizations than any fake news report.

The pandemic — having your social media followers call out your posts as B.S.

There’s a difference between that and fake news. The latter is when folks distribute completely fabricated pieces of content as genuine, editorial-driven news. B.S., though, may have some origins in fact, but are then blown out of proportion by an organization for the sole purposes of looking good, even when it’s not warranted.

Companies do this all the time by using their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat properties in the same manner that those martini-guzzling, Mad Men-era advertisers leveraged their TV and radio ad buys. The messages are designed to neither elicit immediate feedback nor engage audiences in a genuine conversation. As a result, far too many of their social media followers will view the posts as condescending, irrelevant, insensitive, offensive, and, worse yet, of little-to-no value.

Here are a couple of examples... one that showcases good, and the other as, well, pathetic.

Good - Seasons Greetings by a winery without the typical branding puffery:

A good social media post

Pathetic - American Apparel mistakenly using the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster as “fireworks”:

A bad social media postRelated: Save time, eliminate confusion, and achieve better results with the  Content Marketing Cheat Sheet. Get it now.Fake news may be on the outs, but B.S. continues with reckless abandon. So before you pick up another shovel, scrub all your future blog and social media posts through this three-part test.

Three Step No B.S. Social Media Test

1. Is Your Post Self Serving?

Are you so enamored with your offerings to the point that it’s all you talk about? Well, get over yourself. The best brands don’t need to cry out “Look at me! Look at me!” in the digital sphere. Post useful, entertaining and customer-centric content and your audience will gravitate towards you in far greater numbers.

2. Is Your Post Laced With Too Much Puffery?

There’s a fine line between boasting and blowing smoke. Be sure you can back-up your claims fully. If not, your followers will find out quickly and call it out. Credibility tarnished.

3. Does Anyone Care?

Try easing up on drinking your own Kool-Aid every so often to find out if anyone else cares about the same aspects of your offerings that you do. Certain features and functions may be important to you, but that doesn’t count. Go a step further and ask yourself exactly why they care. It will help fine tune your message even more.

About David Oates

David Oates, APR, is Founder and President of Stalwart Communications, a Pay-On-Performance PR and Marketing Agency. He possesses 20 years of extensive experience directing marketing and public relations programs on a tactical and strategic level through a long and successful career that spans both agency, corporate and military environments. David is an accredited public relations expert affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America. He can be reached at [email protected]
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