Good, Bad, Ugly #1: How different firms approach social media

Good, Bad, Ugly #1: How different firms approach social media

In the first of a new series of Travolution guest posts, our social media monitor Dean Harvey, digital development director at Designate, looks at the way three different firms approach the channel

It seems every week we hear about some social media blunder as defined by the fact that it goes viral and then we get to hear about it. Part of the reason for the difficulty is that brands are too used to having it all their own way.

Before the social media revolution, communication from brands was a one-way street, a broadcast. They’re applying the old rules to the new media.

Now however it needs to be a dialogue, no longer a broadcast monologue, and some brands are really struggling to get to grips with finding their niche in social – their voice, their raison d’être.

Some say, because of this, we are witnessing a backlash of social media users against brands invading their space.

Just take a look at the spoof Facebook page of “Condescending Corporate Brand Page” (warning – explicit content). This page exists to ridicule the clumsy and the unwary brands who have fallen into the trap of believing that whatever they broadcast is golden. There are some hilarious examples.

However the backlash isn’t against brands in social, it’s against their clumsy approach.

Brands shouldn’t simply join social networks because they’re there; they need a plan, an idea of how they will further their marketing or customer service functions, how they will deepen their relationship with existing customers and attract new ones. In short, brands need to be useful, authentic and interesting when it comes to social.

There are some pitfalls to avoid too. Stop the long-playing record syndrome – you wouldn’t necessarily keep repeating yourself in company or in public, so why do it online? If you’ve got your social channels synced then be careful, as you’re running the risk of becoming a bore – a bore that repeats itself.

Guilty of this are Centre Parcs (@centreparcsuk) as they replicate their communications in both Facebook and Twitter; in some cases they are identical.

This is quite common and they certainly aren’t alone. Is this really the most efficient use of two different platforms? If you are doing this – duplicating your communications – inevitably some of your messages are redundant.

You should really try to do more than just selling your product or company on social media. Doing it some of the time is fine of course; it is expected of you, this is the undisguised contract between you and those interacting with you.

Deals are useful as well, but a continued monologue stream of deals is in no way interesting. Take a look at the Twitter feed for Teletext Holidays (@teletextholiday) – there are a lot of deals in here, almost exclusively deals. It may be useful if I’m looking for a deal, but is it really interesting or at all engaging?

Take a leaf from the book of First Choice Holidays (@firstchoiceUK). Their Twitter and Facebook communications complement each other, with lots of lovely interactive and engaging content (check out their animal spotters map on Facebook), big imagery and video, and insightful behind-the-scenes footage of their latest shoot in Mexico.

It ticks all the boxes – authentic, useful and interesting. They’re sharing useful tips on how to pack light, or what books to buy to entertain the kids while travelling.

Useful tools such as the All-Inclusive Holiday Calculator or their guide to taking perfect holiday pictures make me want to keep First Choice Holidays in my stream, on my radar.

Their information on the best travel apps to download before I go was really useful; in fact I’ve already shared it with my network.

That is the gold dust, the elixir, the Holy Grail – because the minute I start sharing their content I’m amplifying their brand – their social media investment is paying off.

Dean Harvey is digital development director at Designate

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