By Curtis Kitchen, CAE, KCSAE Board Member
One of the biggest hurdles for professionals, businesses, and even some associations that struggle with online brand management is the concept of “personal vs. professional” social media posts.
Despite knowing or acknowledging the oft-mentioned dangers that surround posting personal views on a dual-interest (business and personal) page, the idea of having to relinquish some level of speech freedom – even if to better protect business interests – proves too much for some to take. So, instead, they vaguely and passive-aggressively rant against a competitor “because I’m right, darn it!” Or, they post a risqué meme “because I won’t let someone tell me what’s funny or not.” Or, they pile on a polarizing political conversation “because it’s my right, and I don’t want to hide who I am.”
If those practices weren’t touchy before, they certainly are these days as members and customers become savvier in using Google to search social media posts.
Consider it this way: Let’s say you’ve done a wonderful job with your SEO strategy so that when a prospective member or customer uses your carefully chosen keywords, your name and organization appear. However, now that Google indexes Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, you or your staff’s social media posts also may appear. So, that person now has an increased opportunity to view any personal rants, jokes, or smarmy one-liners as well.
If that’s your objective, you’re in good shape. If not, it’s something to consider.
So, while someone may discount their “personal” social media exploits having any real impact on their business, the fact is articles appear daily and detail grave mistakes businesses make with their online brand management. From those mistakes are three key takeaways that can lead to better online brand management.
Google yourself and set a Google Alert
Before you can manage your brand, you need to know what others are saying about you. A simple Google alert for your association – and for you, personally – is a great way to keep tabs on your brand’s temperature in the environment.
How to set up an alert:
1) Visit www.google.com/alerts.
2) In the "Create an alert about" box, enter the words you want to get email notifications for.
3) Click Show options to say how often you get alerts, what types of results you want to get, and more.
4) Click Create Alert.
5) Once your alert is set up, you'll start getting emails any time Google finds new search results for your keywords.
6) You can also create an alert by clicking the + next to any of the suggested topics on the Google Alerts page.
Remember the online image you’re (never finished) building
At some point, the online branding game probably seemed pretty simple. You took your company’s logo and a tagline, perhaps, and threw out on your social media accounts in order to show everyone who you represent. You were excited to show everyone just how good of a person they would be dealing with if they chose to work with you.
But then, a family member started a fight and you were tagged and dragged into it publicly. Or, an unhappy member ranted at you on your feed, and you responded publicly in a way that may have alienated onlookers, even though you were right. Or, maybe a media outlet covered one of your events in a way that you didn’t find flattering, so you called them out on social media.
No matter how much brand equity (goodwill) you may have accumulated through years of hard work, it can all dissolve instantly if you aren’t careful. You must always remember that every single post is part of your brand.
"How much should I post?"
Despite there being so many different ways to engage your target audiences, it is important to note that less really is more. Why? If you post less, two things happen. 1) Your posts earn more gravitas; meaning, you begin to build the aura that when you speak it’s important. 2) You lessen the chance that you’ll make a branding mistake simply because there is less opportunity to do so.
Of course, this raises the question: “How much should I post?” There is no set number, but a general rule developed from years of analytics is that top brands average one post on Facebook per day. Data also indicates engagement plummets if posts average more than 5-10 per week.
So, if you’re using your account to post both personal and professional messages, every time you post a personal message, your ability to be effective with your business brand takes a hit. It doesn’t make much sense to waste time and space with personal messages when looked at from that angle.
In any case, follow some or all these keys and they will help you better manage and protect your and your association’s online brand.